African table tennis has a new star in the making as Egyptian teenager Hana Goda defeated Africa’s number one player Dina Meshref 4-2 in the first semifinal of the women’s singles event at the 2021 African ITTF Championship in Yaounde, Cameroon.
After the brilliant performance and eventual elimination of Nigerian youngster Samuel Boboye in the men’s event, the focus shifted to Goda, who was representing Egypt for the first time in a senior tournament despite being only 13 years old. She had already performed brilliantly in flawlessly defeating 45-year-old legendary Nigerian player Funke Oshonaike 4-0 in their Round of 16 clash earlier in the tournament. Hana Goda also played an important part in the Egyptian women’s team’s 3-0 victory over the Nigerian women’s team in the final of the teams event. She defeated 34-year-old Offiong Edem in the first match to set the tone for their victory.
The teenager was facing Africa’s most successful player of the last decade and compatriot Dina Meshref for a place in the final of the women’s singles event. Meshref, 27, was yet to drop a single set in the entire tournament, having won her Round of 32, Round of 16 and Quarterfinal matches 4-0.
Hana Goda showed that she was up to the task by winning the first set 12-10. Meshref showed her mettle and claimed the next two sets 11-8 and 11-7, to go into the lead for the first time in the match before Hana Goda fought back brilliantly to emerge victorious. The 13-year-old won the next three sets 11-8, 12-10, and 11-9 to pick up the win and book her place in the final of the singles event, where she will face compatriot AlHodaby Mariam.
AlHodaby Mariam defeated fellow Egyptian Helmy Yousra 4-2 in the other semifinal. AlHodaby won the first set 11-4 before surrendering the second set to Helmy 12-10. Two wins of 11-8 and 11-6 followed in quick succession for AlHodaby as she took control of the match before Helmy won her second set 20-18. AlHodaby won the final set 11-5 to clinch the victory and book her final match against Hana Goda.