Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri believes his world rating would not put him under intense pressure to excel at the 2016 ITTF World Cup slated to hold in Saarbrucken, Germany.
Quadri’s performance at the 2014 edition of the championship remains the best by an African when the Nigeria got to the quarterfinal stage. The Oyo State-born player will be making his third appearance at the tournament as the continent’s flagbearer.
“I am not under any kind of pressure to play in Germany again because I am now getting used to playing under pressure and as a matter of fact I am going to Germany to enjoy myself without any kind of pressure.
“Statistics showed that I am not one of the favourites for the podium finish but similarly I am not really going to be playing without confidence as I always believe strongly in my capability.
“I am praying for a favourable draw that will favour me and if God answers my prayer to be on a good side of the draw, I believe that surprising the world more than I have done in the past is possible,” he said.
Quadri’s debut at the tournament was in 2009 and he is expected to compete against top 19 players across the globe including world’s number two and three, China’s Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong as well as Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who is the current European champion ranked sixth in the world.
Seventh- time Olympian, Segun Toriola is expected to guide Quadri during the tournament and the President of Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Wahid Oshodi believes Toriola’s experience would be helpful for Quadri in Germany.
“This is a really serious test. Nearly all the top 10 players will be there. Germany has always been a good place for Aruna. He has a large fan base there and his attacking style is so popular with the crowd.
“If he remains calm and focused like he was in the Olympics then he should go far in the competition. I am always quietly confident but unlike past years his success so far has ensured that he holds no surprises for the top players. He is a top world-class player now and if his forehand is firing then he will be a handful for anybody.
With Toriola’s experience to guide him and a bit of luck on his side he can go very far,” the NTTF boss enthused.
The draw for the tournament holds on Friday September 30 at Saarland Hall while the group matches will start on Saturday October 1.