Final preparations are in place ahead of the 2018 ITTF Africa Continental Cup that commences on Thursday at Karasani Indoor Gymnasium, Nairobi.
This will be the first time for Kenya to host the tournament which doubles up as the qualifiers to determine the team that will proceed to the 2019 World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest, Hungary. The East African nation previously hosted the World Cup in 1989 which is a plus for a sport that is gaining traction.
The three-day tournament brings together the top 16 male and female players from across the continent. Some of the countries set to be represented are Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, South Africa, Cameroon and hosts Kenya among others.
The Kenyan government has already committed Ksh. 10 million towards hosting of the tournament in conjunction with the Kenya Table Tennis Association (KTTA). According to KTTA’s records for the tourney, Nigeria’s contingent includes four players. They are Moses Segun Toriola, Olufunke Oshonaike, Aruna Quadri and Offong Edem. The team will be under the stewardship of Nosiru Bello.
Egyptian duo of Assar Omar (male) and Dina Meshref (female) are the top seeds heading into the competition. According to International Table Tennis Federation’s ranking, Omar is placed 16th globally in the world while Nigeria’s Quadri is 20th.
Africa Table Tennis Federation President Khaled El-Salhy was optimistic of the outcome of hosting this event. “Thanks to the very progressive efforts of the Kenyan Ministry of Sports and Heritage together with Kenya Table Tennis Association, we find ourselves again in very good hands of the energetic organizing committee.
“The future of our sport will be showcased during the competition through the great efforts of ITTF. I know that at the end of the tournament, Africa will have two good players at the World Cup,” he told The Standard.