A 10-man team that will represent Nigeria at the 2017 ITTF African Junior and Cadet Championships holding in Tunis has been unveiled by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF).
The players were selected based on their past and present records as well as several trials organised by the federation. The continental championship serves as qualifiers for the World Junior Championship in Italy later in the year and it serves off on April 9 to 15 in Tunis.
The boys’ team will be led by Lagos State champion, Azeez Solanke while others include Abayomi Animasahun, Amadi Umeh, Jamiu Ayanwale and Taiwo Mati.
Junior sensation, Tosin Oribamise will spearhead the girls’ team alongside Agnes Onoja, Rafiat Jimoh, Sukurat Aiyelabegan and Iyanuoluwa Falana.
Debutants like Ayanwale, Mati, Jimoh, Aiyelabegan and Falana will rely on the experience of the likes of Solanke, Animasahun, Umeh, Oribamise and Onoja at the championship which will also be used to select the African team for the World Cadet Challenge.
The Nigerian team is expected to compete in the team, doubles, mixed doubles and singles events of cadet, junior and U-21.
Also, Solanke and Oribamise will represent Nigeria in the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Qualifiers on April 16 to 17 at same venue in Tunis.
According to President of ITTF Africa, Khaled El-Salhy, every country is expected to present a boy and a girl for the YOG qualifiers with the finalists qualifying automatically for the games in Argentina come 2018.
“Africa has made it to the podium at YOG in Singapore 2010 and this time around we are hoping that we can get players and teams that will also return to the podium in 2018. For the qualifiers, the players will be drawn into groups in the first round with the top two players advancing to the second round of knockout. The finalists in the boys and girls event will automatically qualify for YOG. It is open to all African associations to take part in the qualification tournament and players should be U-18 next year in Argentina,” El-Salhy said.