Lagos to Host ITTF World Cup Qualifiers


THE maiden edition of Africa Top 16 Cup, which holds in June, is to serve as the continental qualifiers for this year’s Men and Women World cups in table tennis tournament.

The International Table Tennis Federation, ITTF, which gave the decision, said the tournament which holds on June 27 to 28 at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, would feature top rated African players competing for the sole spot in the men and women qualifiers.

Also, most of the players taking part in the Africa Top 16 Cup would join their counterparts across the globe to be part of the ITTF Lagos World Tour tagged Nigeria Open holding on June 23 to 26, at same venue. To ensure adequate participation, the Africa Table Tennis Federation, ATTF, disclosed that it had sent invitations to the top 16 men and top 16 women on the ATTF’s ranking lists for May 2014.

Egypt’s El-Sayed Lashin and Congo Brazzaville’s Han Xing won the 2013 ITTF-Africa Senior Cup held in Oyo, Congo Brazzaville and they also represented the continent at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup and Women’s World Cup. The two players are expected to of the coming event in Lagos. Although Lashin and Xing are regarded as favourites for gold, they are also expected to face stern opposition from Egypt’s duo of Omar Assar and Dina Meshref, who are potential entrants for the two-day competition.

There also will be a strong challenge from Egypt, Congo Brazzaville and even Nigeria, the host nation. Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna has shown good form in recent months, while there are few with the vast experience of Segun Toriola.

Equally for the women, the likes of Offiong Edem and Olufunke Oshonaike may well be on duty for host nation and with home support, the duo is expected to do well.

Van Gaal to Coach Manchester United

Louis van Gaal
van Gaal

LOUIS van Gaal, the Dutch current manager of the Netherlands national team, is the new manager of Manchester United. He is to be assisted by Ryan Giggs, former acting manger and player of the club. Van Gaal, 62, signed a three-year contract with the club recently. “I have managed in games at Old Trafford before and know what an incredible arena Old Trafford is and how passionate and knowledgeable the fans are,” van Gaal said upon signing for the club.

The Dutchman, who has won titles with Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AZ Alkmaar, will take charge at Old Trafford after the summer’s World Cup in Brazil. “This club has big ambitions. I too have big ambitions. Together I’m sure we will make history,” he said, adding: “It was always a wish for me to work in the Premier League. To work as a manager for Manchester United, the biggest club in the world makes me very proud. I have managed in games at Old Trafford before and know what an incredible arena Old Trafford is and how passionate and knowledgeable the fans are.”

After ending the reign of David Moyes in April after a troubled 10 months, Ed Woodward, executive vice-chairman at the club is convinced that van Gaal is the right man for the job. “His track record of success in winning leagues and cups across Europe throughout his career makes him the perfect choice. In Louis van Gaal, we have secured the services of one of the outstanding managers in the game today. Old Trafford provides him with a fitting stage on which to write new chapters in the Manchester United story,” Woodward said.

Okagbare Wins Double in Shanghai Diamond League

Blessing Okagbare

IN what looks like a build-up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, Blessing Okagbare won in the women’s 200m and the long jump events of the Shanghai Diamond League recently.

The 25-year-old Delta-born athlete triumphed in the 200m, setting a new meeting record of 22.36 to edge Anthonique Strachan of Bahamas for the gold. She also set a new meet record of 6.86 metres to clinch the gold medal in the women’s long jump event.

A fortnight earlier, Okagbare narrowly lost the first place to Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, a Jamaican and Olympic champion, in the opening leg of the 2014 Diamond League in Doha, Qatar.

Allyson Felix, a four-time Olympic gold medallist, made a disappointing return from injury, placing fifth in the 400m in Shanghai. Novlene Williams-Mills, another Jamaican, ran in 50.31 seconds to edge Botswanan Amantle Montsho, while Felix finished in 50.81.

Felix, 28, had targeted a quick return to the form that saw her crowned 200m Olympic champion in 2012, but was unable to follow the pace in her first race since injuring a hamstring at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.

American Justin Gatlin cruised the 100m in 9.92, the fastest time in the world this year. Russian Lyukman Adams claimed first in the men’s triple jump with 17.10 metres while Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie won the men’s pole-volt with a clearance of 5.92 metres.

Scotland’s Match, a Litmus Test for Eagles – Rufai

Peter Rufai

PETER Rufai, a former Nigeria goalkeeper, believes that the Nigerian friendly match with Scottish national team on May 28, would be crucial in preparing the Super Eagles for the World Cup in Brazil.  has spoken on the importance of the May 28 international friendly match between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and their Scotland counterparts slated for the Craven Cottage, home ground of relegated English Premier League side, Fulham.

Rufai, who is called ‘Dodo Mayana’ by his admirers, said the game apart from marking the very beginning of Super Eagles major preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil, would also serve as litmus test for the 30 players from which coach Stephen Keshi would be expected to pick his final 23 players for the Mundial. The former Super Eagles goalkeeper and captain, was particular about Osaze Odemwingie, a returnee to the Eagles camp and Stoke City of England striker, whom he said, had not featured for the team since after the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. “The friendly match against Scotland forms the start of the preparation for the World Cup finals,” Rufai said. He said further: “Of course, players like Osaze who has been out of the team for long will use the game to play himself back into the team, to convince the technical crew he remains the same quality striker he has always been. And don’t forget too that the coaches under Stephen Keshi will also use the game to assess the players’ fitness, response to tactical and technical situations among other issues. It’s going to be good game, very tough for the players because they know going to the World Cup depends on their performances during the game and of course some other friendly games coming up.”

The 30 players listed by Stephen Keshi for preparation towards the World Cup in Brazil are expected to arrive in London on May 25, for the friendly match with Scotland on May 28, at Craven Cottage Stadium in London.

— Jun. 2, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

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