Aruna Quadri and Bode Abiodun are edging closer to becoming the first Africans to play in the semifinal stage of the lucrative European Table Tennis Union (ETTU)-organised Champions League after Portugal’s Sporting Club defeated French champion – Stella Sport La Romagne 3:1 in the first leg of the quarterfinal tie.
Sporting, the first Portuguese team to feature and make it to the quarterfinal of the Champions League, is one match away from making history in Europe.
With Bode Abiodun sitting out during the encounter, it was Aruna Quadri who sealed the win for the Portuguese team in the epic encounter played at the weekend in Lisbon, Portugal.
Inspired by the presence of their fans coupled with the inspiration from Captain Joao Monteiro, Sporting played their hearts out to daze the star-studded French champions.
Relying on the trio of Monteiro, Quadri and Diogo Carvalho that ensured their qualification to the last eight against the French team with two Chinese stars – Shihao Wei and Chen Tian Yuan as well as Frenchman Brice Olivier.
As a key player for Sporting, Quadri started the encounter against southpaw Shihao Wei. But a narrow loss to the Chinese gave the visitors a 1-0 lead after the Nigerian lost 3-1 to Wei in the first match.
Captain Monteiro restored parity with a convincing 3-1 (11:7, 11:8, 8:11, 11:8) win over ChenTian Yuan.
Buoyed by Monteiro’s win, Diogo Carvalho played with his heart as the venue was thrown into frenzy with another 3-1 (11:4, 11:8, 6:11, 11:9) win over Brice Olivier to give Sporting, a 2-1 lead.
The hope of Lisbon was now on Quadri in the fourth match and motivated by the victories of his teammates, the Nigerian outclassed Chen Tian Yuan with a 3-0 (14:12, 11:9, 11:7) rout of the Chinese to the admiration of the home fans.
The second leg of the quarterfinal tie holds in France on February 9, in the home of Stella Sport La Romagne.