Quadri Aruna and Omar Assar will again take their rivalry to Nairobi, Kenya when the 2023 Africa Cup kicks off on May 4 to 6 at Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani, Kenya.
Aruna who missed out from the title in 2022 after suffering a thigh injury in the final to concede the title to Assar at 4-3 will be hoping to reclaim the title following his recent form at international tournaments across the globe.
Aruna, presently ranked the 12th in the world, is the highest ranked African in the world while Assar is rated 33rd as the second best rated African.
Current African best ranked female Dina Meshref is at present in fine form following her display at the just concluded WTT Champions in China will be up against compatriot and defending champion Hana Goda who claimed her first continental title in Lagos last year.
Each participating country is expected to present two players each in men and women events while Egypt as the defending champions in men and women will nominate two players alongside the two champions.
Kenya as host will present four players each in men and women events while Brian Mutua will lead the East African team against the visitors.
Already, the organisers of the tournament, Kenya Table Tennis Association (KTTA) has assured of a top class event having staged the same event in 2018.
The Africa Club Championships will precede the Africa Cup and both tournaments would serve as dress rehearsals for the first World Championships to be staged in Africa in 84 years, which is due to take place in Durban, South Africa from May 20 to 28.
President of KTTA Andrew Mudibo has no iota of doubt that Kenya is ready to host Africa.
“The preparation is on course and Kenya will be ready to host all delegations to the event.
“Yes, Kenya has started to host major events again and this is in line with our development agenda in terms of developing the local talents we have. In the past Kenya hosted the ITTF World Cup and we have also hosted the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships and several African events,” the KTTA chief stated.
He continued: “For us in Kenya, every event that one participates in is always a unique event.
“Only the competitors and delegations will be able to give a testimony on the ups and downs of the event that Kenya is hosting once they arrive here. We believe that as usual, the event will be one of great experience and good memories, which all will talk about for many years. That is the uniqueness we hope to achieve.
“The Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani Indoor Gymnasium, which is the venue of the event, is ready. Set-up for the event will be done two days before the championships kick off. The rooms at Ibis Styles where the teams will put up are ready to receive each member of the delegation.
“Kenya has put in place a fast-track visa process for all delegations coming for the event. The transport from the airport to the hotel and hotel to the venue is ready and we believe everything will run smoothly,” Mudibo assured.
Mudibo added that teams should expect to see the rich culture of Kenya on display at the event. “We are considering having some Kenyan cultural dances at either the opening or closing ceremony. Definitely we shall have something,” he disclosed.
Mudibo stressed that the Kenyan outing promised to be exciting. “As a sport table tennis is a festival we Africans celebrate each day.
“We shall showcase to the world that Africa has what it takes to hold world-class events and I am sure this will be the case with the World Championships later in the month of May which South Africa would host.
“Africa has come a long way in terms of competitiveness. Through such events, our players should be able to catch up with the rest of the World. If Africa can produce local, good players like Hana Goda of Egypt, then the future of table tennis is quite bright for Africa. This is just the tip of the iceberg to display our talent,” the KTTA boss said.