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Egypt, Last African Team Standing Bows Out In Last 16 Of ITTF WTTC –

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Egypt, Last African Team Standing Bows Out In Last 16 Of ITTF WTTC -

Africa’s only surviving team at the ongoing ITTF World Team Table Tennis Federation (WTTC), Egypt on Wednesday, February 21 exited the tournament after an impressive outing in Busan, South Korea.

 

The Egyptian ladies led by six-time African Champion Dina Meshref worked their way to the second round after finishing second in their group which included France, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Croatia.

 

Apart from losing to France 3-0, the Egyptian ladies defeated the three European sides to finish second behind France as the only African team that progressed to the second round of the competition.

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They were then set up against Chile in the round of 32 and in their usual style, they made no mistake in beating the South American side 3-0 to advance to the last 16 of the tournament.

 

Drawn against emerging European heavyweight – Romania, the Egyptian ladies wanted to show their quality against the Romanian girls but the experience of their opponents came to the fore through their top star Bernadette Szocs who was tested by teenage sensation Hana Goda.

 

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But all the efforts of the young African champion were thwarted by the European star who claimed a hard-fought 3-1 to set the lead for Romania.

 

Despite taking an early 2-0 lead against veteran Elizabeta Samara, Meshref could not maintain her lead as she was beaten 3-2.

 

Yousra Helmy was no match to Adina Diaconu as she fell 3-0 to hand Romania a 3-0 win and a passage to the quarterfinal of the tournament and a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in France.

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Following the early exit of most African teams in the competition, Nigeria’s legend Segun Toriola has attributed this to lack of preparation.

 

“Most African teams did not prepare well for this competition and most of them hurriedly assembled to be part of the championships and this really showed in their performance in Busan.

 

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Going forward, we need to take preparation seriously and ensure that our players are in the right frame of mind to compete at the top level.

 

Generally, African teams did not really do well and I hope we can all learn from this experience in Busan,” Toriola who is acting national coach of Nigeria said.

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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African Games medallists ready for Michael & Felicia Alabi National Table Tennis championships 

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Three of the players who claimed medals for Nigeria at the 13th African Games are expected to be among the competitors at the 4th Michael & Felicia Alabi Memorial National Table Tennis Championships taking place in Otan Ayegbaju in Osun State.

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The annual tournament is organised by the Osun State Table Tennis Association (OSTTA) with technical support from the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) and sponsored by the Michael & Felicia Alabi Memorial as well as Canada-based Jodal Health Care.

The championships have also been upgraded to a national ranking event for the players as the results will be used to determine the ranking of local-based players.

Teenage sensation Matthew Kuti; Amadi Umeh, and Sukurat Aiyelabegan are among the top players confirmed for the men’s and women’s singles events by the organisers as over 28 states will be heading to the Land of Virtue for the five-day tournament.

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Apart from being a medallist at the African Games, Kuti and Umeh will be aiming for the top prize as both players will be relying on the experience they garnered at the African Games while Aiyelabegan will slug it out with the likes of Bisola Asaju and Bose Odusanya in the women’s singles.

A determined Umeh believes he is ready to claim the title this year as he has been shaping up for the tournament with the sole aim of adding the title to his laurels. “I am ready anytime and I know it is going to be tough as most of the players want to wrestle some of us that have featured for the national team,” he boasted.

According to the Chairman of the OSTTA, Ayo Alabi, the record entries have added value to the tournament particularly as the tournament would be used as a ranking event for local-based players.

“We have concluded all arrangements as regards transportation and accommodation of all athletes and officials who are coming for the event. Hotels have been booked while buses will be provided to convey athletes and officials from their camps to the venue daily. We have also secured the services of security agencies to ensure orderliness and provide adequate security for all visitors and guests. I want to assure you that the competition will be the best-ever organized than the previous editions,” Alabi said.

“The last edition saw over 400 participants, which clearly shows the growing status of the tournament. I look forward to an exciting tournament while it will allow some upcoming players to showcase their talents,” he added.

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Aruna returns to top 20 in latest ITTF Ranking

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Assar, Aruna, lead six other Africans to 2024 ITTF World Cups

Quadri Aruna made a quick return to the top 20 in the latest ITTF Ranking released on Tuesday, April 16, by the world table tennis ruling body.

In the rating list made public by ITTF, the Nigerian gained three steps up the ranking to occupy 19th spot in the ranking. In the last two rankings, Aruna slid to 22 after missing the World Team Championships in Korea as well as the WTT Champions in Incheon but he has fought his way back to the elite rank of the rating.

African Games champion Omar Assar of Egypt also gained one step up the rating to be ranked 16 in the world.

Also, Aruna started his campaign at the ITTF World Cups Macao 2024, on a good note with a 4-0 (11-6, 11-4, 11-6, 11-6) convincing win over Puerto Rico’s Daniel Gonzalez to set the final group 15 tie against Portugal’s Marcos Freitas on Wednesday, April 17 at the Galaxy Arena.

Aruna occupied the top spot in the group as Freitas had earlier beaten Gonzalez 4-0 (17-15, 11-7, 11-7, 11-1) but the Nigerian had more points than the Portuguese to be rated number one in the group.

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But the tie between Aruna and Freitas will decide the winner of the group who will then advance to the second stage (knockout) of the competition.

Speaking after winning his first match, Aruna said: “I’m very happy. It’s my third time here in Macao and it’s my first time winning a match here in Macao, so I feel very happy and excited,” he said.

Like Aruna, Assar started well in Group 16 with an overwhelming 4-0 win over Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan to set up a deciding group tie against Sweden’s Truls Moregard on Wednesday, April 17.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Mohamed El-Beiali and Yousra Helmy have exited the World Cups after losing their second group match of the competition.

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Record Entries for 4th Micheal & Felicia Alabi National Table Tennis Championship

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For the first time in the history of the annual Micheal & Felicia Alabi Memorial National Championship, over 28 states beat the registration deadline of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF)-sanctioned national ranking event taking place in Osun State from April 22 to 26.

From the list of entries received by NTTF, 53 men and 38 women will compete in the senior singles event while over 34 players will jostle for honours in the U-15 singles event as the para and veteran events also received large entries for this year.

The yearly championships are organised by the Osun State Table Tennis Association (OSTTA) with technical support from NTTF and sponsored by the Micheal & Felicia Alabi Memorial as well as Canada-based Healthcare and it has been attracting top players

Tournament referee John Peters described the turnout as a result of the upgrading of the championships to the national ranking event while the hospitality by the sponsors has encouraged teams to identify with the fourth edition.

“We are indeed overwhelmed by the turnout of teams for this year’s event because making it a national ranking event will help NTTF to identify talents as well as rate the players based on their performance in national events. It is going to be exciting this year looking at the quality of players that have been confirmed for the tournament, it promises to be explosive as this is the only tournament to be staged nationally this year. We are expecting several upsets especially from the junior players who have been doing well lately and for me, I see new champions emerging in all the events,” Peters said.

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The former ITTF blue badge umpire however, lauded the sponsor for keeping faith with the annual staging of the tournament while urging other corporate bodies and individuals to support table tennis.

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