The Mustapha brothers, Musa and Mustapha, were the centre of attraction at the 2018 ITTF Nigeria Open in Lagos on Wednesday after they featured in the U21 men’s singles.
Their hometown in the northeast of Nigeria, Borno State, has been embroiled in years of unrest owing to terrorist attacks, the Mustapha brothers have put not just themselves on the global stage but also shown that the troubled region can produce positive vibes.
Nine-year-old Musa and his older brother Mustapha, 10, whose first name is same as his last, took the centre stage at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos where 169 players from 26 nations are contesting for honours in the men’s and women’s events.
However the boys are based in Nigeria’s capital where they live with their father, Saheed Mustapha who himself is a former table tennis player. The youngest players at this year’s edition of the Nigeria Open are following in the footsteps of their father.
But their first appearances at the Nigeria Open did not end with joyous outcomes.
Both brothers took to the floor at the same time on Wednesday morning. Nine-year-old Musa faced Tobi Falana on table 4 while Mustapha had to contend with Emmanuel Augustine on table 5.
Musa, the youngest player at the tournament, fell to Falana 11-3, 11-6, 11-2 in his first group game and his brother lost to Augustine 11-3, 11-2, 11-8 in the first game.
The Mustapha brothers also suffered defeats in their second group games of the men’s U21s. China’s Xinyang Wang beat Mustapha in three straight sets of 11-5. 11-3, 11-3 while Musa lost to Ziad Wael of Egypt 11-7, 11-4, 11-3.
In the face of defeats the unperturbed brothers have earned themselves good enough reviews through the official account of the tournament which first published their feat of being the youngest players at this year’s tournament.
— ITTF Nigeria Open (@ITTFNigeriaOpen) August 8, 2018
Role models of the Mustapha brothers
Though their father may have influenced their choice of taking up the sport, Musa and Mustapha still have role models of their own. For Musa, he prefers World number 6, Harimoto Tamokazu of Japan while his older brother picks Germany’s Timo Boll.
The Mustapha brothers have taken their first international outing as a learning curve and hope to be back in future to prove why they have the like of Boll and Tamokazu as role models.
The older brother Mustapha said: “We began playing table tennis in 2017 and have played in a few other tournaments but the Nigeria Open is our first international tournament. We have learned a lot from playing against more experienced players.”
Musa was quite confident in his assertion. He made it clear that he “will win the Nigeria Open in future.”
© The Predictor NG