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Toriola Explains Why Aruna’s Absence Affected Nigeria’s Performance In Busan –

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Toriola Explains Why Aruna’s Absence Affected Nigeria’s Performance In Busan -

There is no doubt that Nigeria is out of contention for a place in the knockout stage of the ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships taking place in Busan, South Korea, but handler of the team Segun Toriola has attributed the team’s early exit to the absence of their talisman Quadri Aruna.

Aruna withdrew from the tournament following the illness he had few days to the competition and his absence may have affected the fortunes of Nigeria in the Asian city of Busan.

 

“It is obvious that the absence of Aruna affected the team’s performance because being a top player, his presence alone would have motivated his teammates to do well.

 

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“Even before our match against Japan was a walk-over , the technical crew of the Asian giant were fretting thinking that Aruna may pose a big challenge for them. Fortunately for them, Aruna withdrew for them to have an easy passage in the competition.

 

“Aruna no doubt is one of the most respected players in the world because of his quality and for me his presence in the team would mentally and psychologically help his teammates to do well.

 

“We lost to Madagascar because we don’t have him in the team because the Madagascans are a strong team and looking down on them will not be entertained,” Toriola admitted.

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The former African champion who was named as the acting coach of the national team by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) said it is time that young players were exposed to top class competitions just like Tunisia and other African nations have been doing lately.

 

“We need to start exposing our young players to competitions of this magnitude so that they can learn from the likes of Aruna and Olajide Omotayo.

 

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“This will boost their morale going into any competition just like what Tunisia has been doing lately. Other countries like Algeria now have quality players who had failed to make the French team and are now seeking success in their native country to be able to make it to the Olympic Games.

 

“We need to watch out for this kind of player and we must continue to support our young players in their quest to compete favourably with their foreign counterparts,” he added.

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Assar hits 14th, Aruna remains static in 19th in latest ITTF Ranking

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Assar, Aruna, lead six other Africans to 2024 ITTF World Cups

For his second-round finish at the 2024 ITTF World Cups in Macao, Omar Assar has risen to 14th in the 2024 Week 17 of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) due to be released on Tuesday, April 23.

The three-time African Games champion became the only African that progressed to the second round in the men’s singles after beating Iran’s Nosham Alamiyan and Sweden’s Truls Moregard to top Group 16.

The Egyptian has been in fine form since his 4-3 triumph over Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna at the 13th African Games in Ghana and his performance has rubbed positively on his ranking fortunes as he broke into the top 16 after Ghana’s win.

Following a remarkable performance in the group stage at the ITTF World Cup, Assar was set up against Japan’s Shunsuke Togami and in a hard-fought match, it was the Japanese that triumphed with as a 4-2 (11-7, 12-14, 11-8, 10-12, 11-5, 11-3) win to stop the unbeaten run of the 2023 African Cup champion.

From 16th spot in Week 17, Assar rose to 14th as the best rated African in the world and considered as his career best ranking. He will be heading to next month’s African Cup in Kigali, Rwanda, where he aims to defend his title against some of the finest players in the continent.

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Meanwhile, Aruna who managed a 4-0 victory over Daniel Gonzalez of Puerto Rico and later lost 1-3 to Portugal’s Marcos Freitas to exit in the first round of the ITTF World Cups, remained static in 19th place in the world rating.

 Despite withdrawing from the ITTF World Cups, Egypt’s Dina Meshref maintained his status as the best ranked African in the world rated 24th while her compatriot – Hana Goda is second in the continent ranked 30th in the world.

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Bigwigs await qualifiers in main draws of national table tennis championships

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Top seeds are still in their relaxed mood in anticipation of facing up against qualifiers in the singles events of the 4th Michael & Felicia Alabi Memorial National Table Tennis Championships taking place in Otan Ayegbaju in Osun State.

The Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF)-sanctioned ranking event is organised by the Osun State Table Tennis Association (OSTTA) with support from the Michael & Felicia Memorial Foundation and Cadana-based Jodal Health Care attracted record entries from 28 states across the country.

The likes of Amadi Umeh of Edo, Akinwale Fagbamila of Ondo and Augustine Emmanuel of Lagos as well as Rivers’ Bisola Asaju and Kwara’s Sukurat Aiyelabegan enjoyed rest day on Day One of the national ranking tournament as some of the unseeded players slug it out in their bid to join the tops seeds in the main draw of the competition.

From the format of the tournament, eight players have been seeded in men and women singles events while others will battle for the eight slots each available in the main draw of the men’s and women’s singles events.

For the first time, deaf players will battle in the men’s and women’s singles event while para-athletes will jostle for honours in four events being part of the inclusiveness initiative by the organisers.

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On Day 2, April 23, U-15 boys and girls will begin their quest for glory from the knockout stage while the doubles events will take centre stage.

According to the competition manager, Segun Peters, this year’s tournament witnessed a huge improvement from the previous editions in terms of organisation and other logistics for participating teams and players.

Specifically, Peters lauded the sponsors for the hospitality as well as the conducive environment put in place for the players to showcase their talents.

According to NTTF, the tournament would be used to rank the players nationally for this year.

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African Games medallists ready for Michael & Felicia Alabi National Table Tennis championships 

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Three of the players who claimed medals for Nigeria at the 13th African Games are expected to be among the competitors at the 4th Michael & Felicia Alabi Memorial National Table Tennis Championships taking place in Otan Ayegbaju in Osun State.

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The annual tournament is organised by the Osun State Table Tennis Association (OSTTA) with technical support from the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) and sponsored by the Michael & Felicia Alabi Memorial as well as Canada-based Jodal Health Care.

The championships have also been upgraded to a national ranking event for the players as the results will be used to determine the ranking of local-based players.

Teenage sensation Matthew Kuti; Amadi Umeh, and Sukurat Aiyelabegan are among the top players confirmed for the men’s and women’s singles events by the organisers as over 28 states will be heading to the Land of Virtue for the five-day tournament.

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Apart from being a medallist at the African Games, Kuti and Umeh will be aiming for the top prize as both players will be relying on the experience they garnered at the African Games while Aiyelabegan will slug it out with the likes of Bisola Asaju and Bose Odusanya in the women’s singles.

A determined Umeh believes he is ready to claim the title this year as he has been shaping up for the tournament with the sole aim of adding the title to his laurels. “I am ready anytime and I know it is going to be tough as most of the players want to wrestle some of us that have featured for the national team,” he boasted.

According to the Chairman of the OSTTA, Ayo Alabi, the record entries have added value to the tournament particularly as the tournament would be used as a ranking event for local-based players.

“We have concluded all arrangements as regards transportation and accommodation of all athletes and officials who are coming for the event. Hotels have been booked while buses will be provided to convey athletes and officials from their camps to the venue daily. We have also secured the services of security agencies to ensure orderliness and provide adequate security for all visitors and guests. I want to assure you that the competition will be the best-ever organized than the previous editions,” Alabi said.

“The last edition saw over 400 participants, which clearly shows the growing status of the tournament. I look forward to an exciting tournament while it will allow some upcoming players to showcase their talents,” he added.

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