By James Crook

Nigeria's Segun Toriola is one of the players that competed at the Lagos International Classic, and will be hoping of a place at the African Top 16 in his home country next yearSeptember 29 - Following the successful hosting of the Lagos International Classic last month, Nigeria have been awarded the rights to host the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Top 16 Cup next year, it has been announced.

African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) President Khaled El-Salhy said that the decision to award the tournament to Nigeria was on the recommendation of its Executive Committee, and also of the success of the Lagos International Classic.

"This is to confirm that the ITTF has approved the bid of Nigeria and the recommendation of ATTF Executive Committee to stage the 2014 ITTF-Africa Top 16 Cup in Lagos on June 27 to 28 2014," he said.

"We are confident the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) can organise a Continental/World Title event quite successful.

"The Lagos Classic was quite successful in terms of media coverage, while the turnout of spectators really gave a good image to the event.

"Moreover, the technical benefit for Nigerian players was also a big gain.

"The Lagos Classics was a pilot project for Nigeria and ATTF to use the media coverage to promote advertising/sponsorship resources, as well as the expected technical promotion for all African players especially Nigerian players."

The NTTF were hopeful of securing a higher standing within the table tennis world by proving their capabilities to successfully host a tournament in order to improve their chances of hosting more prestigious events for the nation in the future.

ATTF vice-President Olabanji Oladapo believes that securing the rights to host this tournament will not only boost Nigeria's status within the table tennis world, but could also improve standards of their players and help them become more competitive on the international circuit.

"As I said in one of my interviews during the Lagos Classic, the classic was a test event that will open doors for other ITTF/ATTF sanctioned competitions for Nigeria," he said.

"The way, it was managed was good and it made it easier for us to push for the Africa Top 16 Cup despite intense lobbying from other African countries to host the competition.

"We have shown ITTF/ATTF our capacity to organise a good competition and I am sure more opportunities will come our way.

"Nigeria will get equipment from the ITTF that will be used for the competition and ITTF will also send their experts to Nigeria to train our technical officials in our area of needs.

"Our performance in organising the Africa Top 16 Cup will also open doors for other opportunities, while the presence of top players in the Africa Top 16 Cup and world class players in the Lagos Classics will expose our players and table tennis lovers to high-level competition."

Nigerian number one Aruna Quadri will be in contention for a place at the African Top 16 in his home nationNigerian number one Aruna Quadri will be in contention for a place at the African Top 16 in his home nation

NTTF President Wahid Oshodi described the development as a sign of things to come for the sport in Nigeria.

"We are pleased that the ATTF has seen it fit to grant the NTTF the hosting rights to the new premier competition in Africa," he said.

"This is fallout of the successful Lagos Classics, which we recently held and it is recognition of the hard work the NTTF has put in over the last three months in developing the game in Nigeria.

"To bring the top 16 male and female players in Africa to Lagos will further help in our efforts to popularise the game.

"We have received many kind accolades as regards the organisation of the Lagos Classics and we are grateful to all our sponsors both corporate and individuals, especially the Governor of Lagos State and the large number of lovers of the game who made the tournament successful.

"We will work hard to ensure that we deliver a first class tournament so that the confidence reposed in us by the ITTF will be fully justified."

He then thanked the media for their coverage of the Lagos Classic and their cooperation to make the tournament a success.

"We are also extremely grateful to our friends in the media because the coverage of the Lagos Classics was a first of its kind," he said.

"Across all media, the support and the stories that came out were excellent and this just tells you what teamwork can do."

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