14-year-old Egyptian table tennis prodigy says playing in Nigeria is fun

The rave of the moment Egyptian table tennis star, Hana Goda, on Friday said playing in Nigeria was fun, adding that she felt so relaxed having the cheers from the stands by Nigerians.

Goda in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the on-going International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Cup at the Molade Okoya Thomas Hall, Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere submitted that Nigerian fans have been good to her.

NAN reports that Nigeria is hosting the annual ITTF Africa Cup in Lagos with representatives of Africa countries participating.

The young Goda currently occupies Number one position in U-15 and U-17, and also part of the Egyptian six-man team for the 2022 ITTF Africa Cup.

However, the tournament favourite, Goda, is ranked World number 42nd and the second-best female player in Africa; she is also the youngest finalist in history at the African Cup Championships since her debut.

Goda at the 2021 ITTF African championships by whiskers lost 2-3 to her senior colleague, Maram Alhodaby in a terse final match after she had upset the defending champion and three-time Olympian, Dina Meshref in the semi-finals in Cameroon last year.

Goda also have history of defeating Nigeria’s great table tennis stars such as seven-time Olympian, Funke Oshonaike in the Semi-finals of the last African Cup Championships, while she also overpowered Nigeria’s top ranked Offiong Edem in the team event.

The Egyptian, blessed with speed and accuracy, is widely touted as the future of table tennis since her reign as National Singles champion at just 12 years old.

With heavy expectations to deliver at this year’s event, Goda told NAN that she was not in any pressure to repeat her previous feat in the championships, adding that she was only poised to give her best.

“I am so happy playing in this country, Nigeria. It is a pleasure playing here and seeing Nigerian fans behind me.

“It is motivating to bring the best in everyone. We are looking for points and I feel good playing in Nigeria.

“I don’t feel any pressure playing, maybe because am used to it, I only want to be at my best in this tournament and try to please the fans, have fun and hopefully get the best.

“I don’t know why I am so special, I think people like me because they love to watch younger player and to be honest, I want to thank everyone here supporting me,” she said.

NAN reports that Goda is through to the round 16 knockout stage.

Also, Nigeria’s female table tennis contingents are exerting their authority at the ongoing African Cup with Oshonaike through to the knockout stage after defeating Tunisian teenager Maram Zoghlami in a hard fought 3-2 (11-26, 6-11, 12-14, 11-5, 11-5).

Her Nigerian counterpart, Offiong Edem joins in the knockout round alongside Ajoke Ojomu and Fatimo Bello all to savor a berth at the finals.