Ahead ITTF Africa Senior Cup: Kazeem Makanjuola Steps Into Big Shoes In Cameroon

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Kazeem Makanjuola
Kazeem Makanjuola

Since his scintillating performance at the 2013 Lagos International Classics where he finished third, Kazeem Makanjuola has become a regular in the Nigerian team and he has featured in most of the international tournaments with his last outing being the 2015 World Championships in Suzhou, China.
And when one of Nigeria’s most decorated athletes, Segun Toriola, withdrew from the 2015 ITTF Africa Senior Cup in Yaoundé, Cameroon, it was easy for the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) to call up Makanjuola to step into the shoes of Toriola for the Cameroon tournament.
With this development, Makanjuola will be making his second appearance at the tournament after losing to Egypt’s El-Sayed Lashin in the quarterfinal stage of the 2013 edition in Oyo, Congo Brazzaville.
An excited Makanjuola knows what is at stake in Yaoundé and he is ready to better his 2013 outing in Yaoundé.
“I am very excited that I was considered to step into the shoes of Segun Toriola after he withdrew due to ill-health and I understand the confidence that NTTF repose on me and I must ensure I don’t fail them in Cameroon. Also this has afforded me the rare opportunity to make my second appearance at the tournament after losing to El-Sayed Lashin in 2013 in the quarterfinal stage while I defeated him during the Club Championship at the same event. For me, I see this as an opportunity to prove myself and make my country proud,” he said.
Prior to his call-up for the Cameroon competition, Makanjuola said he has been training hard in readiness for the All Africa Games after being included in the 20-man list released by NTTF for the multi-sports games in the Central African country come September.
“Before I got the nod to make the team to Cameroon, I have been training for the All Africa Games after being invited to camp and this has also put me in good shape for the Yaoundé tourney. My efforts in the past few weeks will surely be put to test in Yaoundé and I am confident that my best will come to fore,” he said.
Makanjuola however admitted the threat the Egyptians might pose to Nigeria, adding that others would not be able to withstand the prowess of the West African players.
“I know that the Egyptians are the only team that will want to prove hard because Congo Brazzaville is our familiar opponents that we are sure of overcoming them in Cameroon. Personally my target is to make it to the semi-final stage and from there anything can happen. I finished in the last eight in 2013 and I hope I can do better than that this year without any intimidation from the Egyptians because they are beatable,” Makanjuola said.

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