Defending champion of the forthcoming ITTF Africa Cup, Ahmed Saleh of Egypt, has said that the current African number one player on the continent, Aruna Quadri, will be the man to beat when the tournament gets underway.
At 42, Saleh loves to compete in Lagos and as the defending champion of the forthcoming ITTF Africa Cup, the Egyptian veteran believes the atmosphere at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium is a motivating factor for every player.
He is particularly concerned about the threat posed by the present form of Quadri Aruna who set a new record as the first African to reach the semifinal of the WTT Star Contender in Doha, Qatar.
Regarded as the oldest active male table tennis player in Africa, Saleh cannot wait to come to Lagos to defend the title he reclaimed in Tunis in 2020 while admitting that he is ready for the task ahead.
Saleh may not possess the speed and agility that present-day table tennis demands but what the Egyptian has in abundance is his tactical discipline.
Relishing his experience on his previous numerous visits to Lagos, the former African Games champion said: “Lagos is a unique venue every player will always want to play because of the lively atmosphere with the venue always filled up by the fans. This is a unique venue for table tennis in Africa because no other country has this kind of atmosphere even in some European countries you hardly see this kind of lively spectators who understand the sport. But with the present form of Aruna, I must be at my best to overcome players like him in Lagos.”
“It is motivating for us players to play in such an environment that you don’t lack the needed support to want to always give your best. I love the venue and the fans because they support you regardless of your nationality which for me is fair enough for all players,” he said.
“I will always try my best in every competition but I must admit that the speed in the sport is higher now. I will continue to play even at 42 as long as my body can carry me because my life revolves around the sport,” he added.
Meanwhile, the ongoing African Club Championships will enter a crucial stage today after teams from Nigeria, Egypt, and Cote d’Ivoire progressed to the knockout stage of the three-day tournament taking place at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.