National champion Rilwan Akanbi and Fatimo Bello players emerged champions at the three-day trials organised to select players that will represent Nigeria at the forthcoming ITTF tournaments taking place in in Lagos from between May 19 and 28.
Some 23 players made up of 13 men and 12 women started the campaigns on Monday with Akanbi dominating the men’s category while Bello who remains the only unbeaten player toppled other players to rule the women’s division.
Akanbi led four others – Taiwo Mati, Amadi Omeh, Azeez Solanke, and Edet Orok while Jamiu Ayanwale will stand as reserve for the men’s squad.
Bello will lead four other players in the female category, and she will be joined by Tosin Oribamise, Ajoke Ojomu, Bose Odusanya and Aminat Fashola and they are expected to form the Team Nigeria squad for the Western Region World Championships qualification and African club Championships while four of them will join their foreign counterparts to compete in the ITTF Africa Cup on May 26 to 28 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.
NTTF President Ishaku Tikon noted that the trial threw up surprises especially in the men’s division with Akanbi beating the likes of Mati and Solanke to the top prize while the only defeat suffered by Akanbi was against Omeh on the first day of the three-day trial.
“I am particularly impressed with the performance of the men because they gave a good account of themselves that even some of them that came in from Europe could not make the squad and this goes to show that the future is bright for us when it comes to the men’s division,” Tikon said. “ I am particularly impressed with Akanbi who defied all odds to upstage some established players and this is a sign of what to expect when the tournaments start next month.”