The best table tennis playing nations in Africa – Egypt and Nigeria will lead other teams from the continent to the 2018 ITTF World Team Championships holding in Halmstad, Sweden.
The eight-day tournament kicks off on Sunday April 29 at the Halmstad Arena with 87 teams competing for the top prize while Egypt will be spearheading Africa’s onslaught in the championship division as Nigeria flies the continent’s flag in the second division.
Others like Congo Brazzaville, Tunisia, Morocco and South Africa will be campaigning in the third division.
As Africa’s champion and having competed at the 2018 World Team Cup held in London, Egypt automatically qualifies to compete in the championship and their men and women teams have been drawn in tough groups which include Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden, Romania and Slovenia.
With the absence of Nigeria’s women team having failed to attend the 2016 African Championship, the men’s team led by Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Aruna Quadri will battle Argentina, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Australia in Group F with the top two teams advancing to the quarterfinal stage.
For Egypt’s Omar Assar, it will be a return home as the African champion returns to the city that gave him his first professional contract.
Assar said, “I am so happy that I will play again in Halmstad where I lived and played for the club for three years. I am dreaming of a high position this time in Halmstad. I have many friends and fans in Sweden so I am looking forward to have a great support in a Halmstad for me and for the Egyptian team.”
The Germany-based star is not giving up on Egypt’s chance in the group. “I believe the best way is to think step-by-step and every match has its own strategy so we need to keep fit and focus then the result will come,” he added.