Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna ‘Gave Almost Everything’ At Africa Cup

By Anulika Menanya, Lagos

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Quadri Aruna was beaten 4-3 (12-14,11-8,11-4,11-13,6-11,11-5,7-11) by Egypt’s Omar Assar in the final of the men’s singles category of the ITTF Africa Cup, and the Nigerian said he “gave almost everything” in the match as he played with an injury at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

It was a close game between the two top ranked players and Aruna was leading 4-1 in the last set when he suffered a tightening in his thigh and collapsed on court.

He was immediately attended to by the medical team and was back on court in 15 minutes, but his return did not yield any result as he managed only 3 points with the scores at 11-7 at the end of the set.

Quadri Aruna on a medical time out after picking up an injury during ITTF Africa Cup final against Omar Assar

“Of course, I gave almost everything, from when I could move, to when I couldn’t move very well again,” said Aruna, who was disappointed with the loss.

“I was already feeling tightness from my thigh. Despite that, of course I never gave up, as I was still fighting on until finally at 3-3, and at 4-0, I was leading. It is one of those things in sports, but I am very happy with my performance.”

Assar who claimed his third Africa Cup title was also unhappy about the injury to his very good friend.

Egypt’s Omar Assar beat Quadri Aruna of Nigeria to emerge champion in the men’s category of the ITTF Africa Cup at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, Nigeria.

“I am happy that I won today, but at this time, I am worried about Aruna’s injury. Aruna and I are very close friends outside the court,” Assar said.

“To me, the most important thing is that he is healthy and that he is not in pain. I wish him all the best and soonest recovery.”

Ahmed Saleh emerged victorious in the bronze medal match against compatriot, Mohamed El-Beiali 3-1 (11-5, 11-4, 9-11, 11-7)

It was a sad day for the Lagos fans especially after another Nigerian, Fatimo Bello, lost in the women’s singles final. Second seeded 14 year old, Hana Goda overcame unseeded Fatimo Bello in four straight sets (11-6,11-5,11-4,11-5), becoming the youngest winner of the Africa Cup.

The record setting Goda was excited winning her first continental title on her first visit to Lagos.

“I am very excited and very thankful that I won. Everything here in Lagos is so good. From the organisation to the hospitality, everyone here is so kind and the fans, they make you feel so ready in the match,” Goda said.

“Before the final I was really motivated with the fans’ support and I’m going to remember this place forever because when you win your first senior title, you will be happy in it forever.”

Bello, who was playing in her first Africa Cup final, did not stand a chance against the U15 and U17 world No1’s fast serve and a player that had beaten veteran Olufunke Oshonaike of Nigeria and defending champion, Dina Meshref of Egypt on her way to the final.

Bello said finishing in second place is a victory for her but admitted her opponent was too fast for her.

Fatima Bello

“I am very very happy I wasn’t expecting this. I am happy I got to the finals. She was very fast and I was having problem with her service that was why I couldn’t play well,” Bello said.

It was also an Egyptian affair in the women’s bronze medal tie which saw Meshref beat Alhodaby 3-1 (11-6, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5)

The three-day tournament had 48 players (28 men and 20 women) across Africa competing in the men’s and women’s singles events.

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