Babatunde Ajagbe, the Captain of Team Nigeria, said on Tuesday that winning the opening match at the ongoing World Team Squash Championship in Tauranga, New Zealand, gave the team the confidence to perform well in the tournament.
Ajagbe made this statement in an exclusive interview during the ongoing tournament, which kicked off on Monday in Tauranga, New Zealand.
Ajagbe defeated Shota Yasunari 3-2, while Onaopemipo Adegoke won his match against Yujin Ikeda 3-2, and Gabriel Olufunmilayo defeated Yuta Ando 3-1.
“Yes, I am happy, and I feel very gratified winning our opening match. We intend to take each match as it comes and give it our best shot.
“The team is focused; our goal is to give a good account of ourselves and represent Nigeria and Africa in the best possible way,” he said.
The number two ranked male player in the country, Gabriel Olufunmilayo, said winning their first match had boosted the team's morale.
“I feel so good winning the first match against Japan; they gave us a good fight, but we didn’t give them any room.
"I was cramping throughout my match, likewise Onus, yet we fought hard to secure a big win.
“We will be playing against Switzerland, which is a very good team, but we are going all out today to show the world that Nigeria has fantastic players,” he said.
Kehinde Samuel said that being at the tournament has been a great experience and winning the team's first match was a great way to start off.
“We feel good as a team as the match was a crucial one we had to win to be able to pave our way to qualify from the pool stage.
“We put up a great fight, making sure that we kept our heads high and ultimately, it worked out just fine.
“We’re glad to have started like this in the tournament as this is the first time the majority of the team would be participating in a World Team Championship event.
“Moving forward, we look forward to qualifying from the pool stage, and with the help of our most senior and experienced player in Ajagbe, we will make it,” he said.
The tournament will run from Dec. 11 to Dec. 17 at New Zealand’s Mercury Baypark Arena and the Devoy Squash and Fitness Centre, Tauranga. The team, consisting of Tunde Ajagbe, Onaopemipo Adegoke, Olufunmilayo, and Kehinde Samuel, is one of the 24 teams participating in the championship organized by the World Squash Federation.
The biennial tournament, which features four-man squads from national federations, provides the platform for the teams to battle it out for the title of World Squash Team Champions.