For years, he has been represented his adopted country, Congo Brazzaville in various world championships and after three years absence from the Congolese team, Nigeria-born Lawal Abiodun returns to the team with a lot of optimism.

 Being a realist, the Spanish-based player said he is not expecting an African player to be among the title contenders with the quality of the Asian and European players.

  “In the last three years, I have not been part of this team but I returned to the team during the last ITTF African Senior Championship in Cairo, where I was edged out in the quarterfinal of the singles, while we claimed bronze in the team event. But attending the world championships in China will afford me the opportunity to cement my place in the national team. I have been playing in the Spanish League in the last two years with my present club being San Xoan, a second division team. I hope that I can be part of the team to the All Africa Games holding in September,” he said.

  But in China, Abiodun believes African players will only use the tournament to improve their ranking as none of them has the quality to be among the top four with the quality of the Chinese players. We can still get up and we still rub shoulders with the world’s best just like Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri and Omar Assar of Egypt have been doing, but it will take years for any African to dream of winning the title in any world championship. It is obvious that they will work hard to do well and also improve their world ranking. But winning the title is not a reality at all,” he admitted.

  Abiodun, who has not been part of the Cngolese team that has shifted their base to train in China in readiness for the All Africa Games said he might be teaming up with the team for the final phase of training.

  Also his compatriot – Saheed Idowu confessed that the feat achieved by Aruna Quadri in the world has put a lot of pressure on African players.

    “All eyes are on African players in China because most countries now believe playing against African players is a tough task and nobody wants to lose. It is good that Quadri improve the fortune of the game in the continent but in all the tournaments, everybody is aware of the potential of the players and this has put pressure on most of us to perform,” Idowu said.

  The Nigeria-born player who is featuring in his eighth World Championship for his adopted country, however said that his target is to qualify from the group and seal a place in the main draw. “I have been playing from the qualifiers and I am yet to make it to the main draw. I hope that this year, I can be counted among the players in the main draw. It is not going to be easy because most of the players in this tournament are good and you must be at your best to be part of the main draw,” he added.

  For Idowu, the tournament would also help players from Africa to improve their ranking as well as a tune-up to the 2015 All Africa Games in Brazzaville.

  “We have been in China since September last year training ahead of the All Africa Games and we believe that attending this World Championships will help improve our game because we are going to be playing against some of the best players in the world,” he said.