Nigeria’s top-rated table tennis star duo, veteran seven-time Olympians, Funke Oshonaike and Offiong Edem, have been knocked out of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Cup Championships.
Nigeria is hosting the annual ITTF Africa Cup in Lagos at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall inside the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere with representatives from some African countries in attendance.
In Round 16 of the women’s singles, Nigeria’s number one player Edem was overpowered by her home-based compatriot Fatimo Bello 4-3 in a thrilling encounter.
In the other game, 46-year-old Oshonaike was dispatched by a now familiar foe, 14-year-old Egyptian Hana Goda, 4-0 in a one-sided game (11-13, 6-11, 8- 11, 6-11).
Goda had previously beaten Oshonaike at the same level in the last championships held in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Winner Bello, however, said it was time for her to dominate the sport after being in the shadow of overseas-based players for some time.
“I think it’s my moment because I trained well for this tournament. Anything can happen in table tennis, so I’m not surprised I won the match.
“I respect her a lot because she plays table tennis well and of course she is based abroad, but nevertheless I have my own time to win after a lot of practice.
“I am now focused for the next match which is the semi-finals as there are still big stars left in the tournament like the Egyptian duo of Hana Goda and Dina Mashref.
“For my future, I would like to play abroad, I like the German league,” she said.
For Goda, she said that despite the victory she hadn’t played her best, adding that facing a seven-time Olympian was a nervous moment.
“I feel good winning, but I didn’t play my best. Maybe I’m a bit stressed, I hope to play better.
“I was also nervous while playing. Maybe in the next game I will have to make up my mind and be at my best because I still have a tough opponent in front of me, but I’m not worried, I only have to be at my best.
“Funke is an amazing player who has been to seven Olympics, so good luck to her,” she said.