Egypt bows out in last 16 of ITTF WTTC as Toriola blames lacks of preparation for poor showing by Africans

Africa’s only surviving team at the ongoing ITTF World Team Table Tennis Federation (WTTC), Egypt on Wednesday, February 21 exited the tournament after an impressive outing in Busan, South Korea.

The Egyptian ladies led by six-time African Champion Dina Meshref worked their way to the second round after finishing second in their group which included France, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Croatia.

Apart from losing to France 3-0, the Egyptian ladies defeated the three European sides to finish second behind France as the only African team that progressed to the second round of the competition.

They were then set up against Chile in the round of 32 and in their usual style, they made no mistake in beating the South American side 3-0 to advance to the last 16 of the tournament.

Drawn against emerging European heavyweight – Romania, the Egyptian ladies wanted to show their quality against the Romanian girls but the experience of their opponents came to the fore through their top star Bernadette Szocs who was tested by teenage sensation Hana Goda.

But all the efforts of the young African champion were thwarted by the European star who claimed a hard-fought 3-1 to set the lead for Romania.

Despite taking an early 2-0 lead against veteran Elizabeta Samara, Meshref could not maintain her lead as she was beaten 3-2.

Yousra Helmy was no match to Adina Diaconu as she fell 3-0 to hand Romania a 3-0 win and a passage to the quarterfinal of the tournament and a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in France.

Following the early exit of most African teams in the competition, Nigeria’s legend Segun Toriola has attributed this to lack of preparation.

“Most African teams did not prepare well for this competition and most of them hurriedly assembled to be part of the championships and this really showed in their performance in Busan.

‘Going forward, we need to take preparation seriously and ensure that our players are in the right frame of mind to compete at the top level.

‘Generally, African teams did not really do well and I hope we can all learn from this experience in Busan,” Toriola who is acting national coach of Nigeria said.

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