The 3rd Mutual Benefits National Badminton Championship holding at the Mutual Benefit / Police College Badminton Hall in Ikeja, Lagos entered it’s 3rd day on Friday with some of the outcomes failing to click to predictions.
In the Men’s Singles event, in what has become a sort of the championship’s tradition, Nigeria’s and Africa’s number 1, Anuoluwapo Opeyori squares up against traditional rival and Nigeria’s Nigeria number 2 and Africa’s number 3 Men’s Singles player, Godwin Olufua in an all-Lagos state Finals.
Anu had earlier breezed past Babatunde Bankole, a young junior international player from Ogun state in the Quarter Finals stage and Isaac Minaphee of Rivers state to book a place at the Finals, while Godwin Olufua defeated Ahmad B.Umar, the Captain of Nigeria’s Junior National team, Bauchi state player at the Quarter Finals and Aliyu Shehu of Niger state to set up a rematch of the championship’s MS Finals.
In the Women’s Singles category, African reigning Queen of badminton and Nigeria’s Number One Women’s Singles player, Dorcas Adesokan of Ogun State defeated Grace Gabriel of Plateau state in the Semifinals to reach the Finals of the category while Ruth Ebere of Katsina state defeated Deborah Ukeh Divine of Edo state to set up a Finals clash with Adesokan. Worthy of note is the successful comeback bid of the sensational Grace Gabriel who was Nigeria’s former Number One Women Singles player who has had a very long layoff for academic reasons. Getting to the Semifinals stage and indeed winning a joint third spot is highly commendable as well as exciting.
Another noteworthy aspect of the Semifinals is this being the first time that Deborah Ukeh-Divine has not qualified for the Finals of the Mutual Benefits meet.
The Men’s Doubles finals is an exciting match of Young Blood vs Experience as the African /Nigerian Number One MD pair of Anuoluwapo Opeyori /Godwin Olufua (Lagos) prepare to lock horns with the pair of Eneojo Joseph Abah/ Isaac Minaphee (Rivers).
Anu O./Godwin O. dispatched the upcoming pair of Ahmad B.Umar/ AbdulHameed M.Waleed of Bauchi state while E.Abah /I.Minaphee (Rivers) had to rest the young pair of Tunde Bankole/Simeon Idowu (Ogun) to reach the Finals.
The Women’s Doubles event produced a hitherto “unknown” pair of Zainab D.Alabi / Sofiyat O.Obanishola (Kwara) in the Finals after defeating a formidable pair of Tosin Atolagbe-Davies / Zainab Momoh. The exciting part of this pair is that they are both Junior National Team members.
Sofiyat is the youngest member the Team Nigeria Badminton team to the All African Games in Morocco a few weeks back, where she posted a superlative performance to clinch a valuable bronze in the WS event of the Individual Championship.
They meet Ogun’s pair of Dorcas A./Asisat Ogunkanbi (Ogun) who qualified at the expense of Deborah U./Peace Orji-Abah whom they edged out.
The Mixed Doubles event Finals will see the tussle between Africa’s Number Two Mixed Doubles Team, which is also Nigeria’s Number One, Eneojo Joseph Abah, the friendly and respected Captain of the Senior National Team and his beautiful wife/partner, Peace Orji-Abah against the pair of FCT’s Yunusa Momoh/Ramatu Yakubu.
Yunusa M./Ramatu Y. had earlier overran Jovita Anikwe / Q.Chibuzor of Anambra state at the Semifinals while Eneojo J.A./ Peace Orji-Abah had stopped Niger state’s pair of Aliyu Shehu/M.Mohammed to raise expectations of retaining their position.
Overall, the level of the game has risen exponentially over the last year and newcomers are knocking on the doors of those considered traditional winners of some categories.
The Finals will expectedly start on Saturday at 10am while the closing ceremony starts at 2pm.