Mutua impresses in Africa Top 16 despite loss to Africa’s top stars


Brian Mutua of Kenya returns a serve from Idowu Saheed of Congo during the ITTF ...
Brian Mutua of Kenya returns a serve from Idowu Saheed of Congo during the ITTF Africa Cup match at the Kasarani stadium Indoor Arena on March 01, 2018. (PHOTO/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.com)

In Summary

  • Kenya's Brian Mutua lost 3-0 to Algerian Sami Kherouf of Algeria in the position 9-16 matches of the ITTF Africa Top 16 at the Olympique Stade De Rades in Tunis.
  • Mutua who is the tournament's underdog has impressed with his fighting spirit.

Kenya’s Brian Mutua lost 3-0 to Algerian Sami Kherouf of Algeria in the position 9-16 matches of the ITTF Africa Top 16 at the Olympique Stade De Rades in Tunis.

After failing to secure a quarter final slot, Mutua’s loss at the hands of the North African dipped him to the position 13-16 lot where he lost 3-2 to Theo Cogill of South Africa.

The South African got Mutua’s fixture after losing to Gideon Kassa of Congo.

Speaking in Tunis, Mutua noted that he is hoping to minimise on his costly mistakes.

Nevertheless, Mutua who is the tournament’s underdog has impressed with his fighting spirit.

“When I play with top players I need to be consistent in attack. I tend to make errors while trying to attack instead of being consistent. This has cost me dearly in this tournament. I need to do a lot more on multiple balls and more physical training to be able to reach out to the balls easily,” said Mutua.

In the preliminary stage, Mutua lost two matches and won one. He lost to the group’s top seed Saleh Ahmed of Egypt (0-3) and Fanny Kokou of Togo (1-3) before upsetting South African player Overmeyer Shane 3-2.

Brian beat Overmeyer 11-8 in the first set, and lost 8-11 and 10-12 in the second and third but bounced back to take the last two by an 11-8 margin.

In the match against Fanny, Mutua rallied from a set deficit to pull through in the second set, thanks to an 11-6 comeback. But after a few service errors, he dropped the last two sets (11-6, 11-7) losing the match to the Togolese who savoured a superior back hand.

“I tried my best, to thwart his attacks but service issues nipped my game plan in the bud,” he regretted.

Earlier, Ahmed who is the Group 2 top seed defeated Overmeyer 3-0 (11-3, 11-6, 11-5).

Despite the defeats he has suffered to more established players, Mutua became the cynosure of all eyes in Tunis as the 21-year-old showed that he is a good learner after he humbled one of Africa’s veterans, South Africa’s Shane Overmeyer, in the second round of the men’s singles tie.

The Physical Sciences undergraduate of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology showed that he has come of age as he fought back from behind to claim a 3-2 victory against the 40-year-old South African.

Mutua had this to say about his upset: “Despite winning the first game, I never believe I could defeat Overmeyer because I knew him as one of the continent’s experienced players having watched him play in 2018 in Nairobi.

He added: “One thing I have learnt from playing against some of the top players is that a good player should not be bothered by the pedigree of his opponent. Just focus on the game because in table tennis, anything can happen on table.

“In the game against Overmeyer, I forgot about who he is and just played my game. I am so happy that what happened to me two years ago has been averted here in Tunis and I hope I will continue to improve from here,” he said.

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