2021 NTTF National Championships: Players talk tough in tournament’s crucial stage

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As the 2021 Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) National Championships wind down, title contenders in the singles event have started the tough talk with all eyes on Fatimo Bello and Bose Odusanya.

Also on Thursday, some former players re-enacted their youthful days as the battle for the top prize in the veteran men’s singles commenced from the round of 64 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

Already, the contenders in the singles event have started showing their faces considering what happened in the finals of the team event on Wednesday.

It is now clear that the battle for the women’s singles event will be between Bello, National Sports Festival champion as well as six-time Asoju Oba Cup champion Bose Odusanya of Lagos.

Also, number one seed in the men’s singles Taiwo Mati of Ondo showed his class against his fierce rival Azeez Solanke of G20 of Taraba in the final of the men’s team event with Mati leading the Ondo team to victory to retain their status as the best playing team in the country.

Friday is the fourth day of the N4.5m prize money championship and it promises to be exciting as winners will emerge in the U-21 and doubles event as the battle to share from the purse hots up.

A determined Bello said that she is not ready to surrender her title in Lagos having dominated the women’s singles in Edo and Abuja tournaments recently. “I am not ready to be beaten but I am sure it is not going to be an easy task for me in this tournament looking at what happened in the final of the women’s team event against Lagos. I know Bose Odusanya is in fine form but I must admit that she is not the only player that can be favoured as a title contender as other players are there to battle. But with determination and focus will see me through because I am also playing well in the tournament,” Bello said.

However, Odusanya believes her performance in the team event has shown that she is a contender for the title. “I think my performance in the team event final has boosted my confidence going into the singles event. There is no doubt that there are a lot of good players but I am sure that I can brave the odd and finish very well in the tournament. I am praying to God to give me the strength and ability to continue to raise my game,” the Lagos State champion said.