Thursday, February 11, 2016 4:52 pm
The stage is set and the players have started arriving Khartoum in Sudan for the 2016 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup, which serves as qualifiers for the ITTF World Cups.
Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria and Congo Brazzaville are presenting two players each in the men and women events while Congo DRC, Djibouti, Ghana, Libya, Madagascar, Togo, Tunisia, Cameroon and host – Sudan have one representative each at the two-day tournament.
Already, Egypt’s Omar Assar and Dina Meshref have been seeded number one respectively in the men and women events while the tournament would provide another platform for Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri and Egypt’s Assar to renew their continental rivalry in which the Egyptian dominated the Nigerian throughout 2015.
The players and officials are now set for the draws for the tournament holding on Saturday February 13 at the International Conference Centre in Khartoum, venue of the championship.
The 16 listed players will be drawn into four groups of four while matches will be played in a round robin format. The top two players in each group advance to the knock-out stage.
The first day of the competition – Sunday February 14, will witness the group matches with the two top players emerging on same day. The knockout matches will hold the second day – Monday February 15 with the winners in the men and women emerging to become the continent flagbearers at the 2016 ITTF World Cups.
According to the President of the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), Khaled El-Salhy, everything has been put in place by the Sudanese government to ensure a hitch-free competition. “I am so satisfied with the quality of organisation for the event and I believe I am well pleased after knowing that the Sudan Vice President and the Minister of Sports have guaranteed ITTF and ATTF that all facilities will be available more than expected,” he said.
El-Salhy believes the tournament would provide the players the opportunity to tune up for the World Team Championship in Malaysia. “I’m so sure that all top players in Africa are well prepared for the ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup, trying to qualify for 2016 ITTF World Cups, followed by the final Olympics Qualification to select the remaining two slots in men and iwomen to fulfill the African Quota for Rio Olympic Games. And don’t forget that most of those top players are putting in mind also the Perfect 2016 WTTC in Malaysia due to its importance for ITTF ranking that will affect the qualification for team event for Rio, ” he said.