A narrow escape for Congo Brazzaville

If there is any match that enlivened the venue of the ITTF African Senior Championships, it was the encounter between Congo Brazzaville and Algeria in the men’s team event.

As the number three seeded team, Congo Brazzaville led by their Portugal-based Saheed Idowu was not expecting any threat from their Algerian opponent but things turned out the other way as they were made to work hard for their victory.

The Algerian inspired by KHEROUF Sami took a 2-0 lead with Kherouf and KARALI Naim beating BIENATIKI Christ and Idowu 3-1 and 3-2 respectively to be aiming for an upset.

But LIGNANDZI Michel changed the tone of the match for Congo Brazzaville when he overcame ZAIDI Mohammed Salah 3-0 to put the encounter at 2-1.

Idowu who suffered an expected defeat against Algeria’s Karali returned to the table to humble Kherouf 3-2.

READ ALSO: Congo Brazzaville threatens Nigeria, Egypt

The fifth game which was the decider had the qualities of a final and with regular pep talk from Idowu; Bienatiki Christ became the hero for Congo Brazzaville as he defeated Karali 3-2 to ensure that Congo Brazzaville did not suffer an upset.
A relief Idowu admitted that it was an exciting win as he had to endure a shoulder injury throughout the match. “Before coming to Morocco I had a shoulder injury in my club in Portugal but I managed to play in Morocco. When I was leading the Algerian player 2-0, the injury returned and I could not move my hand. So I had to just take the match easy so that I would worsen the injury. I must also admit that the match was a bit hard for us and I was a bit happy that we managed to win.

It was a very big relief for me and the entire team because when I knew it was Bienatiki that would play the final game, I just told the coaches to allow me talk to him. They agreed and I just told him to relax and play his game. He did listen and it paid off for us. I am just happy that we won because I have been under pressure as the main man of the team,” Idowu admitted.
The hero of the day for Congo Brazzaville, Bienatiki Christ believes his self-believe coupled with the pep talk from his stand-in coach; Idowu aided his victory in the final game. “When I knew I would be playing the deciding match I just told myself that I must be determined and confidence to go into the match. Idowu told me a lot of things that really helped but I was sure within myself that even if he is the best player, I will try my best to win the match.
I must admit that the belief I had really worked well for me and I am happy helping the team in this crucial encounter,” Bienatiki said.