Players and teams billed to battle for honours at the 2017 Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) National Open and Commonwealth Games trials are expected to arrive in Lagos today. Over 300 players across Nigeria are expected to compete in the 18 events, including para-athletes, who will also aim for places in the Commonwealth Games team.
At the four-day tournament, which serves off tomorrow with draws for the 18 events at the Indoor Hall of the National Stadium, all eyes will be on the 2017 Asoju Oba Cup champion, Jamiu Azeez, as well as women's singles defending champion, Cecilia Otu-Akpan.
Speaking on her expectations at the tournament, Otu-Akpan said she is not ready to lay down her title this year. "I must tell you that we have never had the kind of build-up we have been having in the last six weeks. We now train at the new ultra-modern hall with quality equipment and I will not like to talk too much, as I will only do my talking during the competition.
"I don't see anybody stopping me again this year as I am willing and eager to still remain the best in the country," the African Games medalist said.
Azeez, who is still ruing the manner he lost the 2016 edition title to Sola Oyetayo, said he hopes to reverse things this year.
"I cannot still believe that I lost a match I was leading 3-0 and 10-8 in the fourth game. But this is part of the lessons of life for me because it is not over until it's over. Now I am more conscious and ready not to allow this kind of situation to repeat itself again. I also believe the Asoju Oba Cup has helped to put me in top shape for the national open and trials," Azeez said.