Nigeria’s duo of Aruna Quadri and Offiong Edem lost in the finals of the 2020 ITTF Africa Cup to Egypt’s Ahmed Saleh and Dina Meshref as this year’s edition ended in Tunis on Wednesday afternoon.
After Aruna came back from two games down to beat former Africa’s Number one player, Omar Assar 4-3 to reach the final, the Nigerian champion was expected to have an easy ride to the title.
But Saleh proved a tough customer to the two-time champion. Saleh whose last major title was in 2012 defeated Aruna Quadri 4-3 (11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3) to emerge as the new champion.
Unlike Saleh, Meshref continues her dominance in Africa when she edged out Nigeria’s Offiong Edem 4-1 (11-2, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6) to retain the title being her fourth trophies in the competition.
In the third place matches, Egypt’s Omar Assar beat Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw 3-0 (11-6, 11-8, 12-10) while Cameroun’s Sarah Hanffou defeated Egypt’s Yousra Helmy 3-1 (11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 12-10) to settle for bronze medals.
An elated Saleh said: “I am very happy because I could not imagine that I will go past Aruna in this tournament. All I did was to focus from the first point to the end,” he said.
The Egyptian veteran added: “I really don’t want to quit at 40 as I want to play until my body cannot do it anymore. I love table tennis and I will continue.”
For Meshref, winning the title this year was a bit tasking. “When I started the competition, I just stay focus, play my game and not think about how many times I had won it in the past. I must commend Edem because she is an experienced player who played extremely well. She changed tactic every time which sometimes make it difficult to play against her,” admitted Meshref