Nigerian table tennis kids, Azeez Solanke and Abayomi Animashaun are celebrating their historic feat of helping Nigeria pick tickets to the 2019 ITTF World Junior Championships holding in Thailand.
The boys’ team pulled off the feat, despite two years absence from the ITTF African Junior & Cadet Championships, as they pulled off heroic top displays in Accra, Ghana to reclaim Nigeria’s lost status in junior level.
The Nigerian team, which also included Augustine Emmanuel and Jamiu Ayanwale, were unbeaten throughout and, apart from their first group match against Tunisia, which they won 3-1, every other match ended 3-0 in their favour, up to the semifinal stage where they walloped Togo.
From 2016, at the World Junior Championship in Cape Town, South Africa, Nigeria has not competed at the global level, such that Solanke and Animashaun know the value of their qualification.
Animashaun said: “We are happy that we qualified and I must tell you that we are hoping to do well this time in Thailand.
“We are excited on this and we hope we can get the needed support from government to attend this tournament later in the year.”
Solanke was equally blowing hot, after Egypt joined Nigeria as second-best team from Africa to qualify in the boys’ event at Thailand 2019.
Solanke, who is Nigeria’s captain to the qualifiers in Accra, Ghana, said he will give everything he has to again take his country top against the Egyptians when both sides lock horns in the African final.
The youngster declared: “We have gone far to lose the final to Egypt and we want to leave Ghana with the giant trophy this weekend.
“I am sure the Egyptians have been watching our game and they are also afraid of us.
“The fact that we have not been playing in the competition for the last two years has given them hope that they can ride over every team.
“But they are going to meet their Waterloo in the final as we are ready for them.”