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Quadri, Abiodun edges closer to semis of ETTU Champions League

Aruna

Aruna Quadri and Bode Abiodun are edging closer to becoming the first Africans to play in the semifinal stage of the lucrative European Table Tennis Union (ETTU)-organised Champions League after Portugal’s Sporting Club defeated French champion – Stella Sport La Romagne 3:1 in the first leg of the quarterfinal tie.

With Aruna Quadri playing a crucial role in the victory, Sporting as the first Portuguese team to feature and make it to the quarterfinal of the Champions League is one match away from making history in Europe.

With Bode Abiodun sitting out during the encounter, it was Aruna Quadri that sealed the win for the Portuguese team in the epic encounter played at the weekend in Lisbon, Portugal.

Inspired by the presence of their fans coupled with the inspiration from Captain Joao Monteiro, Sporting played their heart out to daze the star-studded French champion.

Relying on the trio of Monteiro, Aruna Quadri and Diogo Carvalho that ensured their qualification to the last eight, the French team has in their fold two Chinese stars – Shihao Wei and CHEN Tian Yuan as well as Frenchman Brice OLIVIER.

As a key player for Sporting, Aruna Quadri started the encounter against southpaw Shihao Wei. But a narrow loss to the Chinese gave the visitors a 1-0 lead after Aruna Quadri lost 3-1 to Wei in the first match.

Captain Monteiro restored parity with a convincing 3-1 (11:7, 11:8, 8:11, 11:8) win over CHEN Tian Yuan.

Buoyed by Monteiro’s win, Diogo Carvalho played with his heart as the venue was thrown into frenzy with another 3-1 (11:4, 11:8, 6:11, 11:9) win over Brice OLLIVIER to give Sporting, a 2-1 lead.

The hope of the Lisbon was now on Aruna Quadri in the fourth match and motivated by the victories of his comrades, the Nigerian  made nonsense of Chen Tian Yuan with a 3-0 (14:12, 11:9, 11:7) rout of the Chinese to the admiration of the home fans.

The second leg of the quarterfinal tie holds in France on February 9, in the home of Stella Sport La Romagne.

An elated Aruna Quadri described the victory as a result of team work. “I think the support we have been given ourselves in every match has been our advantage particularly the pep talk from Captain Monteiro has been very inspiring. When I lost the first match, I was really down but when Monteiro and Diogo won their matches, I was really motivated that I can also do what they have done.

“Before the fourth match, our captain told me that I can do it and these words were always in my mind during the match. My opponent – Chen Tian Yuan defeated me 3-0 when I was playing in the French league last season and this was what gave them the confidence that he can repeat same feat again. But the support from my team coupled with the fans backing were the tonics I needed to silent the Chinese,” Aruna Quadri said.