It was celebration all the way as Nigeria and Egypt have qualified to fly Africa’s flag at the 2019 ITTF World Team Cup in Tokyo, Japan after emerging champions at the 2018 ITTF African Championships holding in Mauritius.
It was Egypt who first confirmed their spot in the global tournament after beating Nigeria’s women team 3-1 in the final but few hours later the Nigerian team led by 2018 ITTF Nigeria Open Champion, Aruna Quadri dethroned Egypt as the new continental win for men.
In the last three editions of the World Team Cup, Egypt men and women teams have featured in the tournament and the last time Nigeria’s men team competed was in 2010 in Dubai.
But with the 3-1 win over Egypt in the final, the West African side will return to the global championship comes November 2019 in Japan. The tournament is a test run for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The trio of Dina Meshref, Farah Abdel-Aziz and Yousra Helmy defeated Nigeria’s trio of Edem Offiong, Olufunke Oshonaike and Janet Effiom to retain their title in the continent.
In the men’s final, it was a different scenario as the experience of Segun Toriola counted for the West African team when the seven-time Olympian fought from 1-2 down to beat youthful Khaled Assar 3-2 in the third game to give Nigeria a 2-1 lead after Aruna Quadri has put Nigeria ahead with a 3-2 win over Ahmed Saleh while Bode Abiodun fell 0-3 to Mohammed El-Beiali.
Like a true champion, it was Aruna Quadri who saved the day for Nigeria with an explosive encounter against Mohammed El-Beiali who made the spectators to be glued to their seat during the tie.
Having fell behind 1-2, Aruna Quadri fought back to beat the Arab Cup Champion 3-2 to throw the venue into frenzy.
A disappointed Ahmed Saleh told NationSport that it was a painful loss especially the loss by Assar to Toriola. “I am so disappointed that we could not retain our title because we had thought we could pick the third game against Toriola. I am not too happy but that is table tennis and we will come back to fight again,” Saleh said.
Credit: ITTF Africa