They are the best table tennis-playing nations in Africa. They have lived up to the ratings with their flawless performance at this tournament. And to the delight of the fans of the sport, the two giants are up against each other at the 2021 ITTF African Championships.
In this battle of the bigwigs, Nigeria aims to equal the 12-title records of Egypt in the men’s event, while the Egyptians are hoping to continue their dominance over the Nigerian ladies.
Both countries are flawless in all their matches from the group stage to the final berth. The Nigerian ladies were pushed to the limit by the youthful Tunisian girls in the final group two match. However, they scaled through to top the group and went ahead to edge out Algeria, which sets up this final clash against the Egyptians.
From the maiden edition of the tournament in 1962, Egypt men have claimed the title 12 times (1962, 1964, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016), while Nigeria won the title in 1968, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 2008 and 2018.
From available records in the women’s event, Egypt’s dominance is obvious with the North Africans claiming 13 of the 23 last editions while Nigeria managed to win nine. Egypt had won the last four editions.
According to table tennis buffs, the battle for the gong in the men’s final will be between Quadri Aruna and Omar Assar who are the two players from the continent to have reached the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games. However, Assar is considered the rave of the moment following his scintillating display at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
From the look of things, Egypt may have an edge in the female final, considering the current form of the North African young team. However, to triumph Nigeria will be relying on the experience of seven-time Olympian, Olufunke Oshonaike and Offiong Edem.