The 2023 World Table Tennis Regional Qualifications began at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Thursday with Nigeria beating Guinea 3-0 to advance into the next round.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the competition is tagged “2022 Festival of Table Tennis” and holds from Thursday to May 28.
NAN reports that the Nigerian team, which has Akanbi Lookman, Erin Orok, Omega Amado, Azeez Solanke and Taiwo Mari, said they were excited about their first game.
“We look forward to playing in other matches, as this was a little easy as expected and we are very confident at the end to make a very big impact.
“For us it was like a warm-up match and we just used the opportunity to fine-tune some grey areas we have to work on,” Lookman said.
Another dominant figure in the competition who has already qualified to the round of 16, Ofiong Edem, expressed the confidence that she was going to perform credibly.
“I have worked hard for this and it feels good to be bàck since the COVID-19 Pandemic and lockdown.
“However, we are prepared to do well and like we used to excel in the tournament, I’m very confident that this year’s edition will be exceptional in Nigeria’s history,” Edem said.
Nigeria, Ghana and eight other nations have been confirmed for the Western Region qualifiers for the 2023 ITTF World Championships taking place in Lagos from Thursday to Saturday.
The 2023 World Championships will be the second time Africa will be hosting the ITTF World Championships as the city of Durban in South Africa was awarded the hosting right at the ITTF AGM in 2020.
Four events —- team (men and women) and singles (men and women) —- will feature at the tournament with Nigeria’s Rilwan Akanbi facing familiar foes in top players from Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
Two-time regional champion Fatimo Bello of Nigeria will also be hoping to retain the title she won in Abidjan and Lagos in 2019 and 2021.(NAN)