Toriola hinges poor outing in Busan on Aruna’s absence

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Nigerian team handler, Segun Toriola, has attributed the team’s failure to book a spot in the knockout stage of the ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships holding in Busan, South Korea, on the absence of the team’s best player, Quadri Aruna.

Aruna withdrew from the tournament following the illness he had a few days to the competition.

Speaking on Nigeria’s performance in Busan, Toriola said: “It is obvious that the absence of Aruna affected the team’s performance because being a top player, his presence alone would have motivated his teammates to do well.

“Even before our match against Japan, the technical crew of the Asian giants were fretting thinking that Aruna may pose a big challenge for them. Fortunately for them, Aruna withdrew and they had an easy passage in the competition. Aruna no doubt is one of the most respected players in the world because of his quality and for me, his presence in the team would have mentally and psychologically helped his teammates to do well,” Toriola admitted.

The former African champion, who was named the acting coach of the national team by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), said the country’s best route to the top is by exposing young players to top-class competitions just like Tunisia and other African nations have been doing lately.

“We need to start exposing our young players to competitions of this magnitude so that they can learn from the likes of Aruna and Olajide Omotayo. This will boost their morale going into any competition. Other countries like Algeria now have quality players who had failed to make the French team and are now seeking success in their native country to make it to the Olympic Games.

“We need to watch out for this kind of players, but we must continue to support our young players in their quest to compete favourably with their foreign counterparts,” he added.

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