PRESS RELEASE: Kuti, Udoaka are new West African champions as Nigeria, Togo share titles

African Games medallists Matthew Kuti and Hope Udoaka showed class against experienced players after the Nigeria national champions emerged as the new West African champions at the 2024 ITTF West Africa Regional Championships, which ended in Lome, Togo, at the weekend.

Over 32 men and 29 women from Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, and host – Togo took part in four events (team and singles for men and women) at the three-day tournament organized to select teams that will represent the region at this year’s African Championships taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Despite not playing to his best in the team event, which allowed Togo to dethrone Nigeria as the regional champions, Kuti ensured he was flawless in the singles event when he took down some established players including, the former regional champion – Oba Oba Kizito of Cote d’Ivoire in the final.

Starting his campaign from the group where he only dropped a game against Benin Republic’s Kossi Akakpo, Kuti breezed into the knockout round to right the wrong that befell him in the team event.

From the round of 16, he took down Togo’s national champion Kokou Fanny, 3-0 to advance to the quarterfinal.

In the quarterfinals he edged out his compatriot – Matthew Fabunmi 4-2 to set up a semifinal clash against the player that defeated him in the team – Mawussi Agbetoglo of Togo. And with the mind of avenging the defeat, Kuti humbled the Togolese 4-2 to hit the final, where he was to face former champion Oba Oba Kizito of Cote d’Ivoire.

Like the true champion that he has been, Kuti mesmerized Kizito with a 4-1 bashing to be crowned the new regional champion and ensured that Nigeria held on to the title, which was won by Taiwo Mati in 2023.

Udoaka held sway in the women’s singles beating compatriot – Ajoke Ojomu 4-0 to claim the title.

In the team event, Nigerian ladies led by national champion Hope Udoaka dominated the team event without dropping a game and beat Ghana 3-0 in the final to retain the title. But the host team gave the fans something to cheer for with a 3-2 win over Nigeria to emerge as the regional powerhouse in the men’s team event.

Meanwhile, Madagascar reaffirmed its dominance of the East African region after claiming three of the four events at stake at the ITTF East Africa Regional Championships held in Kampala, Uganda.

41 men and 29 women from Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and host Uganda converged in Kampala to compete in four events (team and singles for men and women) and it was Madagascar-led by Antoine Razafinarivo that emerged as champions.

In the team event, the host – Uganda was at its best in the women’s categories with the trio of Jemimah Nakawala, Judith Nangonzi, and Shanitah Namaala defeating their Kenyan counterparts to emerge as champions.

In the men’s team event, Madagascar repeated their 2023 feat in Djibouti with a 3-0 convincing win over Uganda in the final.

They continued their reign in the singles as the duo of Razafinarivo and Hanitra Raharimanana claimed the titles ahead of their Ugandan counterparts.

Uganda’s Nangonzi wanted to repeat what they achieved in the women’s team with huge home support, but her efforts were thwarted by Raharimanana who claimed a 4-1 (9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5, 12-10) to lift the trophy.

And in the tension-soaked men’s singles final, Madagascan Razafinarivo was emphatic in his 4-1 (14-12, 11-5, 11-2, 12-10, 14-12) to end the tournament on a high note for the visiting Madagascan team. 

Udoaka - Current West African Champion

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