Aruna Quadri sets up semi-final clash with Omar Assar at ITTF Africa Cup in Lagos
In what was quite a pulsating quarter-final encounter, Nigeria’s Table Tennis star Aruna Quadri was made to work really hard for his win against Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw to clinch Nigeria’s only ticket to the men’s Singles semis at the 2019 ITTF Africa Cup ongoing in Lagos.
Aruna rode on the support of the ever-cheering home crowd at the Molade Okoya Thomas Indoor Sports Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium as the Nigerian piped Diaw 4-3 to set up a semi-final clash with rival Omar Assar from Egypt.
The Senegalese drew first blood in the thrilling encounter, winning the 1st set 9-11 but Aruna produced a brilliant response taking the 2nd & 3rd set 11-4, 11-3.
Diaw got a grip on the match later on but Aruna’s masterclass helped him see off his opponent, claiming a 4-3 (9-11, 11-4, 11-3, 7-11, 11-2, 7-11, 12-10) win.
Notably, Aruna was the only one of the three Nigerian players qualified for the quarter-finals to advance to the last four with Olajide Omotayo and Bode Abiodun failing to get the better of their Egyptian opponents in Omar Assar and Ahmed Saleh respectively.
Meanwhile, Veteran Segun Toriola saw the end to his campaign in the Round of 16 after succumbing to a 2-4 loss to Congo’s Saheed Idowu. Another Nigerian, Mati Taiwo also faced a 2-4 defeat in another of the Round of 16 clashes decided earlier on Sunday, but against Algeria’s Sami Kherouf in his case.
In the women’s Singles, Offiong Edem will be Nigeria’s sole representative in the semis after she dug deep to defeat her compatriot Funke Oshonaike 3-4 (9-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11) in the quarter-finals.
However, Nigeria’s duo of Fatimo Bello and Ajoke Ojomu could not get past their quarter-final opponents as they suffered defeats to Egypt’s Dina Meshref and Fadwa Garci from Tunisia respectively.
The semi-finals of the continental competition will be decided on Monday with the high point definitely set to be the match up between defending champions Aruna and Assar at midday.
The other area of concern in Nigeria’s perspective will be the match in which Edem takes on Egypt’s Meshref.