Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) has named a 12-man team for the 2021 African Senior Championships taking place in Yaounde, Cameroon from September 1 to 7.
The tournament according to African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) serves as a qualification for the 2021 ITTF World Championship scheduled for November in Houston, United States.
National cadet champion Samuel Boboye is a surprise inclusion in the men’s team which has Quadri Aruna, Olajide Omotayo, Bode Abiodun, Azeez Solanke, and Taiwo Matti.
Also included in the women’s team are national U-21 champion Bukola Ajayi as well as Olympians Offiong Edem, Olufunke Oshonaike, and national champion Fatimo Bello.
For the first time in her career, Lagos State champion Bose Odusanya will be joining the national team while estranged Cecilia Otu-Akpan returns to the team after her last appearance for the national team at the 2019 African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
According to the chairman of the Caretaker Committee of NTTF, Ishaku Tikon, the inclusion of young players in the team became necessary following the possible exit of some older players in the teams in no distance time. “We want these young players to play alongside some of the established stars so that they can also garner some experience while playing with the stars. It is clear that some of our players will soon leave the stage and it is imperative for us to start building a new team made up of young players. We are aware that exposing these players early will help build their confidence as well as give them an edge when it comes to international events,” Tikon said.
Already over 20 African countries have been confirmed for the seven-day tournament with the top players and teams in the tournament qualifying for this year’s World Championships in the US.
Tournament Director and President of the Cameroon Table Tennis Association, Alfred Bagueka Assobo is confident that the country and the association are ready to host the event. “Cameroon had the opportunity to organise the Africa Women’s Handball Championships in June, this year at the same venue hosting the tournament. It was a very good experience in terms of handling the Covid-19 pandemic. We have learnt from that experience as a medical team of experienced doctors will be present in the venue all through the competition,” he said.