Nigeria sure of men’s doubles gold, loses women event
NIGERIAN men’s doubles teams are sure of winning the gold and silver medals at the on-going International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Senior Championship after beating their Egyptian opponents in the semifinals.
In the first semi-final of the Men’s doubles event held late Tuesday night, the pair of Kazeem Makanjuola and Aruna Quadri (seeded fourth) defeated the top seeds, El-Sayed Lashin and Ahmed Ali Saleh (9-11, 1-8, 7-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9); the reverse coming soon after another decision had gone the way of Nigeria.
Ojo Onaolapo and Jide Ogidiolu, the number 11 seeds, ousted Khalid and Omar Assar, the number two seeds (7-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 5-11, 12-10, 11-2) in the second semifinal.
“I think we communicated a great deal during the match and we did not allow them to attack,” said Ojo Onaolapo. “I just told my partner not to be under pressure and ensure he put the ball on the table because I realized that they could not cope with my topspin play; we were very focused.”
Also speaking on their feat, Makanjuola Kazeem said, “I knew that with the way we played in the first game, if we were able to play like that we have the chance to beat the Egyptians.
“Before the competition, I had said I want to come and beat the Egyptians and thank God it has become a reality.”
While the men were guaranteed the gold and silver medals, the women team could not find their feet as they were humbled by Congo and Egypt in the semifinals.
Olaide Atinuke and Olufunke Oshonaike, the number six seeds, were the victims of a heart breaking seven games defeat against Congo Brazzaville’s Han Xing and Onyinyechi Nwachukwu, the number two seeds (6-11, 11-9, 13-15, 11-7, 11-3, 7-11, 13-11).
The defeat came after Cecilia Akpan and Offiong Edem, the number four seeds, had been beaten by Egypt’s Nadeen El-Dawlatly and Dina Meshref, the top seeds (11-3, 11-7, 7-11, 4-11, 12-10, 15-13).
“I think we played better after we won the first game; they started to raise their game and we lost concentration, after being two-nil ahead”, said Dina Meshref.
“We figured out that they were rushing us, we slowed down the game and this gave us an edge to win.
“We played with a great deal of top spin,” added Dina Meshref, who recalled, “At the 2011 All Africa Games we lost to them, so we were really motivated.”