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Team Nigeria makes semi-final in 2 categories; Boys’ 14 & Under qualification hopes for AJC event still hanging

Team Nigeria finished top of their group in the Boys’ 16 & Under category with a 3-0 victory over West African neighbour, Benin Republic. The boys have not lost a single rubber so far, having defeated Mali and Burkina Faso by the same scoreline.

Against Benin, Matthew Abamu delivered the 1st singles with a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 victory over Mariano Kpodeziaou, and Usman Kushimo fended off Aristode Setome’s challenge with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win. A 6-4, 6-4 victory in the doubles from Matthew Abamu and Mukhtar Andu over Mariano Kpodeziaou and Dylan Bruce ensured it was another clean sweep.

The boys will play Ghana in the semifinals on Monday.

Similarly, the Nigerian team secured top spot in the Girls’ 16 & Under group after defeating Ghana 3-0, same scoreline as their win against Burkina Faso and Benin.

Marylove Edwards defeated Honfogo Emeline 6-4, 6-1, while Rebecca Ekpeyong went past Houngbo Freda 6-4, 6-2 in the 2nd singles. Ekpeyong would team up with Mary Udoffa to secure the doubles tie for Nigeria with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Emeline and Freda.

Up next for the girls is a semifinal clash with Cameroon.

Elsewhere, it was another 3-0 victory for the Nigerian Team, this time in the Girls’ 14 & Under group against host nation, Togo.

Iye Onoja defeated Valentine Talaki 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, while Oiza Yakubu recovered from a lapse in concentration in the second set to secure a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Grace Tchamoussa in the 2nd singles rubber.

Serena Teluwo then formed a fine partnership with Iye Onoja to beat Talaki and Dermane Ishane 7-6, 6-1.

The girls stay top of their group temporarily, with one tie left to play against Benin Republic. A victory against the Beninese will secure top spot in the group for them and seal qualification for the African Junior Championship 14 & Under event in South Africa.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian team in the Boys’ 14 & Under category continues to falter. They sit fourth in the group standings with just 1 win from 3 ties, losing 1-2 to Togo and by the same scoreline to Benin Republic. Their only win came against Mali, where they secured a 3-0 victory.

Against Benin, Suleiman Ibrahim defeated Oudensi Emmanuel 6-2, 6-3 in the first singles, but Joshua Maxwell failed to build on that as he was beaten in the 2nd singles 6-0, 6-2 by Ollian Nahum. The team would again lose the doubles as Nahum and Emmanuel beat Nigeria’s duo of Ibrahim and Ganiyu Mubarak 6-2, 0-6, 10-7.

There’s still hope for qualification, however, as the team still has two ties left to play — against Ghana and Cameroon. Victory in both ties would see Nigeria finish as runner-up in the group and qualify them for the 1st African Junior Championship for 14 & Under which will take place in Benoni, South Africa.

The Coach of the Nigerian team, Abel Ubiebi recognizes the challenge ahead, but is optimistic of sealing qualification.

“The boys have some serious mountain to climb,” Ubiebi said. “But I believe in them. They can overcome Ghana and Cameroon and qualify Nigeria to the AJC.”

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