Top seed at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open, Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, booked his spot in the Round of 16 after winning his first two games of the tournament on Friday, at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Indoor Sports Hall at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

Earlier in the day, Aruna, who only arrived Lagos on Thursday, beat Italy’s Antonino Amato (11-7, 14-12, 11-6, 11-5) to advance to the Round of 32. He then handed a 4-1 defeat to Egypt’s Khaled Assar on Friday evening, buoyed on by the support of the home crowd.

Speaking with Making of Champions after his game, Aruna affirmed the support of the home fans, saying he wanted to win for them.

“I am very happy about my victory and I must say kudos to the home crowd”, he said. “They really gave their heart and soul to me. I really appreciate them. It was a very tough match. I think I played really bad in the morning but tonight I rested a little bit before the match and it really showed that I am getting better and better. Tomorrow, I am going to be even better by God’s grace. I really want to make the home crowd happy and give my heart and soul.”

Through to the Round of 16, Aruna will face teammate, Kazeem Makanjuola, who defeated Congo’s Saheed Idowu in the Round of 32.

“I am playing against a compatriot in the Round of 16. Playing against a Nigerian is always difficult for me; it’s going to be 50-50 because I do not think the home crowd will support anyone tomorrow, but I think God is going to be on my side again tomorrow”, he said.

Makanjuola on the other hand, disclosed that his target is to be among the top finishers this year. Makanjuola had ended the hopes of India’s Abhishek Yadav (11-9, 11-4, 10-12, 11-4, 11-3) in the first round, before this evening’s victory over Idowu.

Veteran Segun Toriola also advanced to the Round of 16 in the men’s singles at the 2018 Nigeria Open.

The duo of seven-time Olympian Segun Toriola and Jamiu Azeez also qualified for the Round of 16 after dispatching South Africa’s Kurt Lingeveldt (4-0) and Thiago Monteiro of Brazil (4-2) respectively. Earlier in the day, Toriola, the No.14 seed, accounted for China’s Wan Xinyang (11-13, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-8).

Youngster Olajide Omotayo had exited the tournament in the first round after giving up a 2-0 lead to lose to Egypt’s Helmy Mahmoud. It was a similar case for Bode Abiodun, a member of Nigeria’s Silver-winning team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, as he slipped on his lead, allowing India’s Ronit Bhanja take a 4-3 victory to advance to the round of 32.

Meanwhile, only two Nigerian women were left standing after the first round, which served off on Friday morning.

Veteran Olufunke Oshonaike, the No.8 seed, beat Elodie Ho Wan Kau (11-9, 11-6, 11-4, 11-4), while Cecilia Akpan, the No.16 seed, overcame Nandeshwaree Jalim (11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8). However, Offiong Edem, the No.11 seed, wasn’t as lucky as she succumbed to defeat from China’s Wei Wensheng (11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6).

The second round and quarter-finals of the Women’s Singles event will be played on Saturday 11th August, as well as the Round of 16 and quarterfinals of the men’s Singles event. The men and women’s semis will come up on Sunday morning, while the finals of the Single events will be decided on Sunday evening.

Five-time Olympian Funke Oshonaike qualified for the Round of 16 on Friday.

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer at Making of Champions. She has a bias for athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the National Sports Festival and the African Athletics Championships, and has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). Yemi holds a BA in Public Administration from Ahmadu Bello University .

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