Nigerian youngster Mati Taiwo secured a stunning win in his Round of 64 clash at the ongoing 2023 ITTF World Championship in Durban, South Africa, making him the only remaining Nigerian in the competition after veteran Aruna Quadri crashed out.
Based in Portugal, Taiwo was pitted against Hong Kong player Lam Siu Hang, a player ranked lower than him in the world rankings. The 18-year-old Nigerian trailed 2-3 before rallying to win two games and claim an impressive 4-3 win.
The teenager revealed that he kept a positive mindset throughout the game despite falling behind and was able to fight back and win the game.
“Honestly, I do not know what to say, I am just speechless. It is my first time playing in the World Championships and it is like a dream come true for me to qualify for the round of 32. This win is even sweeter for me because it is held in Africa. Throughout the game, I kept telling myself not to give up. Even when I was trailing 2-3, I told myself that I must play better and gain momentum to win, ” Mati said after the match.
” This win means a lot to me. It is definitely the highlight of my career so far, qualifying for the round of 32 in front of so many supporters and fans.”
The youngster is in his debut campaign in the competition and is one of three Africans remaining in the competition alongside African champion Omar Assar and Africa women’s number one Dina Meshref.
On the same day, Nigerian and African legend Aruna Quadri bowed out in the Round of 32 when he lost 4-3 to Spain’s Alvaro Robles after a hard-fought battle between the pair. Like Quadri, young Egyptian star Hana Goda also crashed out. The 15-year-old lost 4-1 to Lin Yu-Jhun and was eliminated from the competition.