Kenyans confident as world championship qualifiers begin
Kenyans will be looking to face the continent’s best in World Championship qualifiers which serve off at Kasarani today.
The ITTF-Africa Cup has attracted the creme de la creme of Africa’s table tennis, including Omar Assar of Egypt and his long-standing rival, Aruna Quadri of Nigeria.
Assar arrived in the country on Monday and immediately embarked on his final face of the event.
“I have won nine continental titles and I am very hungry to make It 10! So let’s hope Inshallah it will happen in Kenya. It’s my second time in Nairobi. The first time I performed very well with God’s help in 2018. So, we are here again in a really nice country,” said Assar, adding: “Aruna will be playing too and he’s one of the favourites for the title. Last time we had a very good match and a very good rivalry. I’m looking forward to having a good perfor-mance and even a better match this time.”
The home campaign will be spearheaded by Brian Mutua and University of Nairobi’s Bachelor of Arts Second Year student Lisa Wele.
Kenya’s team also has Bahati Rufina, school teacher Lydia Setey and JKUAT student Mary Kinyua who was handed a wildcard entry to the event.
Mutua, who made his Kenya team debut at the Beau Bassin Sports Complex in Mauritius during the 2017 Eastern African Regional Championships,, will be joined by IT expert Josiah Wandera and Peter Theuri whilst Bonface Musyoki joins the squad on a wildcard entry.
Wele is one of the team’s rising stars having won gold in the East African School Games in 2019, and KUSF University Games in KIbabi in 2021. She also took part in the 2019 All African Games in Morocco and the recent ITTF-Africa regional championship in Djibouti.
Wele said: “Always a great pleasure representing my country in a continental extravaganza. It is an incredibly rewarding achievement, whether you have competed for the national team or if this is your first call-up. I had an opportunity to represent Kenya at the All Africa Games in Morocco and I feel confident going into the event. The essence is to focus on these last few weeks as we count down to the event at Kasarani.”
Kinyua, the East Africa High School Games silver medallist in 2019, is Team Kenya’s newest protégé banking on her illustrious offensive skills against the continent’s best.
The men’s team is equally experienced and resilient.
Kenya Table Tennis Association (KTTA) President Andrew Mudibo said: “This will be the second time in five years that we will be hosting a continen-tal event. In 2018, we hosted the Africa Cup, which was the World Cup qualifiers for the continent and the championship was voted the best organized event in the World by the International Table Tennis Federation.”
Mudibo added that the top players led by Egyptian Omar Assar and Nigerian star Aruna Quadri will be in Nairobi for the event.
“In the Women’s category, Egyptian duo of teenage sensation Hana Goda and the 2018 Ladies Winner Dina Meshref, will also grace the Nairobi ex-travaganza,” Mudibo concluded.