Nigerian players stepped up preparations for the upcoming Puma Engineer ITF Wheelchair Tennis Futures in Abuja with about a dozen players featuring in Wednesday’s training in Lagos.
The midweek session, which was presided by Nigeria’s head coach, Frank Tarmena, had the players work extensively on their movement after returning of serves. They also focused on having spins on their serves to make them gain more advantage against their opponents should they opponents make a slow return.
Leading the players training was the duo of London 2012 Paralympians Alex Adewale and Wasiu Yusuf. Idowu Ajani, Kazeem Akanbi and Mohammed Audu, all of whom are due for action in Abuja were among those that also turned up while top-ranked female player, Kafayat Omisore and her closest rival Chituru Nwazuzu also took part in the four-hour two-session exercise.
Adewale, a former Africa’s number five ranked player and Nigeria’s best player, said the players are eager to take full advantage of Nigeria’s hosting of the tournament with creditable performance.
“We are grateful that a tournament like this is taking place in Nigeria and we are determined to perform well and make Nigeria proud at the tournament,” he said while commending former Nigeria Tennis Federation boss, Engr. Sani Ndanusa for facilitating the championship.
He also disclosed that the former sports minister paid for the registration of all the 15 Nigerians that would be featuring in the $3,000 prize-money event is scheduled to hold from October 29 to November 4 at the National Tennis Centre, Package B National Stadium in Abuja.
It’s the first time Nigeria would be privilege to host the tournament and the nation’s players are keen to slug it out for valuable ITF points alongside contestants from other countries, at least, five of which are fellow Africans.
2018 AWCON: Banyana’s Coach Bows To Falcons’ Superior Value South Africa’s female national team, Banayana Banayana coach, Desiree Ellis has admitted that her side will find it tough against Nigeria’s Super Falcons when both sides clash at the Africa Women Nations Cup in Ghana, because their opponents have greater quality and value.
Speaking of her projections ahead of the November 17 opening Group B battle between both teams in Cape Coast, Ghana, Ellis said Nigeria will again be favourites because of their array of players based overseas, which she admits makes the defending champions very formidable.
Ellis added that, in terms of experience and pedigree, all permutations will be in favour of Nigeria beating her side at the start of their AWCON 2019 campaign, but added that it does not mean Banyana will enter the game with a negative mentality, footballlive.ng reports.
Rather than give up before the match, Ellis stressed that she and her players will prepare in the best way possible and hope to take their chances during the game, from which she believes they can gain a lift or two that would help them in the other games against Kenya and Zambia.
The Banyana former captain said her side’s ambition will be winning a first-ever African title and to secure a qualification ticket to France 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Having finished as runners-up four times, Banyana Banyana are eyeing a maiden African crown, as they prepare to line out against the eight-time winners Nigeria, as well as Zambia and Kenya, in Group B.
Ellis, however, admitted that the opener with Nigeria will be the biggest and most important match for South Africa at Ghana 2018.
She retorted: “Nigeria have a lot of quality players who play abroad in top leagues and that experience you cannot buy.
“The fact that they are the defending champions says a lot about the quality they have.
“We will also be able to have a look at Zambia and Kenya in their first fixture at the tournament. I’m sure, the neutrals would have wanted that.
“The most important match is the first game and it cannot come bigger than playing Nigeria. You have to be on top of your game from the start.”
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