TUC 2010 Day 2 – Missing Nigerians hope for Bright Future

The “missing” Nigerians are finally here. After failing to show up for the opening Group B tie against hosts Malaysia yesterday, Nigeria took on Japan in the second day of […]


The “missing” Nigerians are finally here. After failing to show up for the opening Group B tie against hosts Malaysia yesterday, Nigeria took on Japan in the second day of competition today. They lost, but hinted they were to be heard from again in the future.

By Selina Ng, Badzine correspondent, live from Putra Stadium, Kuala Lumpur. Photos : Badmintonphoto (live)

The presence of the Nigerian team was greatly felt in the Putra Stadium as all eyes were on them from the moment they entered. Seldom do fans get to see players from the African continent playing in prestigious tournaments such as the Thomas Cup and the players seem to be soaking up to the atmosphere. The players were spotted dividing among themselves their new shoes, new racquets, and new sports attire fresh from the packaging to prepare for their first match of the tournament. However, Day2-nigeria2the matches that they were about to play were merely “exhibition matches” played for “the spirit of the game” as described by the Committee of Management of the tournament.

The Committee had earlier decided that Malaysia would be awarded a walkover with a 5-0 score after the Nigerians failed to report for the tie last night. It was also decided that the result of the Japan-Nigeria tie will not count toward the final team positions in Group B, meaning that Japan would win the tie 5-0 regardless of the outcome. However, each of the individual matches will count towards the world rankings.

The Japanese did not need the helping hand. They easily trashed their opponents 5-0 in just one hour and 42 minutes. Japan’s top men’s singles Kenichi Tago started the campaign for the Japanese team by easily beating Fagbemi Olaoluwa 21-10, 21-14, followed by the second point, contributed by Kenichi Hayakawa-Kenta Kazuno, who steamrolled past Adamu Ibrahim-Edicha Ocholi 21-5 21-13 in only 13 minutes. Sho Sasaki and Shoji Sato then went on Day2-nigeria3to clinch 2 more points from the singles while Noriyasu Hirata-Hirokatsu Hashimoto wrapped up the tie for Japan.

“I was hoping to play against Lee Chong Wei”

The Nigerian team had an eventful and troublesome flight experience as they tried to make their way to Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Their flight from Lagos to Qatar was cancelled and all efforts to reschedule another flight were unsuccessful. Disappointment was clearly sketched upon their faces for being late and missing the first tie.

“We were supposed to arrive on Sunday afternoon but our flight to Qatar got cancelled due to technical problems. We couldn’t come earlier either because we had our national trials for the Commonwealth Games going on during the week. In the end, we travelled for more than 24 hours and we’re disappointed for not being able to play against Malaysia. I was hoping to play against Lee Chong Wei yesterday. We have certainly learnt a lesson from this and we will leave earlier the next time,” said Fagbemi.

Day2-nigeria4The doubles players lauded their compatriot’s comments and claimed that this was a terrible experience for them.
“The travelling was very tiring because of the flight problems. It was terrible not being able to play the home team but we told ourselves to just go ahead with the remaining matches,” said Adamu.

“The atmosphere in Malaysia is very different from Nigeria. The weather here affected my physical condition as I felt that my hands were very heavy when playing here. It would definitely be better if we had time to acclimatize to the conditions here before the match. However, I think that this is the best major tournament I’ve ever been to. I’ve taken part in the World Championships in Denmark in 1999 but this Malaysian Thomas Cup is the best because the organizing committee is very good,” said Edicha.

Bright future lies ahead

Despite Nigeria’s quick loss to Japan, their future in the sport seems bright based on the support given by their country.

“We have our own national tournament back in Nigeria. We train everyday and we have coaches, players, training centers. There are many more young players in Nigeria waiting to step up their game and become professional players. Our ministry supports the sport well and we just love the game,” said the 26-year-old Fagbemi.

Day2-nigeria5Adamu added that badminton is growing fast in Nigeria and at the moment, Nigeria is the best team in the African continent. He himself is planning to become a coach when he finally hangs up his racquet.

As for now, the Nigerians will stay in Malaysia until the end of the tournament to hang around shopping in Kuala Lumpur as it is their first time in the country. After that, it is all back to business for them as they get themselves geared up for the Commonwealth Games in October.

In another Thomas Cup tie, Germany eliminated Poland from the tournament by beating them 5-0 in a Group C tie. Poland already suffered defeat in the hands of Denmark last night and is thus booted from the competition.

Badzine is reporting ‘live’ at the 2010 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Kuala Lumpur! Check back for our daily news updates and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For complete results from Day 2 of the 2010 , CLICK HERE

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Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.