*To reclaim my title from the caretaker
By Adeyemi Robinson-Adefioye, Lagos
As the most successful player in the history of the championship and since the inception of the ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open in 2013, Egypt’s Omar Assar has been unbeaten apart from his absence in 2016, which paved way for Finland’s Benedek Olah to claim the men’s singles title.
Omar Assar, who recently moved to Germany to sign for Werder Bremen in the German Bundesliga, believes his huge fans base in Lagos has made the city a fortress for him.
“I cannot wait to return to Lagos this year because last year, it was a bit tight for me as my club had two crucial matches to beat the drop in the French league. It was the same situation that affected Aruna Quadri as he could not also make it to the tournament last year. But this year, I cannot wait to come to Lagos again as I am eagerly looking forward to reclaim my title from anyone that is holding forth to it,” Assar said.
Assar, who is yet to get over the 4-3 loss to Aruna Quadri at the 2017 ITTF Africa Cup, describes the atmosphere at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun as players’ delight.
“I cannot compare the atmosphere in Lagos to anywhere in the world because the fans are always there to cheer the players. They always want to enjoy the matches regardless of who is playing. The vibes coupled with the applause from them most time inspire players to always want to give their best and I am looking forward to this situation again. The Lagos fans are awesome and I cannot wait to arrive,” the 2015 African games gold medallist added.
Apart from Omar Assar, who will be leading the eight-man Egyptian male team, two-time runner’s up in the women’s singles and African Champion, Dina Meshref will be spearheading the four-man Egyptian female team to Lagos.