Nigeria’s junior table tennis national team captain, Azeez Solanke has disclosed that a deep level of motivation to pick a ticket to the World Junior Championship (WJC) motivated him and his colleagues to beat Tunisia in their first game at the African qualifiers in Accra, Ghana.
Although Solanke admitted that winning their first match in Accra was a massive boost to his side’s hopes of reaching the global level, he acknowledged the need to stay focused, and promised that they will not underrate any of their remaining opponents.
The victory over Tunisia boosted Nigeria’s chances of qualifying for the global championship billed for Thailand, and Solanke admitted they had the bragging rights heading into the last lap of the group matches.
On the final day, Nigeria went out to battle Ghana and DR Congo to determine the top two teams that will progress to the knockout stage, and Solanke said he was happy that the male squad started well.
Unlike the boys, Nigeria’s female side turned out to be the whipping team of the group, after they were walloped by Egypt in their first group match, but Solanke led the boys to a 3-1 win over Tunisia in Group Two.
It was a bright start for Nigeria’s boys at the ITTF Africa Junior and Cadet Championship, and Solanke admitted he was excited about the win over Tunisia, which he described a semi-final tie in his chase for a global slot.
Solanke, who earlier got gold in the junior singles at the Ghana Open last week, added: “We will not play to the gallery against any team.
“We will take every match seriously. There is no pushover in Africa again – with the quality of play display by every team in the tournament.
“I must admit that Tunisia is not a pushover team because they have experienced players in the team and they are a strong team in Africa.
“I believe the win against them has indeed given us an edge to top the group so that we will avoid meeting Egypt in the semifinal.”