Egypt’s duo of Omar Assar and Dina Meshref were crowned the champions of the 2019 ITTF Africa Cup concluded at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
Assar, who is tournament’s no.3 seed, accounted for the host nation favourite, Aruna Quadri, the top seed (11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3) in the semifinal and while he had to work hard to overcome compatriot – Ahmed Saleh, the no.2 seed (10-12, 11-3, 11-6, 12-14, 11-3, 9-11, 11-3), the winner as far back as 1997 when the second edition of the tournament was staged in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Quadri had to settle for third place after beating Algeria’s Sami Kherouf, the no.8 seed (11-6, 12-10, 11-5) in the third place play-off.
It was according to status for Meshref in the women’s singles, as the top seed had in the semi-final stage beat Nigeria’s Offiong Edem, the no.2 seed, (11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8.
A place in the final booked, it was a family affair as Meshref beat her cousin, Yousra Helmy, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-9, 11-1, 11-8) to claim the title.
Earlier Yousra Helmy had beaten Tunisia’s Fadwa Garci in a tense semi-final contest (11-1, 10-12, 11-2, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 12-10) to reserve her place in the title decider. Offiong Edem gained third place, accounting for Fadwa Garci in five games (8-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-8).
Gold and silver for Egypt, personal triumphs for Assar and Meshref; it is third time Omar Assar has won the title, for Meshref and incredible seventh. Moreover, it is six in a row.
Most significantly, in Chengdu, Omar Assar will be making his third appearance in the Men’s World Cup, he previously appeared in 2015 in Halmstad in 2017 in Liège; for Dina Meshref it will be no less than her seventh venture in the Women’s World Cup. She made her debut in 2011 in Singapore, since 2014 in Linz, she has been ever present.
The Women’s World Cup will be staged from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th October, the Men’s World Cup from Friday 29th November to Sunday 1st December.