Omar Assar of Egypt is the new champion of African table tennis, dethroning Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri, in a thrilling seven games at the ITTFAfrica Cup in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Nigerian had rallied from 1-3 down to force the seventh game, which Assar won 11-8.
Quadri had defeated another Egyptian, Ahmed Saleh in the semi-final for the final battle royale with Assar.
Assar in his own semi-final defeated Saheed Idowu, a Nigerian who plays for Congo Brazzaville.
Egypt also claimed the third place after Ahmed Ali Saleh beat Saheed Idowu.
Nigeria’s veteran Segun Toriola claimed the fifth position; next in the order of merit came Algeria’s Sami Kherouf followed by Tunisia’s Thameur Mamia and Ghana’s Derek Abfrefa.
An Egyptian Dina Meshref also won the female championship, defeating Sarah Hanffou of Cameroon. Nigeria’s Edem Offiong won the bronze.
Said Assar: “It is unbelievable for me to win this tournament and it came at the right time I needed my confidence after starting the year not too well at the Hungarian Open and in the German Bundesliga. There has been a lot of pressure on me after moving clubs. I think winning this will restore my confidence. I am grateful to my club, Werder Bremen, for their support. I also think Aruna played very well and he deserved to win as well. This final was a good showcase for Africa and I am happy that we have such a level of competition in Africa with quality players.”
The win means that Omar Assar gains an invitation to compete in the Liebherr 2018 Men’s World Cup to be staged in October in Paris.
It will be the third time that he has competed in the prestigious annual event; he was present in 2015 in the Swedish west coast city of Halmstad and last year in Saarbrücken.