Nigeria’s junior boys and girls’ teams are one match away respectively of securing their places in the 2016 ITTF World Junior Championship after beating host – Algeria in the quarterfinal match of the team event at the ongoing ITTF African Junior & Cadet Championship in Algiers.
In the boys quarterfinal tie, the trio of Amadi Omeh, Azeez Solanke and Abayomi Animashaun were not intimidated by the home crowd in their 3-0 bashing of Algeria.
The match which served as the decider to determine the team that will qualify for the semifinal round of the competition became a one-sided encounter with Nigeria dominating from the start to the end.
It was Amadi Omeh who started the rout with 3-0 pounding of Algeria’s Islem Tifoura while Azeez Solanke increased the lead to 2-0 with another 3-0 pummeling of Omar Annane.
Not ready to give the host nation any breathing space, Abayomi Animashaun who despite his age has challenged some of the top players in the competition started well against Salim Amokrane with a 2-0 lead but motivation from the fans boosted the confidence of the Algerian teenager who won the third game. In order to avert a comeback, Animasahun did not look back in the fourth game to end the encounter at 3-1 to give Nigeria an emphatic 3-0 win.
With this win, Nigeria has joined the trio of Tunisia, Egypt and Congo Brazzaville in the semifinal stage of the championship.
For the semifinal pairing, Nigeria will battle against Tunisia while Egypt will face Congo Brazzaville for places in the final.
The girls’ team made up of Ajoke Ojomu, Esther Oribamise and Nimota Aregbesola had to dig deep to overcome their Tunisian counterparts 3-2 to berth in the last four of the tournament.
For the semifinal pairing which will determine the eventual qualification for the World Junior Championship, Nigeria girls will battle the home team – Algeria for a place in the final.
A confident Animashaun said they cannot afford to miss out from the bigger event holding on Africa soil in November.
“We were never considered as favourite to qualify because we could not come to the 2015 edition held in Mauritius and we were not seeded for the tournament but we knew we had a battle to fight in Algiers.
“In the group match against Egypt we fought well but we lost 3-1 and we finished second in the group. After knowing that we were going to face Algeria, we talked to ourselves that we should not be intimidated by the crowd and this was what really worked for us.
Now, we are just a match away from qualifying for the World Junior Championship and we are not going to relax and take each match as they come. The Tunisians are nit pushovers and we will ensure our coming to Algiers is fruitful,” the assistant captain of the team said.