Egypt became the first country in the world to formally confirm their place in the table tennis event of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after beating Nigeria to the gold medals in the men and women team events of 12th African Games holding in Rabat, Morocco.

It was the Egyptian ladies that first secured their slot after beating Nigeria 3-2 in the final. The comeback of the Nigeria team was thwarted by Dina Meshref.

The Nigerian ladies were down 2-0 but spirited efforts from Edem Offiong and Olufunke Oshonaike to put the match at par with the Egyptians were thwarted by the African Champion in the fifth match which was deciding when she beat Cecilia Akpan 3-0 to hand Egypt the gold medal.

Just like it happened in the women, the same scenario played out in the men as Nigeria had to come from 2-0 down to level up at 2-2.

The sheer determination from Aruna Quadri and Olajide Omotayo restored Nigeria into the match but Omar Assar avoided what played out in 2015 when he dismissed veteran Segun Toriola who is aiming for eight Olympic Games with a 3-0 bashing.

An excited Ahmed Saleh of Egypt described the win as important to the team.

“I think this is the most important match for us because we had prepared very well for it in the last five months. We expected that we will meet Nigeria in the final and we were really surprised with the doubles’ line-up of Nigeria when they paired Aruna Quadri and Segun Toriola becuase they have been playing with the pair of Toriola and Olajide Omotayo since the start of the tournament. This is very important for us picking the gold medals and securing our place at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan,” Saleh said.

An elated Meshref described the win as crucial for the team having put in months of training..

“We are so excited winning the gold medal and most especially qualifying for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. We really prepared for this match and we knew it was going to be tough even when we were leading 2-0. We had thought we could the match at 3-0 but we had to fight till the end. Nigeria team is not a pushover and we prepared very well for this kind of match because we had expected it. I am so happy that we have now secured our place in Tokyo,” said Meshref.