Nigeria Makes Winning Start At ITTF African Junior Championships

The ITTF African Junior and Cadet Championships served off on Sunday, April 7th at the Sports Emporium in the Ghanaian capital Accra with top seeds Egypt, Nigeria and Algeria all recording victories on the opening day.

Nigeria beat Tunisia 3-1 in their opening match and followed the victory over the Tunisians with a 3-0 whitewash of hosts Ghana to all but book their spot in the knockout stage.

Solanke Azeez

Defending champions Egypt recorded 3-0 defeats over Sierra Leone and South Africa while Tunisia got their first win of the day by beating the Democratic Republic of Congo 3-1 to give themselves some hope of making the knockout round.

On the match-up for today Monday, April 8, South Africa will take on Sierra Leone; Tunisia battles Ghana, Nigeria slugs it out with Congo DRC and Libya will clash with Togo in the boys’ event.

Nineteen teams are competing at the tournament which serves as qualifiers for the 2019 ITTF World Junior Championships holding in Thailand in December with only two countries in the boys and girls’ events qualifying to represent Africa at the showpiece.

The best five players in the boys and girls cadet singles will form the African Cadet Team to the World Cadet Challenge in Poland later in the year.

Mati Taiwo

With Nigeria having already showed its class to emerge the best team at the ITTF World Junior Circuit which also held in Ghana and preceded the Junior Championships, President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) Ishaku Tikon says the country will aim to replicate its success at the tournament.

“We are prepared for it we are not expecting anything short of excellence. We played the Cadets and with what we have been playing so far, our target is nothing less than gold and where we have shortfall we fall back to silver. So at the end, there’s nothing less than excellence. That’s our target.”

Taiwo Mati and Azeez Solanke won the singles titles in the Cadet Boys and the Junior Boys’ categories while Solanke partnered with Jamiu Ayanwanle to take gold the Junior Boys’ doubles with Taiwo Mati picking up another gold medal in Cadet doubles with partner Emmanuel Augustine.