Egypt’s Omar Assar is heading to the 2016 ITTF African Senior Championship in Morocco, a wounded lion.
The 2015 African Games gold medalist has been shaping up in Germany for the championship and hopes his preparation would be good enough to aid his success in Morocco.
Assar was beaten in the final of the 2016 African Top 16 Cup in Sudan earlier this year by his continental arch-rival, Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri and was again bundled out in the second round of the Rio Olympic Games by Turkey’s Lei Kou. It is these defeats in the past months that are making the African champion to want to be at his best in Morocco to regain his pride.
As an inspiration to the Egyptian team, Omar Assar believes Egypt would be the team to beat to the overall title in Morocco.
“I do believe that Egypt is the strongest country in African table tennis and I trust my teammates and coaches that we can achieve that in Morocco. I am looking forward to a classic final between Egypt and Nigeria and this kind of match has always been every fun to play and to watch for the spectators. I can also see that Tunisia now has a better team,” stressed Assar.
He threw light more about his preparations for the battle in Morocco.
“I have been preparing very well for this event and I am looking forward to a great performance. I had two weeks of physical, mental and technical preparation in Germany where I had my last training camp so I can say I am looking forward to a good performance in Morocco.”
Assar admitted that Nigeria’s Arna Quadri has the capacity to also do well at the Championship. “Well, I must acknowledge that Quadri Aruna has been playing in a good level in the French league and international events so it will be interesting to see our match in Morocco especially in the men’s singles.”
Having tasted an unexpected defeat against Nigeria in the final of the men’s team event of 2015 African Games in Brazzaville, Omar Assar is not ruling out the possibility of a rematch, which he says would be in Egypt’s favour. “I expect a good start with my teammates in the team event first, and in the singles, I am very hungry to show a very good performance because when it comes to representing Egypt, you always look for gold medal not only in Africa but everywhere else.”
With the excellent display by Dina Meshref at the 2016 Women’s World Cup, Omar Assar is hopeful that the Egyptian female team would be unbeatable in Morocco. “Our women team is very strong and stable however some injuries can affect the team but as I see that there are some new young stars that are coming up now and they are fresh and hungry to win. Also Dina Meshref has been playing in high level and she showed that she is one of the best African female players of all time.”
The Men’s singles defending champion is excited with the attention table tennis is getting in Africa. “Table tennis in Africa has taken a different shape since the President of African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF); Khaled El-Salhy took charge as his efforts to promote the sport have paid off. I am very happy that I can see that ITTV is covering the African events almost everywhere. But we are waiting for much more and expecting more promotion locally in Egypt and Nigeria and particularly in Egypt.”
As a Pan Africanist, Omar Assar believes in having an African team to compete against the world’s best players. “I would love to see that there is a formation of Team Africa that will compete against teams from Europe and Asia from time to time.”