The Nigerian boys narrowly lost out on a final ticket, after they were edged 2-1 by the Ghanaians in the semi-final of the boys’ category at the AJC Finals qualifiers in Cotonou on Saturday.
Seun Ogunshakin put the team in front after producing a resilient display in the 1st singles rubber to win 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 against his Ghanaian opponent. The 10-year-old held firm to take the opening set and then, brushed off the disappointment of a shaky second set to power to victory in third set. But the team just couldn’t find the edge from there. Precious Ikeuba was impressive in the 2nd singles rubber, but failed to get the breakthrough as he went down 4-6, 7-6.
In the doubles rubber, the impressive duo of Mohammed Idris and Seun Ogunshakin recovered from a sluggish start in the opener, rallying from 0-3 down to take the first set 7-5. However, the Ghanaians were the more decisive in the second set, doing well to level the tie and force a super tie-break. There, despite the incredible effort from Idris and Ogunshakin, the Ghanaians would snatch the tie-break to win 5-7, 7-6, 10-8 and move into the final, while the young Nigerians settle for a third-place contest.
For a third-place finish, the boys will, on Sunday, face Mali, who were beaten 2-1 by Benin Republic in the other semis.
Host nation, Benin will take on Ghana in the final to determine which team seals qualification to the AJC Finals in Morocco.
Elsewhere, the Nigerian girls made light work of the Gabonese to win 3-0, dropping just a game in the entire tie. Salamatu Haruna won 6-1, 6-0 in the 1st singles rubber, while Niniola Ajulo delivered a double bagel in the 2nd singles. In the doubles, Niniola partnered with Imole Afolabi to deliver another double bagel.
The girls will now take on the Sierra Leoneans on Sunday, in a bid to finish 5th in their category.
Only one team in the boys’ category and two teams in the girls’ category will qualify for the AJC Finals scheduled for September in Morocco.