by Simon Daish
Nigeria didn’t drop a single game on day two of the tournament, Tuesday 25th October, registering three perfect victories in a row against Mauritius (Group B), South Africa (quarter-finals) and Algeria (semi-final) providing the team of Quadri Aruna, Segun Toriola and Olajide Omotayo with a huge confidence boost heading into day three’s final.
The quarter-finals tie with South Africa didn’t take long to see Nigeria progress; Toriola gave the Nigerians the lead with a straight games win against Kurt Lingeveldt (RSA) in the opener, before Aruna (NGR) and Omotayo (NGR) added respective wins over Terrence Mathhole (RSA) and Keegan Lingeveldt (RSA).
Next up for Nigeria was a last four fixture with Algeria, who themselves had seen off Togo in the previous round but again the Nigerian team encountered little trouble on the table. Aruna’s victory over Naim Karali (ALG) was followed by Toriola and Omotayo also winning their matches against Sami Kherouf (ALG) and Mohamed Lazazi (ALG), to put Nigeria through to the final round.
Following the day’s play Nigerian competitor Segun Toriola gave his thoughts on his team taking on Egypt for the crown:
“I think it is going to be a 50-50 match because they (Egypt) are nervous having seen what Quadri Aruna did at the Rio Olympic Games, because he has been playing with a lot of confidence and this is very important. We are ready for them and it promises to be an exciting match” – Segun Toriola (Nigeria).
Defending champions Egypt sealed their place in the final with a strong 3-0 showing against last year’s bronze medallists Congo Brazzaville, but one of Egypt’s key players Omar Assar insists that he and his teammates must approach the tie with Nigeria with caution:
“We knew from the start of the competition that we would meet Nigeria in the final and so we have prepared well for them” said Assar. “The Nigerian team is a very strong side with the presence of Segun Toriola and Quadri Aruna who have both played very well lately… The Nigerian side never gives up and they always fight until the end.”