If there is any player that is convinced that the present form of Aruna Quadri (NGR) is good enough for the men’s singles title at the 2018 ITTF African Championship in Mauritius, it is Algeria’s Sami Kherouf.
The France-based star believes the consistency of the Nigerian coupled with the absence of his closest rival – Omar Assar (EGY), the coast is clear for Aruna Quadri to lead Nigeria’s sweep of medals in the Ocean Island city on September 3 to 9.
However, several top players have been defeated by Sami Kherouf in major tournaments but the 29-year-old is yet to fully utilize his potential in his bid to gain continental recognition.
And when the Mauritius tournament serves off, Sami Kherouf is surely hoping to be counted among the title contenders in the men’s singles.
Sami Kherouf’s best performance in most of continental championships has been quarterfinals; but the Algerian star is aiming to go beyond last eight in the Ocean Island city.
“In Africa, I have always put up good performance because I had defeated the likes of El-Sayed Lashin of Egypt in Sudan 2016 while Mohammed El-Beiali has also tasted defeat in my hand at the Mediterranean Games. Unfortunately, I lose when it matters most and most of my losses are very close particularly losing 4-3 against good players. I think this is because I still lack the needed experience to know when I need to raise my game. I still miss a little experience at the right time to finish the matches but my best results in Africa are quarterfinals,” he said.
Sami Kherouf consistency at home has made him the top player for the North African nation and he is ready again to lead the team against the best of the continent in Mauritius.
“My goal is to win a medal in singles by making to the semifinals. Of course I am not ruling out playing in the final if I have a good draw. It is very hard but it is possible. I need to be ready in order to get to my best level of play because in the end it’s just a sport,” he added.
Having watched Quadri Aruna (NGR) dominating at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open, Sami Kherouf believes the Nigeria has all it takes to claim the title in the absence of Omar Assar (EGY). I think Quadri Aruna has the chance to win the men’s singles especially in the absence of his closest rival – Omar Assar. Aruna is consistent and he is a very good player.
Having finished third in most continental tournaments, Sami Kherouf believes Algeria can exceed the bronze medal zone this year. “Algeria has always won bronze medal in team but the target this year is to play in the final. If we are fully ready why not winning it but this also depends on the quality of team we will be presenting for the competition,” Sami Kherouf said.
The Algerian is excited about the standard of the sport in Africa particularly with players from the continent breaking into the top 20 ranking in the world. “Table tennis has evolved a lot in Africa annually because we now have African players who make very good results in other championships in Europe or elsewhere. This kind of performance suggests that Africa has come of age in the game and the level continues to improve,” he explained.