Apart from making history with Sporting as the first Portuguese team to make it to the last four of the lucrative European Table Tennis Union (ETTU) Champions League, Nigeria’s duo of Aruna Quadri and Bode Abiodun have joined the league of table tennis stars that have etched their names in the annals of history.
The qualification of Sporting was confirmed after the team played 3-2 away to French champion – Stella Sport La Romagne in the second leg of the quarter-final tie over the weekend.
Having defeated the French side, who were co-debutants 3-1 in the first leg held in Lisbon.
Inspired by their talisman captain, Joao MONTEIRO as well as Quadri who has also been in fine form in the league, Sporting celebrated into the night last Friday following the triumphant entrance into the elite round of the competition.
From the start of the tournament, Quadri told reporters that the management of Sporting was sceptical about the team’s chance but they were proved wrong by the excellent performance of the players who edged one of the former champions in the group stage.
“ I am so excited about our qualification because nobody gave us any chance when we were drawn alongside two former champions as a debutant. But we played as a team and we braved the odd to make it to the last eight of the competition. Now we have proved another point with our eventual qualification to the semifinal stage. I must commend my teammates and particularly my captain who has been an inspiration to use with his performance,“Quadri said.
An elated Joao MONTEIRO attributed the win to teamwork. “We are all very happy with this achievement. Never before a Portuguese team has played the Champions league and in the year of the debut, we reached the semifinal and be among the top four teams in is Europe for this season amazing. This was made possible due to team spirit and we all managed to all be in good shape in all the matches which were important. Also, the help and support, of our fans was an important key.“
For the semifinal tie, next up for Sporting is a tough encounter with defending champions Fakel-Gazprom Orenburg of Russia, who fielded the ever-reliable line-up of Japan’s Jun Mizutani, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Belarus’ Vladimir Samsonov