Aruna Quadri and Bode Abiodun are the verge of qualifying for the semifinal stage of the European Table Tennis Union (ETTU)-organised Champions League after their Portuguese team ? Sporting defeated French champion ? Stella Sport La Romagne 3:1 in the first leg of the quarterfinal tie.
Playing in front of their home fans in Lisbon, Sporting as the first Portuguese team to feature and make it to the quarterfinal of the Champions League is one leg into the last four of the lucrative league.
Inspired by the presence of their fans coupled with the inspiration from Captain Joao Monteiro, Sporting played their heart out to dazed the star-studded French champion in Lisbon on Thursday, January 25.
Sporting kept faith with the trio of Monteiro, Aruna Quadri and Diogo Carvalho in their selection for the epic encounter against the trio of Shihao Wei, CHEN Tian Yuan and Brice OLIVIER.
In the first match, Aruna Quadri was set up against southpaw Shihao Wei and with huge support from the home crowd, Quadri was putting everything into the game but being the first time he was playing the Chinese star, he was down 2-1 (5:11, 12:10, 7:11). What looked like a recovery for Aruna Quadri was in the offing in the fourth game when he led 7-3 but the Chinese raised from behind to win at 9:11 to end the first match at 3-1.
It was captain Monteiro that restored the confidence of Sporting with a convincing 3-1 (11:7, 11:8, 8:11, 11:
win over CHEN Tian Yuan to put the encounter at 1-1.
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 like a soldier 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.
Speaking of the secret behind the team?s success, Aruna Quadri praised the inspiration of Captain Joao Monteiro, whom he said has been motivating the team. ?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 the 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