Nigeria Qualify For ITTF World Junior Championships

Nigeria-male-Junior-table-tennis-teamDespite its inability to feature in the 2015 edition of the ITTF African Junior and Cadet Championship in Mauritius, Nigeria returns to the world stage at junior level after joining Egypt’s male team to secure a place in the 2016 ITTF World Junior Championships holding in Pretoria, South Africa.

Top seed, Egypt, continued their unbeaten run in the competition to seal their place at the World Juniors, after beating Congo Brazzaville in the semi-final to make it to the final at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Junior & Cadet Championship holding in Algiers.

Nigeria’s road to South Africa was not without efforts, as the West African giant had to fend off host – Algeria in the quarterfinal before setting up a semi-final clash against the highly-rated Tunisia.

Abayomi Animasahun
One of the team members, Abayomi Animasahun

As the last match on Day Two of the championship, the clash between Nigeria and Tunisia had all the suspense expected of such game, being the deciding match to determine the two first teams to qualify for the World Juniors.

Algeria Junior Open Champion, Tunisia’s Omar Ammous could not save his team from the hand of the Nigerians despite winning his match against Azeez Solanke with Amadi Omeh and Abayomi Animasahun recording emphatic victories over Saadaoui Mootezz and Oueslati Raed.

Omar Ammous tried to restore parity for the Tunisians but the skills of Nigeria’s Amadi Omeh was too much for him to handle as he fell 3-1 to concede an overall 3-1 defeat to Nigeria.

Nigeria and Egypt will battle for the Junior Boys’ team title while Tunisia will be aiming to complete the three World Championship continental slots when they confront Congo Brazzaville in the third place match on same day.

In the junior girls’ team, the semi-final pairing will see Egypt clashing against Angola while Nigeria will take on host, Algeria, in the second semi-final tie.

The winners of the semi-final matches will automatically qualify for the World Juniors while the winner of the third place will complete the continental three team slots.

Animasahun Continues Fine Form At ITTF Hopes Challenge In China

Abayomi-Animasahun-finishes-second-at-ITTF Nigeria’s 12 years old table tennis talent, Abayomi Animasahun, once again, put up a good display to finish second at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Hopes Challenge in Shanghai, China.

Animasahun defied all odds to win silver in the boys’ singles of the 2015 ITTF competition.

Animasahun has made good improvement on his performance at his first international competition at the Egypt Junior Open in June where he won the U-12 boys’ singles.

He also finished among the top eight at the China Junior Open last week. Some ITTF officials have described the Nigerian player as Africa’s prospect in the sport.

From the group stage, Animasahun stunned some of the highly-rated players from Netherlands and Thailand to settle for second place after losing to United States’ Nikhil Kumar in one of the three matches in the preliminary round. But for placing second, he joined the American boy to qualify for the semi-final stage.Animasahun

In the quarterfinal match, he continued his fine-form to beat New Zealand’s Nathan Xu 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5) to set up a semi-final tie against Belgium’s Adrian Rassefosse which he won. He finally set up a rematch against the American boy who had earlier defeated him in the group stage.

However, he lost again in the final match as the American won the match at 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 to be crowned the boys’ champion.

The performance of the young Nigerian has received praise from ITTF Education and Training Coordinator, Dejan Papic.

“Animasahun attracted a lot of attention, first he managed to outlast Nathan Xu of New Zealandin long top spin exchanges. The surprise victory made him hot, he moved better in the semi-final against Belgium’s Adrian Rassefosse and played with increased confidence. But in final, he ran out of steam and American Kumar played better in each game. It seemed the fact that Kumar being a left hander was one of the deciding factors,” Papic said.

In the girls’ singles, Egypt’s Sara Elhakem emerged winner after beating Germany’s Sophie Kee in the final. Nigeria’s representative Muibat Bello finished eighth at the competition that featured sixteen players.