Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open, Wahid Oshodi has stated that Nigerian table tennis legends Funke Oshonaike and Segun Toriola still have what it takes to compete for Nigeria ahead of the young players coming through.
Despite Nigeria’s female team which included the likes of Oribamise Tosin, Offiong Edem, Aregbesola Nimotalai etc recording a bronze medal podium finish at the just concluded Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship in India, Oshodi remains adamant that the old guards can still compete at the top level with the young ones needing more experience and exposure to come through.
“The Commonwealth Championship is a lesser tournament as far as I’m concerned so it’s not one I’ll use to assess our players and you can’t assess players based on one tournament. As we speak, our performance at the tournament is not very commendable. We had one female player in all the quarterfinals; that’s not good enough a performance for us to talk about and I don’t see how that gets you straight into the national team,” the immediate past Nigeria Table Tennis Federation President said.
“Just to make the point again, Funke Oshonaike and Segun Toriola especially based on their knowledge of the game we still don’t have players to dethrone them yet. As far as I’m concerned, they will still be in the national team for a year or two unless they retire.
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“Segun’s experience is one of the greatest the world has ever seen and we need his experience. The younger players need to be brought through,” he added.
In the female category, “we have Offiong Edem super player, super performer. I don’t think anybody else is on that level. However for Funke Oshonaike, her experience will count.
“I watch games all over the world and she is not in the class of all these (young) players you’re talking about. Yes, they’re young and good but they need the experience and exposure that’s why going to India is good. Even when you get beaten, I don’t want the press concentrating on that because you need to lose to win.
“I expect one or two of them to make the All Africa Games team for the exposure and I don’t expect them to win the women’s singles. So let’s concentrate on the Africa Cup as that would be a better way to assess them but kudos to them in the women’s team they did well but overall it was a bit of a shaky performance.”