2016 ITTF World Junior Championships: African Teams Miss Out In Main Draw

It was a disappointing outing for African countries in the team event of the 2016 ITTF World Junior Championships as Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria and host – South Africa failed to advance to the main draw of the championships.

Nigeria was the first victim as their boys and girls teams failed to win any match in the group with the boys’ team losing 3-0 to Belgium and 3-1 to Egypt.

Also the girls’ team was unlucky to have lost 3-2 to Algeria and 3-0 to Brazil.

However, Egypt’s hope of playing in the main draw was dashed by Belgium and United States.

In the boys event, Egypt had earlier defeated Nigeria 3-1 only to lose to Belgium 3-0 in the second group to lose the sole slot in the group to Belgium.

For the girls’ team of Egypt, the team had an easy 3-0 win over Australia only to bow to United States 3-1 to surrender the sole qualification slot to United States.

Despite recording an emphatic victory over Nigeria, the Algerian girls’ team was pummelled 3-1 by Brazil in their second group match.

For the host – South African the boys and girls team showed some improvement but they were no match to their opponents to miss their places in the second round of the competition.

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The South African boys team led by Byrone Abrahams lost to New Zealand and Italy while their girls’ team inspired by Lekeasha Johnson lost to Spain and Canada.

The African teams will now have to fight for positioning in the classification matches holding on Thursday December 1.

Matches in the second round of the team event will begin as well as Japan and China will take to the table against some European giants like France, Germany and a host of others.

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ITTF World Cup Champion Hirano Aims for World Junior Championships Title in Cape Town

Japan’s Miu HIRANO who stunned the world to become the youngest ITTF World Cup Champion earlier this year, is back in action to aim for another Gold to add to her collection at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Table Tennis Championships in Cape Town from today, 30 Nov till 7 Dec 2016.

The Sun International 2016 World Junior Table Tennis Championships, which the most prestigious event for under-18 players, will see the world’s best junior players from 37 countries battling for Gold in seven categories: Boys’ Team, Girls’ Team, Boys’ Singles, Girls’ Singles, Boys’ Doubles, Girls’ Doubles & Mixed Doubles.

HIRANO, who heads the singles seeding, will be joined by her teammates including youngest Olympic table tennis medalist Mima Ito to challenge the Chinese team who claimed all 7 Gold medals on offer last year in France.

“Even though I won the Women’s World Cup, I have to come into this tournament with a fresh mind and put that victory in the past as the players here are also the best in the world,” stated the 16-year-old. “I will be playing in all four events (Girls’ Team, Girls’ Singles, Girls’ Doubles & Mixed Doubles) here in Cape Town and of course I hope to win all four Gold, it is going to be tough especially with the Chinese team who will be our biggest threat, but we will give in our best efforts!”

 2016 ITTF Women's World Cup Champion Miu Hirano looks to claim World Junior Championships Gold!

2016 ITTF Women’s World Cup Champion Miu Hirano looks to claim World Junior Championships Gold!

HIRANO’s compatriot Tomokazu HARIMOTO who had a breakthrough year in 2016 will lead the seeding in the boy’s category. The 13-year-old will have to fend off not only tough competition from his compatriots, but also Korea Republic’s CHO Seungmin and the Chinese team will be fighting hard to retain all their hard earned title from Vendee last year.

The local crowd will be cheering for South Africa’s number one Lekeasha JOHNSON who will be leading the South African contingent to challenge the world’s best players on home soil.

The 2016 World Junior Championships will kick off with the teams’ events on 30 November with the team Champions determined on 3 December, and the battle for the singles and doubles medals starting from 3 till 7 December 2016.

Wikki Tourists, FC IfeanyiUbah To Open 2016 NPFL Super4

Wikki Tourists and FC IfeanyiUbah have been drawn to play the opening game of the 2016/17 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) which flags off on December 7 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.

According to fixtures released by the League Management Company (LMC), the opening match will kick-off at 5pm with the second fixture between League champions, Rangers International and runners-up, Rivers United starting at 7pm.

FC IFEANYI UBAH
FC IFEANYI UBAH

Chief Operating Officer of LMC, Salihu Abubakar said “on Match Day 2, Rangers International will play Wikki Tourists in the first match starting at 5pm while Rivers United and FC IfeanyiUbah will take to the pitch for the second game of the day”.

The final match day will have the fixtures between Rivers United and Wikki Tourists at 5pm while FC IfeanyiUbah and Rangers International will play the closing game at 7pm.

Abubakar also noted that all the matches will be played under flood light.

“We are continuing with the growing popularity of night games in Enugu and essentially, we are also considering a fans-friendly time when businesses would have closed to encourage huge turnout for the matches”.

Wikki Tourists FC of Bauchi
Wikki Tourists FC of Bauchi

The NPFL Super4 is an annual pre-season tournament organised by the LMC for clubs participating in Confederation of African Football (CAF) Club competitions in the coming season. It enables the clubs condition their players for the competition as the tournament provides a platform for integration of new and retained players of the clubs as well as enable the Managers put to competitive test their pre-season trainings.

Rangers International and Rivers United that finished first and second in the NPFL will represent Nigeria in the CAF Champions League while third placed Wikki Tourists and Federation Cup champions, FC IfeanyiUbah will play in the CAF Confederation Cup.

Gold Cup: Odey Shoots MFM FC To Semi-Final

Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Football Club have qualified to the semi-final of the 4th edition of Gold Cup Pre-season Tournament after a 1-1 draw against Niger Tornadoes Football Club on Wednesday evening in Ijebu-Ode.

Both teams began the fascinating encounter on a remarkable note with sublime passing skills. MFM FC’s Ifeanyi Abara two minutes shot at goal was saved by Tornadoes goalkeeper, Edwin Nwankampa.

Yusuf Abiodun put the Minna-based team in front in the 3rd minute with a fine header off a cross from the right side of the field.

MFM FC had a great opportunity to draw level and in the 15th minute of the game when Abara was brought down in Tornadoes box but Sikiru Olatunbosun well taken spot was saved by Edwin.

The Olukoya Boys needed just a point to book a place in the semi-final of the ongoing pre-season tourney drew level in the 41st of proceedings courtesy of a fine finish from Stephen Odey.

The second 45 minutes of the match witnessed some flashes of brilliancy from the two Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) teams.

MFM Football Club
MFM Football Club

Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu’s lads poured forward in their numbers in the 86th minute of the match with series of shots on target but Nwankampa denied the Lagos-based team their goal opportunities with point blank saves.

Ilechukwu’s men claimed the second spot on the Gold Cup table with 7 points from four matches.

They will be up against Group A leaders, Remo Stars Football Club, on Friday evening at the Otunba Dipo Dina International Stadium.

Future Stars Ignite Cape Town For Table Tennis World Juniors

The much-anticipated 2016 ITTF World Junior Championships will begin on Wednesday November 30 in Cape Town with over 20 countries across the globe competing for honours at the eight-day tournament.

GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World – the largest entertainment destination of its kind in South Africa, will host the championships as teams begin hostilities in the first stage of team event for boys and girls.

Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria and host – South Africa will fly Africa’s flag with all eyes on table tennis powerhouses – China and Japan.

Egypt rules African Juniors in Algiers
Egypt rules African Juniors in Algiers

Unfortunately for Africa, Nigeria and Egypt have drawn in Group Two of the boys’ team event while Nigeria was also drawn in same group with Algeria in the girls’ team event. Host – South Africa will battle Italy and Canada in the boys, while the girls will confront Spain and Canada.

Being the 14th edition of the championships which started in 2003, Africa will be looking up to Nigeria and Egypt to spring surprises against some of the world’s best in Cape Town.

At the dinner organised for the participating teams by the Organising committee (OC), ITTF Executive Vice President, Patrick Gillmann lauded the OC must be commended for putting together the tournament with the fascinating venue. Ï must thank the OC and SATTB for their efforts to stage this championship particularly in such a wonderful venue and city of Cape Town. I am pleased to be part of this championship and I hope all players and teams will enjoy the tournament in Cape Town and South Africa,” he said.

Tosin Oribamishe
Tosin Oribamishe

From the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports, teams and players were urged to avail themselves the opportunity of enjoying the beautiful city of Cape Town with its tourism potential.

SATTB boss, Joe Carrim described the competition as another avenue to promote table tennis in South Africa as well as to engender friendship among players from various countries. “To the players, we are delighted to have you in Cape Town and we recognised your potential and the quality you possess. We are so excited of the love you have for the sport and just like late Nelson Mandela used to say, “Sports change lives” we hope that you can change the outlook of the sports by affecting lives positively with your gift as your roles change lives,” he added.

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He lauded ITTF for giving South Africa the opportunity to become a major player in international scene. “Hosting this competition is a stepping stone to becoming a major player in the sport and with this kind of environment that the competition is taking place, we believe we can profile table tennis to the whole world. I am also thanked the OC and our dedicated volunteers who have taken their valuable time to be part of this great success,” Carrim said.

The well-attended dinner was spiced up with melodious tune from young South African artist, Rees Adam who sang to the admiration of the teams.

The short dinner was also attended by the ITTF Deputy CEO, Glenn Tepper and Vice President, Administration, ITTF Africa, Olabanji Oladapo.

Rivers United Enter Third Phase of Pre-Season

Nigeria Professional Football League club, Rivers United have entered the third phase of their pre-season exercise ahead of the commencement of the 2016/17 football season.

The first phase commenced in Port Harcourt on November 1 with the ‘Pride of Rivers’ playing a handful of test matches against local sides while the coaches concentrated on bringing the players up to speed from a physical perspective.

On Sunday, November 20, United kicked off her second phase of pre-season in Abuja with priority put on physical work with technical manager, Stanley Eguma gradually introducing his philosophy to the new arrivals.

Rivers United, Dikko Cup, NIGERIA PRO FOOTBALL LEAGUE, NPFL

The club prosecuted four test games in Abuja, against City Strikers (4-1), Abuja Selected FC (2-0), Abuja Football College (2-1) and Adala Football Academy (4-0) winning all, scoring 12 and conceding two goals.

Next up for the Port Harcourt club is the 2016 Shehu Dikko Annual Football tournament in Kaduna.

The tournament runs from November 30-December 5 with matches slated to hold at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.

Wikki Tourists FC, FC Ifeanyiubah, Niger Tornadoes and Katsina United are four other NPFL clubs expected to take part in the pre-season tournament in Kaduna.

Eguma says the tournament in Kaduna will help him ascertain the level his charges have reached after a month a pre-season as well as sharpen their competitive edge ahead of the start of the new season.

“We have not really gotten there (to our desired level) but I am very impressed with the way the boys have responded to our methods.

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“I hope they continue on this path but I must state here that we cannot draw any conclusions on anything at this stage of the season.

“I however know that we have very good crop of players and I hope we can create a good team out of what we have,” Eguma told the club’s official website, http://www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.

Rivers United will represent Nigeria in the 2017 Caf Champions League.

AWCON: Super Falcons To Tackle Cameroon In The finals

Champions Nigeria will confront host nation Cameroon in the final of the 10th Women Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday.

Cameroon got the better of Ghana in the first semi final at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium on Tuesday, with a second half strike, and Nigeria did same against the Banyana Banyana of South Africa at the Stade Omnisports Limbe in the evening.

Top scorer at the last edition of the competition in Namibia, Desire Oparanozie scored her second of the tournament with a bullet shot from a free kick at the edge of the box, to send the Super Falcons into the final for the eighth time in the history of the competition.

Two shots by midfielder Ngozi Okobi in the first half failed to trouble the Banyana goalie, and in the 33rd minute, Oparanozie blasted over from a free kick in a good position, when it appeared easier to open the scoring.

She would make up for that eight minutes into the second half. From a similar position, she opted for a rocket, which took a deflection before flying past Andile Dlamini.

Right back Ugo Njoku bagged a yellow card for time wasting with 11 minutes to go, and nearly scored an own goal four minutes later as she headed a Banyana free kick backwards and goalkeeper Alaba Jonathan had to be alert.

As happened against the Ghanaians in the group phase, Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala was denied what appeared a clear penalty with the clock winding down, but the Falcons held on and will travel to Yaounde for Saturday’s championship match.

For the second successive tournament, it would be Nigeria against Cameroon in the final. At the last edition, the Super Falcons defeated the neighbours to the east 2-0 in Windhoek to emerge champions.’

Super Falcons photo credit: @thenff
Super Falcons
photo credit: @thenff

In more ways than one, it would appear that Nigeria and Cameroon are presently the strongest nations in women football in Africa. Both represented the continent at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Canada, where the Indomitable Lionesses reached the Round of 16 as the Falcons exited at group stage.

The Lionesses would have part of the bragging rights going into Saturday’s final, based on that feat in Canada, and also for the fact that they defeated the Falcons in the semi finals at the women’s football tournament of last year’s All-Africa Games in Brazzaville.

If you add the expected capacity crowd that would be cheering the Lionesses on, an explosive match is at hand to determine the current best team in Africa at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.