2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open: India’s Ghosh eyes international comeback in Lagos

2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open: India’s Ghosh eyes international comeback in Lagos

Soumyajit Ghosh

Soumyajit Ghosh has been out of action for more than a year and the Indian star is heading to Lagos for the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open with the sole aim of reclaiming his place in the Indian national team.

The Indian star was Aruna Quadri’s nemesis at the 2015 World Championship in China when he defeated the Nigerian in the first round of the men’s singles and also Ghosh’s records as the youngest Indian player to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics and the youngest Indian national champion at 19 remain intact.

The 2017 Chile Open champion is really eager to get back to international scene and he hopes to use the Nigeria Open to regain his confidence on table.

“I am very happy to participate in the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open, as I have heard a lot about the tournament but never got an opportunity and finally this time I will be part of it in Lagos,” he said.

Narrating what he was told about Nigeria Open, Soumyajit Ghosh said: “I heard from other friends that it is a good tournament to play and crowd is very expressive there. My expectation from myself would be just play my best as I am coming back to the game after a long time absent from the international circuit.”

“Right now I just want to start the matches from there and then later I can set some targets. Now I am prepared to play some international games with high quality players,” he added.

The 26-year-old admitted that Nigeria being a force to reckon with in Commonwealth and with rich table tennis tradition would surely be a good place to launch his comeback. “This will be my first visit to Africa and Nigeria is great now in table tennis and how they have improved is remarkable to see.”

The Indian star admitted that homeboy – Aruan Quadri remains the only threat to other top players. “I know Aruna is playing well at present but we will see what will happen in Lagos,” he added.


15 countries confirm for 2019 ITTF Africa Cup

2019 ITTF African Cup

Aruna Quadri in Budapest

In less than one week, the best players from 15 African countries will converge in Lagos for the 2019 ITTF Africa Cup, which serves off on August 3 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri and Egypt’s Dina Meshref are defending champions of the tournament and they are expected to battle against other players for their places in the 2019 ITTF World Cups.

Aside host – Nigeria, countries expected in Lagos for the three-day championship include Algeria, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DRC, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia.

Also, since establishing himself as Algeria’s best male player, Sami Kherouf has been making frantic efforts to halt the dominance of Aruna Quadri and Egypt’s Omar Assar (EGY) in Africa. But all his efforts have not materialised.

Again, the Algerian star will be heading to Lagos, in his bid to fulfill his dream of becoming the first Algerian to conquer the continent.

As a realist, Sami Kherouf admitted that it will take an extra-ordinary performance to rule the continent.

“At present, we are training together as team in Algiers with the aim of using the Africa Cup in Lagos as a good preparation for the All African Games,” he said.

On the possibility of dethroning the defending champion – Aruna Quadri, he said: “To win the title is super hard with the presence of the best African players like Omar Assar and Aruna Quadri as well as other good players too.

“I must admit that to win the title will require a lot of work and at the moment it seems hard to win. It is hard because you have to compete with top players, who ply their trade in big leagues and who devote most of their time to the game as their main job,” he added.

Sami Kherouf cannot wait to come to Nigeria. “I cannot wait to come to Nigeria because I have never visited the country before. I know it is country that loves sport and especially table tennis,” the Algerian number one star said.

In his modest ambition, Sami Kherouf said: “I am aiming to win a bronze medal and I would have loved to become the first Algerian to qualify for the World Cup but it is very hard for everyone except Omar Assar and Aruna Quadri.”

2019 ITTF Africa Cup: Teenage sensation Mati makes Team Nigeria list

2019 ITTF African Cup

Mati Taiwo

African cadet champion, Taiwo Mati is the surprise inclusion in Team Nigeria for the 2019 ITTF Africa Cup serves off on August 3 to 5 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

Mati, who also emerged as the best male player at the All African Games trials was at the weekend crowned the national U-21 champion, will be making his senior international debut at the continental showpiece which is the qualifying tournament for the 2019 ITTF World Cups.

The five-man team will be led by African champion Aruna Quadri while others are Bode Abiodun, Segun Toriola and Olajide Omotayo.

According to the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), the inclusion of Mati in the team became necessary in order to expose the youngster to international competition tournament at senior level.

The Ondo State-born southpaw believes he has the capacity to step into the shoes of Aruna Quadri, whom he described as a role model to young players in the country.

Quadri as the defending champion of the ITTF Africa Cup will be aiming to retain his title amidst the array of stars coming to Lagos for the three-day tournament. Nigeria as host is expected to present four male and four female players while other participating nations will registered two male and two male for the tournament.

Winners in the men and women singles event will represent Africa at the ITTF Men and Women World Cups in China later in the year.

For the female team, Edem Offiong who is the highest ranked Nigeria in the world will lead the team. Others are Germany-based Olufunke Oshonaike, Ajoke Ojomu while national female champion, Fatimo Bello completed the four-man list for women.

Also African women champion, Egypt’s Dina Meshref has expressed her desire to hold on to the title. “I will just try to give my best; I am trying to prepare thoroughly for the competition. Of course it won’t be easy in Lagos. I expect all players to be very well prepared for the event, especially that it’s a few days prior to another important event. I consider all players competing in the event as my potential rivals and strong competitors. It’s actually very exciting to compete in Lagos, as there are always lots of spectators and fans who really admire the sport, it brings the best out of players,” she said.

Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open: Players relish Lagos experience at Nigeria Open

Players relish Lagos experience at Nigeria Open

Molade Okoye Thomas Indoor Sport Hall, Teslim Balogun Stadium Surulele, Lagos

Lagos has registered itself among the cities that is fans’ friendly. The city has now been regarded as the ‘Mecca of table tennis in Africa’ considering its huge fans presence whenever it hosts the annual Seamaster ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open.

A tournament which started as a pilot competition in 2013 has now grown to become one of the pioneer tournaments in the ITTF Challenge Plus.

From the few numbers of countries that featured in the 2014 edition, hundreds of players from 32 national associations are expected to converge in the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria – Lagos for the five-day tournament.

Among the players that had graced the tournament and are still eager to be part of its are Antoine Hachard of France, Mudit Dani of India and Sarah De Nutte of Luxembourg.

For Mudit Dani, the excitement in Lagos is incomparable.

“The crowd at the ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open was the biggest highlight and difference between this event and other ones. Everyone was super energetic. Not only did they support Nigerian players, but it seemed like they came to support the game. It was a truly special feeling to play in Lagos. The crowds, their energy, the atmosphere is electric. It is like no other tournament I have played anywhere in the world and this is the feeling shared by many players who I have spoken to,” said the young Indian.

For Sarah De Nutte, the energy display by the Lagos fans has been awesome. “The atmosphere in Lagos is great; there are not many tournaments with that many spectators like in Lagos. I think it’s so nice to play there because the crowd is always fun and excited to see some table tennis matches and are always cheering the players, no matter where they are from,” said Sarah De Nutte.

Despite confirming his absence at this year’s tournament, Antoine Hachard would forever cherish every moment he spent in Lagos in 2018 as a finalist. “The atmosphere in Lagos was crazy, people are screaming for you, which are unusual and amazing. It is a special atmosphere as the fans are so involved and they want you (player) to fight until the end,” said the Frenchman.

Apart from the fans’ engagement in the sport, the organisations coupled with the Lagos hospitality were the high points for the visitors.

From Mudit Dani, “It is a very well organised event. The hotel and food are good, the hall is nice and always filled with energetic crowds and players are well cared for in terms of transport, lounge and security among others. My experience at the 2018 Nigeria Open was great! The crowd, playing conditions and hospitality were all perfect. Being my first ever senior pro tour event made it even more special. If I had to put it briefly, I hope to be back again this year because it was one of the most memorable weeks of my life,” said Mudit Dani.

African Games Justifies

Ernest Mawutor Quarcoo
Enerst Mawutor Quarcoo - Winner of the Chairmans Cup (Photo - Lord Kinful)

The 12th African Games will take place from 19th to 31st August 2019 in Rabat, Morocco. The African Games serves as a platform for athletes in Africa to compete and win laurels. In readiness towards the African Games, the Ghana Table Tennis Association has started a justify your inclusion tournament of top Table Tennis players in the country. 

The justifies, are in three stages, the group stage, which commenced on 3rd and concluded on 4th July 2019, the round robin stage, which commences from the 10th to 12th of July 2019 and the final stage which would commence from 17th to 18th July 2019.

3rd July saw thirty two male and eighteen female players parade the Hathiramani sports hall for what turned out to be a festival of Table Tennis. Our spot light was on the junior players who participated in the World and African Junior Cadets competition held in the Trust Emporium, in Accra Ghana.

Emmanuel Ofori - National Under 21 Champion (Photo Lord Kinful)

The national under 21 champion, Emmanuel Ofori was one of the junior players who qualified from the group stages after two days of justifies. He played arguable the point of the justifies thus far when, he dispatched Enerst Mawutor Quarcoo by three games to one (3 : 1), in a match which was characterized by long rallies from both players.

Although both players have qualified for the second stage of the competition, the contest was fierce since the bragging right of who tops the group was ups for grabs.

Matilda Fodu (Photo Lord Kinful)

At the female side of the draw was Matilda Fodu, who also took part in the ITTF World and African Juniors Championships. A heavy underdog, who found herself in a group filled with senior players.

Possessed with the desire to achieve Matilda qualified out of her group as the third best player. The highlight  of her performance was when she defeated Linda Anoh a seasoned contender and a player who has traveled with the national team on several occasion by three games to one (3:1), in a keenly contested match.

The second stage of the justifiers resumes on 10th – July 2019 and concludes on the 12th – July 2019. It’s a round robin stage, which includes the top 16 male and top 9 female players in the country.

Will the status quo remain? Or we are going to see a new set of players don the national colors. The current male national team players who represented Ghana in the Common Wealth Games, made up of Bernad Joe-Sam, Derek Abrefa, Felix Lartey and Emmanuel Asante and the female national team players made of Celia Baah Danso and Cynthia Kwabi have all qualified out of the group stage.

Felix Lartey
Felix Lartey - Member of the National Team (Photo Lord Kinful)

Felix Lartey, has represented Ghana at the international stage, for more than a decade. He is in fine form and still has the hunger to achieve and to don the national colors. A member of the team which won bronze medal in the last African Games hosted in the Congo. The highlight of Felix’s performance was when he defeated his long time friend and team mate Derek Abrefa by three games to zero (3:0) in a contest which saw both players qualify for the next stage of the justifies.

Emmanuel Asante
Emmanuel Asante - Member of the National Team (Photo Lord Kinful)

Emmanuel Asante is relatively new addition to the national team. He was part of the contingent which represented Ghana in the Common Wealth Games held in Gold Coast Australia. He is in the form of his life and determined to maintain his position in the national team. The highlight of his performance was when he defeated Bernard Joe-Sam, in a thriller which saw him win by three games to one (3:1). This performance saw him qualify on top of this group with Bernard coming in second.

Join us at the Hathiramani sports hall on 10th to 12th of July 2019 for the second round of the justifies. The games begins at 10:00 am don’t be late for there are limited seats available.