Nigeria draws Czech Republic, Belgium, others for World Table Tennis Championships

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Nigeria’s male team has been handed a tough draw for the 2014 World Table Tennis Team Championships, as the Segun Toriola-captained side will tackle top playing nations like Czech Republic and Belgium in division two of the

Aside Czech Republic and Belgium, the team will confront the likes of Canada, Indonesia and Bosni-Herzegovina in Group E of the competition holding next month in Tokyo, Japan.

For the women pairing, the Funke Oshonaike-led side has been pitched against Commonwealth giant, India as well as Italy, Turkey, Portugal and Bulgaria in Group G.

Nigeria’s men team first group match will be against Indonesia on April 28, while on April 29 the team will face Belgium and Czech Republic.

On April 30, the team will take on Bosnia-Herzegovina while its last group match on May 1 will be against Canada.

For the women team, their first group encounter will be against India on April 28, while on April 29, the team will battle Bulgaria and Italy. On April 30, Nigeria will clash against Portugal, while its last group match is against Turkey on May 1.

The top teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinal stage with the last four teams gaining promotion to the championship division in 2016.

In 2010 and 2012,Nigeria’s male team made significant efforts to progress to the elite division but their efforts were not enough to secure a place for the team.

In the men’s seeding of Group E, Czech Republic is the top seeded team in division two and the team and Belgium are rated above Nigeria in the group.

However, the female team has not been impressive since 2008 in Guangzhou, China while at the 2012 edition in Dortmund, Germany, the team managed to escape relegation to division three. In this year’s edition, the trio of India, Italy and Turkey are seeded ahead of Nigeria while Portugal and Bulgaria are lower than Nigeria in the rating.

Meanwhile in the championship division, defending champion – China has been drawn in Group A alongside Austira, Russia, Brazil, Poland and Serbia, while Germany is in Group B with Hong Kong, Croatia, Singapore, Denmark and Ukraine.

Host – Japan has been pitched against Portugal, France, Greece, Romania and Hungary in Group C, while South Korea will tackle the likes of Chinese Taipei, Sweden, Belarus, Spain and North Korea in Group D.

For Japan’s Seiya Kishikawa, the draw was a good one for the team.

“We would like to qualify with the first position in the group, and then can get good a good draw hopefully”, said Seiya Kishikawa. “The first match against Greece who has a good defender, will be the most important for us.”

But Kenta Matsudaira referred to Greece’s Panagiotis Gionis, a player many now fear.

“We can’t say that we’re in an easy group because every nation is very strong”, added Kenta Matsudaira. “Each has good quality, I can only say that it is good for me because there are all European teams except Japan in our group.

Head Coach of the German Men’s Team, Jörg Rosskopf said: “No question, the group is demanding but this does not influence our goal; we want to be first in the group and thus secure the best position, not to meet China before the final. Above all, as a coach I have to worry more about the shape of my players than about the draw, we still have three short training camps and the German Open before the World Championships; it is important that the players reach their top performance in the remaining time and focus one hundred percent on Tokyo”.