Nigerians can break the jinx this year, says Toriola
Africa’s most decorated player, Segun Toriola, believes Nigerian players can break the jinx of not winning the ITTF Premier Lotto Nigeria Open title this year.
Twice Nigerian players have made it to the final of the ITTF Premier Lotto Nigeria Open but they have not been able to clinch the title, and with just a few days to the serve off of the 2016 edition, former African champion, Segun Toriola, believes the title will not be beyond the reach of Nigerian players.
Toriola, a finalist at the 2013 edition of the competition, said he is optimistic that Nigerian players have the wherewithal to claim the laurel, adding that three-time winner, Egypt’s Omar Assar, has been ‘extra-ordinarily lucky’ to have claimed the titles ahead of the local players.
“I think Nigerian players have always been capable of winning the title in all the three editions of the competition. It was just that we were unlucky not to have won the title having made it to the final twice. I played the final in 2013 and Aruna Quadri made it to the final in 2015. Apart from this, Nigerian players have always been making it to the semifinal stage.
“I believe we can win the title this year because most of the foreign-based players have been doing very well in their various clubs and the skills and talents of the local players cannot be underestimated,” he said.
The former Commonwealth champion, who will be attending his seventh Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, is thrilled with the turnout of players, particularly participants from Europe, saying this would help raise the standard of the sport in Nigeria.
“I believe the presence of players from across the globe, particularly the ones from Europe, will surely help our players who have not been playing against Europeans. The eyes of the world are now on Nigeria with the giant stride the country has made in the last four years by hosting such quality competition. I am hopeful that our players will gain from taking part in the tournament and the profile of the sport will continue to improve in the country,” Toriola added.