Nigeria misses out on promotion in Sweden

Nigeria’s quest for promotion to the Championship Division at the 2018 ITTF World Team Championships came to an abrupt end on Friday May 4 at the Halmstad Arena in Sweden.

As the only African team campaigning in  the second division, Nigeria’s good run from the group stage was ended by Slovakia who were defeating the African team second time in the competition.

After defeating Spain in the last 16, Nigeria were on their way to gain promotion to the elite division but they met a strong Slovakia who inflicted another defeat on them.

In the group match, it was Slovakia that confined Nigeria to second place in Group F and three days after beating the African side, the European again repeat same feat and this time around in a convincing style.

The trio of Aruna Quadri, Bode Abiodun and Olajide Omotayo were beaten by the Slovak’s trio of Lubomir Pistej, Samuel Novota and Wang Yang.

It was Pistej who first drew the first blood from Quadri with a 3-1 win and what would have restored parity for Nigeria was halted by Novota who beat Abiodun 3-2.

The youngest member of the Nigerian team, Omotayo wanted to put the team back into the game but the defensive style of Yang was too much for the youngster to cope.

With the 3-0 bashing of Nigeria, Slovakia will now face Hungary in the semifinal as the Hungarians defeated Italy 3-1.

Coach Jaromir Truksa of Slovakia described the victory over Nigeria as sweet adding that he decided to change the strategy against the West African side after Nigeria introduced Abiodun into the match.

“I am so happy that we were able to beat Nigeria twice in this competition. In our previous meetings, they have always been defeating us but this time around I won against them twice in same competition. This has really helped our confidence and I must also say that I must commend Pistej that despite the injury he copped he was able to beat Quadri who is one of the best players in the world,” the coach said.