The Nigerian boys, on Friday, got the better of the Sierra Leoneans to secure a 2-1 victory and clinch a semifinal spot by virtue of finishing second in Group B of the boys category at the African Junior Championship Finals qualifiers in Cotonou.
Just as it had been in their previous ties, 10-year-old Seun Ogunshakin got proceedings underway, taking on Salia Kamara in the 1st singles rubber. Ogunshakin would fend off a brutal challenge from Kamara in the opening set, digging deep when he was 4-5 down to level up, before both boys guided the set into a tie-breaker, which went Ogunshakin’s way. From there onwards, there was no looking back for the Nigerian as he went on to beat the Sierra Leonean 7-6, 6-3 and give his team a 1-0 lead.
The Sierra Leoneans leveled the tie in the 2nd singles after Precious Ikeuba went down in three sets. Ikeuba had rallied from an opening set loss to take the second set 6-3, but his nerves betrayed him in the deciding set, as he fell to a 5-7, 6-3, 4-6 defeat.
With the all-important doubles rubber left to play, Mohammed Idris combined brilliantly with Seun Ogunshakin and had the edge in the hotly-contested doubles, producing some fine plays and proving too sharp when it mattered most to claim a 7-6, 6-4 victory and move into the semifinals.
The boys qualified as runner-up in Group B, finishing behind host nation, Benin, who made light work of Togo to claim a 3-0 win. The boys will now take on Group A winners, Ghana in the semis, while Benin Republic square off against Mali in the other semis.
The winners of the both semi-finals will face off in the final in a bid to seal qualification for the AJC Finals event in Morocco.