They are considered title contenders and they showed that they are in for business; this was reflected on Day One of the ITTF Africa Cup as top seeds – Quadri Aruna, Ahmed Saleh, Omar Assar, Mariam Alhodaby, Hana Goda and Dina Meshref enjoyed a smooth ride to the knockout stage of the three-day tournament taking place at Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Toast of the home fans Aruna was not really tested in his group as he recorded 3-0 wins over Senegal’s Hamidou Sow and Congo Brazzaville’s Saheed Idowu.
Saleh was made to work harder for his victory over Cameroon’s Ylane Batix. Despite claiming a close 2-0 (11-8, 14-12) lead over the young Cameroonian, Saleh was tested in the third game as his opponent won 11-9. In his usual style, the Egyptian veteran made use of his experience to work his way back to victory with a 12-10 win to sail through to the knockout stage after walking over Congo DRC’s Exauce Ngefuassa. Assar, Goda, and Meshref all booked their places in the knockout.
However, Olufunke Oshonaike was tested by Tunisian teenager Maram Zoghlami with the match ending 3-2 (11-26, 6-11, 12-14, 11-5, 11-5) to book a spot in the last 16. Offiong Edem also sailed through to the knockout while Tunisia’s Fadwa Garci joined the league of the bigwigs in the round of 16.
Nigeria’s duo of Olajide Omotayo and Bode Abiodun secured their places and they will be joined in the last 16 by Egypt’s Mohammed El-Beiali. In the women’s singles, Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou sailed through and despite losing one of their group matches, Nigeria’s pair of Ajoke Ojomu and Fatimo Bello made it to the last 16.
Despite exciting matches in the first round, there were no upsets as most of the top seeds progressed to the knockout round of the championships.
Meanwhile, the ongoing ITTF Africa Cup will be live-streamed for spectators around the world.
The tournament serves as a qualifier for this year’s World Table Tennis (WTT) Cup Finals.
The idea of live streaming matches at the tournament was conceived during a productive meeting between ITTF Africa and the management of India-based global sports tech, Stupa Sports Analytics, according to ITTF Africa, President Khaled El-Salhy.
The ITTF Africa Cup is the company’s first official tournament in Africa to be live-streamed.
“We are really thrilled about this development because it will allow fans in Africa and around the world to see their favorite African players as matches from all seven tables will be live-streamed to the entire world on the Stupa platforms. We hope that this partnership will have a good impact on the sport as a whole. We are looking forward to it and hope that it will benefit both parties,” the ITTF Africa president said.
“We are very delighted to begin the first phase of our strategic cooperation with ITTF Africa in order to increase worldwide access to African table tennis.” Stupa CEO Megha Gambhir remarked.
“We truly appreciate the board of ITTF Africa’s support for the project and their interest in giving the sport in Africa a modern shape,” Gambhir added.
The 2022 ITTF Africa Cup will be broadcast live on the Stupa mobile application throughout the day and all of the tables will be covered real-time. It can be accessed from anywhere in the world.