The ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open 2017 will take place in Lagos from August 9-13, with some big table tennis stars set to take the floor.
Defending champion Benedek Olah of Finland is returning to the competition with hopes of retaining the title he won in 2016. His victory dance was a sight to behold.
But this year he faces Egypt’s Omar Assar, the man who won the three editions before but ceded his title when he failed to show up last year.
Olah also has home favourite Aruna Quadri to compete against.
“I must say that it is not going to be easy to retain the title this year with the presence of mighty Aruna Quadri who I think is a very talented player. So it is not going to be easy at all but I am hoping that the Lagos fans will support me again this year just like they did in 2016. Also, I am hoping that the right music will be played during the tournament that will put me in the right frame of mind for every game,” said Olah.
Assar has had a great time at the Lagos tournament and hopes to return to winning next month.
“I cannot wait to return to Lagos this year because last year, it was a bit tight for me as my club had two crucial matches to beat the drop in the French league. It was the same situation that affected Aruna Quadri as he could not also make it to the tournament last year. But this year, I cannot wait to come to Lagos again as I am eagerly looking forward to reclaim my title from anyone that is holding forth to it,” Assar said.
Both of them would have to get past in-form Quadri, who defeated Assar at the ITTF Africa Cup on July 3. The 2015 final of the Nigeria Open between Assar and Quadri was a huge affair which the Egyptian narrowly edged.
The Nigeria Open is one of a few sports events in the country where fans snap up tickets with little standing room available. Table tennis is a huge favourite of the Lagos crowd and the presence of these stars would make this year’s tournament another special one.
Which of the trio will set the Nigeria Open alight? Or will we see the emergence of a new star?
The official hashtag for the tournament is #NigeriaOpen2017