Nigerian city Lagos has been awarded hosting rights for the 2019 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Cup and Club Championships.
Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun will welcome around 70 players from 15 countries for the tournaments, with the Club Championships due to take place from July 31 to August 2 and the Cup scheduled to be held from August 3 to 5.
The events will serve as a dress rehearsal for the 2019 African Games, which are set to run from August 19 to 31 in Morocco’s capital Rabat.
According to the President of African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), Khaled El-Salhy, it was Nigeria’s hosting pedigree which prompted the ATTF Executive Council (EC) to give the West African nation the nod to stage the tournaments.
"Nigeria applied for the bid of hosting such prestigious event on time and the EC found it is a very good chance to bring the event to Lagos just prior to the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open in order to give multiple benefit for the African players to play more than one tournament, especially at same venue," he said.
"Also, it aims to encourage more African players to feature in the Nigeria Open this year."
El-Salhy expressed his optimism that more players would feature in the tournaments as most would be using them as a tune-up for the 2019 African Games, which serves as a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Nigeria Table Tennis Federation President Ishaku Tikon claimed staging the events would not be an issue.
"We are ready to host the tournaments as ITTF and ATTF have agreed to do the necessary things to ensure we stage befitting tournaments," he said.
"We have the experience and the human resources to put up a good show and we hope to again put Africa on the world map with hosting of the championships."
On the ability of Nigeria to host the tournament, El-Salhy said: "Nigeria is one of the very experienced African Federations hosting continental and world title events, and I see that success is increasing year by year for their ITTF world title event.
"Thus, this year, with additional African events, they will have more success."
Each national association is expected to register four players made up of two men and two women as the African Cup serves as a qualifier for the ITTF World Cups for men and women.
"Each association will register two male and two female players including title holders Quadri Aruna of Nigeria and Dina Meshref of Egypt, being the champions of the previous edition in Agadir, Morocco in 2017," El-Salhy added.