An excited Ahmed Saleh of Egypt says defeating Nigeria in the male and female categories of table tennis events at the ongoing 12th African Games was important to them and a revenge against the country.
“I am so happy that we were able to achieve our dream of avenging the 2015 loss in 2019, and I think this is the most important match for us because we had prepared very well for it in the last five months,’’ Saleh said after the defeat late on Friday in Rabat.
“We expected that we will meet Nigeria in the final and we were really surprised with the doubles’ line-up of Nigeria when they paired Aruna Quadri and Segun Toriola because they have been playing with the pair of Toriola and Olajide Omotayo since the start of the tournament.
“This is very important for us picking the gold medals and securing our place in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
“I am personally so excited and for the team we are so excited winning the gold medals and, most especially qualifying for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
“We really prepared for this match and we knew it was going to be tough even when we were leading 2-0. We had thought we could win the match at 3-0, but we had to fight till the end.
“Nigeria team is not a pushover and we prepared very well for the match because we had expected it to be though. I am so happy that we have now secured our place in Tokyo.’’
Meanwhile, team Nigeria have booked semi-final slots in the male and female football events of the 12th African Games, as the Flying Eagles stopped the host Morocco in the last group match.
The Nigerian team needed a draw to stop Morocco who need to win to advance to semi-finals stage.
Emeka Chinonso in jersey 11 made the difference with the second goal late in late in the second half to break the heart of the Moroccans.
The England Brooke House Football Academy striker’s 85th minute goal was all Nigeria need to book a place in the semi-finals.
The Moroccans took the lead after a defensive error the first half.
The Flying Eagles fought hard to get the equaliser through a penalty scored by the captain, Abubakar Ibrahim to end the first half.
The Moroccans got their own share of penalty when the referee ruled that Samuel Zaruma handled the ball in the box and the resultant penalty was scored by Ismail Moutarajji.
But the fighting spirit of Nigeria came to fore when the Flying Eagles came back through the goal scored by Chinonso to end the game 2-2.
The female team had earlier qualified for the semi-finals from Group B.
(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)