The cold weather in Tunis may changed on Tuesday February 25 when the heavyweights at the 2020 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup continue their race for the top spots at the two-day continental championship.

Rades Multi-Purpose Hall will be stage when the knockout round of the tournament starts with all eyes on Aruna Quadri of Nigeria, Egypt’s Omar Assar, Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw as well as 2019 African Games gold medalist, Nigeria’s Olajide Omotayo in the men’s singles.

Also, Dina Meshref of Egypt will have to be at her best if she hopes to hold on to her title in the women’s singles against the likes of Offiong Edem of Nigeria and Sarah Hanffou of Cameroun.

From the first stage of the tournament, majority of the top seeds worked their way into the knockout stage except Algeria’s Sami Kherouf who ended his campaign after losing to Tunisia’s Adam Hmam in the final group tie.

To kick-start the tournament on Monday February 24, a colourful mix of music highlighted the opening ceremony as 17 African countries showed up at the event.

The Tunisian National Police Band kicked off the occasion with a rhythmic march past blended with their sonorous musical presentation to welcome guests to the brief but colourful event.

The presentation of teams’ flags by young Tunisian also added glamour to the event as the flagbearers were regal in their flowing traditional Tunisian attire.

The icing on the cake was the choreography presentation from an Ivorian group, which thrilled the fans with their synchronized display mounted against the background of a fusion of modern and traditional music, which made exciting watch.

Also, Kenyan Brian Mutua became the cynosure of all eyes in Tunis as the 21-year-old showed that he is a good learner after he humbled one of Africa’s veterans, South Africa’s Shane Overmeyer, in the second round of the men’s singles tie.

The Physical Sciences undergraduate of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology showed that he has come of age as he fought back from behind to claim a 3-2 victory against the 40-year-old South African.

Mutua has this to say about his upset: “Despite winning the first game, I never believe I could defeat Overmeyer because I knew him as one of the continent’s experienced players having watched him played in 2018 in Nairobi.

“In the third game, I was leading but he caught up with me to win the game. But when I was able to win the fourth game for the match to tie at 2-2, I started having a positive mind that I could win.

“I ensured I reduced my errors which caused my first loss to the Togolese. Also, I vary my service and this really helped me a lot in the tie.”

The Kenyan rising star added: “One thing I have learnt from playing against some of the top players is that a good player should not be bothered by the pedigree of his opponent.

“Just focus on the game because in table tennis, anything can happen on table. In the game against Overmeyer, I forgot about who he is and just played my game. I am so happy that what happened to me two years ago has been averted here in Tunis and I hope I will continue to improve from here.”

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