Despite finishing as runner’s up at the 2020 African Cup in Tunisia earlier this year, Nigerian table tenis star, Aruna Quadri has been listed among the top 20 players in the world that will compete at the ITTF Men’s World Cup scheduled for November in China.
In a statement released by International Table Tenis Federation, ITTF, the Men’s and Women’s World Cups will kick-start the restart on international table tennis competitions after several months of suspended activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quadri and African Cup champion, Egypt’s Ahmed Saleh will compete in the men’s event while African Cup women’s champion Dina Meshref of Egypt is the sole representative of Africa in the women’s World Cup.
Quadri was selected based on the world ranking which makes him the highest ranked African in the world rated 20th in the globe and he will be parting in his third consecutive World Cups being the first African to qualify to the quarterfinal of the competition following his exploits at the 2014 edition in Dusseldorf, Germany.
According to ITTF, the World Cups will feature 20 female and 20 male athletes, including the World Champion, qualified players from all completed continental events (Africa, Europe and Pan America) and players selected by world ranking from the other continents (Asia and Oceania) as well as the whole world according to the provisional World Cup playing system.
The players from Asia are the same who would have played at the 2020 Asian Cup, had it not been cancelled due to COVID-19. The men’s star-studded field include China’s Ma Long who is considered by many as the greatest table tennis player of all time, and he will be looking to add the 2020 Men’s World Cup to his burgeoning trophy cabinet.
Ma Long is joined by world no.1, Fan Zhendong (China), who lifted the 2019 Men’s World Cup in Chengdu, as well as a number of other top Asian players to have qualified via their world ranking, such as teenage talents, Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan), world no.4 and just 16 years of age, and Lin Yun-Ju (Chinese Taipei), world no.7 and 18 years old.
Europe is providing plenty of strength, especially in the form of German pair, Timo Boll, who qualifies off the back of his 2019 Europe Cup victory, and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the former world no.1 entering as a wild card.