*Upsets galore floods this edition
By Adeyemi Robinson-Adefioye, Lagos
Curtain will on Friday 1st December, be drawn on the 49th Asoju Oba Molade Okoya-Thomas as new champions emerge in the singles events of the competition.
Already winners have merged in the doubles, mixed doubles and singles events of cadet and junior categories while the biggest prize of the competition is expected to be presented to the new champions and men and women singles events.
Apart from the exit of the defending champion and number one – Rilwan Akanbi, the number three seed – Ahmed Adeyinka was also shown the exit in the quarterfinal round by southpaw David Fayele.
Akanbi, who has not hidden his intention to keep the title this year was made to chew his words when southpaw Monsuru Kazeem silenced him in the quarterfinal round of the men’s singles decided on Thursday November 30.
Like Akanbi, former champion – Adeyinka was made to eat the humble pie by Fayele also in the last eight encounters of the competition.
In the women’s singles, it was a battle between left-hand Alimot Ayinla and defending champion – Bose Odusanya who is also aiming to hold on to the title she won in 2016.
The road to the final for Ayinla and Odusanya was not without any hassle but both players showed their class when it mattered to berth in the final scheduled for Friday 1st December.
For the semi-final ties of the men’s singles, 2016 runners’ up, Azeez Solanke will battle Azeez Jamiu while giant-killing Fayele and Kazeem will slug it out in the second semifinal match.
The colourful closing ceremony will attract who-is-who in sports as dignitaries are expected to grace the grand finale holding at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.
It would be recalled that unseeded Bello Mustapha rubbished the seeding list when he bundled out number four seed, Olakunle Ajulo in the round of 32 of the men’s singles of 49th Asoju Oba Molade Okoya-Thomas Table Tennis Cup.
Although, Mustapha started the encounter as if he was going to thrash Ajulo but from 2-0 (11-6, 11-5) down, Ajulo restored parity with 9-11, 8-11 to put the encounter at 2-2. It was indeed a close call for the two players but it was the unseeded player that had the last laugh with 11-9 win to complete the 3-2 win.
However, Azeez Solanke has reaffirmed his decision not to lose the title this year. “I will never allow what happened to me last year repeated itself again because I was in charge of the final last year having come from 3-1 down to level up but it was sheer luck that was against me in the encounter for me to miss out from the title. This year I am in top form having trained very well in the last four weeks for this tournament. Nothing can prevent me from claiming the diadem this year. The only person I think might want to prove difficult for me is Jamiu Azeez because he is an experienced player,” Solanke said.
Solanke, who is a member of the national junior team to the 2016 World Junior Championship, lauded the family of the late business mogul, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas for keeping faith with the tournament, while hoping that the 50th anniversary would give players the opportunity to win juicy prize in 2018.