Nigeria will have no representatives in the team table tennis event at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo after the men’s team were ousted by Poland in the round of 32 at the 2020 World Team Olympic Qualifying tournament in Gondomar, Portugal.
The Polish women’s team had also accounted for Nigeria’s women’s team with a 3-0 whitewash on Wednesday and their men followed it up with a nailbiting 3-2 over the Nigerian men.
A real upset according to status, Poland occupied the no.23 seed position, Nigeria, the no.14 seeds also paraded Africa’s top-ranked player world no. 18 Aruna Quadri and seven-time Olympian Segun Toriola.
The day started with Samuel Kulczycki and Marek Badowski beating veteran Segun Toriola and partner Olajide Omotayo 3-1 (11-9, 12-10, 9-11, 11-2) to win the doubles and give Poland an early lead.
Next came Jakub Dyjas versus Quadri Aruna.
World no. 71 Jakub Dyjas beat world no.18, Quadri Aruna, in splendid fashion, needing just the four games for a 3-1 (11-7, 10-12, 13-11, 11-5) win.
Dyjas showcased his immense speed of thought and play, pushing Aruna to make errors.
Notably, the long forehand of Aruna, bat finishing high above his head consistently, makes his forehand recovery long. In contrast, Dyjas’ returns and shots happened much quicker as well as more compact – assuring him control over proceedings.
However, just when the story seemed to be set in motion, the Nigerian team awoke to the sound of their fans – with a roar, Olajide Omotayo beat Marek Badowski (9-11, 17-15, 11-6, 11-7), Quadri Aruna overcame Samuel Kulczycki (11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5), to bring the overall match score to 2-2.
In the decider, it was the turn of Olympian Segun Toriola to maintain the momentum, fighting for the chance of an unprecedented eighth appearance at the Olympic Games. The task was much tougher than he expected.
Jakub Dyjas was in no mood to let his hard work go to waste, as he showed calm and mental steel at the table to beat the veteran (10-12, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8). In many ways, Dyjas was the hero for Poland and the villian for Nigeria.