Egypt’s Omar Assar remains the only African to progress to the second round of the ITTF World Cups Macao 2024 after beating Swedish super star, Truls Moregard in the final group 16 match of the tournament yesterday.

But Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna failed to capitalise on his good start to exit the tournament after a narrow 3-1 loss to Portugal’s Marcos Freitas in the deciding match of Group 15 of the men’s singles.

Assar was at his very best against the Swedish national champion with a commanding display to beat the European star at 3-1 (15-13, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5) and this captivated fans at the Galaxy Arena.

The Egyptian had on Monday beat Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan 4-0 to emerge as the winner of Group 16 and secure his place in the second stage (knockout) of the $1 million prize money championship.

Despite starting well in Group 15, Aruna was at his best against the Portuguese star, but his performance could not match up with that of the European southpaw.

The first game was a close contest, but Aruna surrendered at 12-10; and the second game panned out like the first, and the Nigerian again succumbed at 11-9.

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There was a ray of hope for Aruna in the third game, even when Freitas led from the start and the Nigerian closed up the lead at 9-8, only to lose at 11-9 to confirm the qualification of the Portuguese.

The fourth game was just a formality, won 11-3 by Aruna. The defeat confirmed Aruna’s exit from the tournament despite having the record of being the best African in the tournament, having reached the quarterfinals in 2014 in Germany.

Also, African Champion Hana Goda was knocked out of the women’s event after losing 4-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9) to Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz in the final group match after losing 3-1 in her group opener to Portugal’s Fu Yu.

Egypt’s trio of Mohamed El-Beiali, Yousra Helmy, and Mariam Alhodaby also exited the tournament, while Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou lost all her Group matches to bow out of the competition.

Following the conclusion of the first stage, the top performer from each Group will progress to Stage 2. This stage will feature an electrifying knockout draw with a best-of-seven-game format, where players will compete head-to-head until a champion emerges.