2017 ITTF African Junior Championships: Team Nigeria participation in doubt

There are strong indications that the Nigerian contingent to the 2017 ITTF African Junior Championship (AJC) may not be part of the championship over paucity of funds.

It was learnt that the Ministry of Youth and Sports has approved funds for the trip but the late release of the funds may halt the trip for the 10-man team.

With less than seven days to the tournament which serves off on April 9 in Tunis, the flight booking for the trip is yet to the finalised while all other logistics are yet to the concluded for the trip.

The tournament is supposed to help to groom players for the senior national team as Africa’s powerhouses in table tennis – Nigeria and Egypt will use the competition to renew their rivalry at junior level in Tunis.

Already, the ITTF Competition Manager for the tournament, Mounir Bessah has confirmed Nigeria and other countries for the competitions which serve as continental qualification for World Junior Championship holding later in the year in Italy.

Bessah said that beside Nigeria, other countries that had confirmed their participation include defending champion, Egypt, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritius, Djibouti, South Africa and host – Tunisia.

Also, the tournament will host the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Qualifiers and the President of ITTF Africa, Khaled El-Salhy said that every team in Africa are expected to compete for places in the YOG qualifiers which will come up after the AJC.

Agnes Onoja at the Team Event Round 3 at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Table Tennis Championships. 30 Nov – 7 Dec 2016, Cape Town (RSA)

“Africa made the podium at the maiden Youth Olympic Games in Singapore 2010. Each African Association is entitled to register one boy and one girl for the qualifiers. The players will be drawn into groups in the first round with the top two players advancing to the second round.

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.