Nine years after featuring in the bi-annual ITTF Team World Cup, Nigeria will be making a return to the prestigious tournament as Aruna Quadri leads a five-man Team Nigeria to the 2019 edition holding in Tokyo, Japan on November 6 to 10.
Nigeria’s last appearance in the tournament was in 2010 in United Arab Emirates (UAE) where the team became the first African team to win the Intercontinental Cup and based on their triumph at the 2018 African Championship in Mauritius, the team qualified as Africa’s men representative at the Tokyo tournament which also serves as test event for Olympic Games.
In the confirmed list of players made available to newsmen, Quadri who is at present in Bremen competing for a place in the main draw of the ITTF World Tour tagged German Open, will be among the top rated players leading their country campaign to the championship. Also in the Team Nigeria list are Segun Toriola, Bode Abiodun, Olajide Omotayo and Azeez Solanke.
Egypt as the African women champion will join Nigeria at the Tokyo tournament and the Egyptian side will be led by African women singles champion – Dina Meshref who recently moved to German Bundesliga to sharpen her skills against some of the world best ahead of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
According to ITTF, the tournament features teams of the standard of Olympic Games with China, Germany and host – Japan considered as favourites.
Team China will be led by the current World no.1, 2, 3 and 4, the men’s team is comprised of Xu Xin, Fan Zhendong, Ma Long and Lin Gaoyuan alongside 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open winner Liang Jingkun.
The European contingent is well represented at the World Cup, and while Germany will only have their men’s team as qualified contestants, they are sure to be more than a handful for everyone. German legend Timo Boll with a huge boost of confidence in the quest for gold will have close friends Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Patrick Franziska, Ruwen Filus and Ricardo Walther in the team.
The Japanese teams will have a strong list of names competing at home with in-form Tomokazu Harimoto – 2019 ITTF World Tour Bulgaria Open winner – will be the perfect speed demon to attack opponents while his teammates Maharu Yoshimura and Koki Niwa adjust the pace of the match to their liking. There will also be enough experience to complete the youthful exuberance with Jun Mizutani and Takuya Jin completing the line-up.