Africa’s number one ranked table tennis star, Aruna Quadri, on Saturday, once again failed to repeat the 2019 feat of winning the International Table Tennis Federation African Cup in a dramatic 3-4 loss to Egyptian Omar Assar in an injury blighted finals.
Quadri, apparently nursing a thigh injury before the game was broken at the sixth set, called for a time out.
This was for the medics to attend to him.
Quadri, in order not to be overwhelmed by the Assar, who had defeated him 4-1 at the last 2021 Championships in Yaounde Cameroon, decided to continue the match at 3-3, while he was leading by 4-1 before his injury was aggravated.
In a fury of strokes and smashes at finals of the men’s singles, both stars were inseparable close ranked wins, which stood at, 12-14, 11-8, 11-4, 11-13, 6-11, 11-5, 7-11, while the final match ended 11-5 in favour of Assar.
Assar then went on to win the coveted $5,000 star prize, while Quadri settled for $2,500.
In the female single event, Nigeria’s rave of the moment, Fatimoh Bello, suffered a 0-4 defeat in the hands of Egyptian sensation, 14-year-old Hana Goda.
The one-sided final match in the face of intimidating Lagos fans saw Bello lost to a focused, determined and resilient Goda in 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 and 11-5 win.
Bello, who berthed her first ever final at the ITTF African Cup, enjoyed more of the home support, but could not withstand Goda’s accurate smashes.
In an interview on the sidelines of the match, Quadri said he was not disappointed with his performance, adding that such unexpected circumstances were not strange in sports.
He said: “I am not disappointed with the result.
“This is sports and as athletes we should expect the good, bad and the ugly.
“I am not disappointed with my result only that the fans wanted me to reward their support with a win over Assar, which I was unable to do.
“Maybe my injury contributed to that.
“I have been attending many tournaments before now.
“Maybe my body needs to rest before taking up the next challenge.”
Assar said he felt so sorry for his opponent and he wished he could recover quickly.
He said: “I feel so sorry for him on the injury.
“He is a great guy and we have been together for some years back now.
“He put up a good game with crowd behind him, but a winner must emerge here.
“I hope he recovers quickly.”