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Nigeria Set to Strut Their Stuff at Uber Cup Finals

Nigeria are hailing a breakthrough in global badminton after they qualified to represent Africa at the Uber Cup Finals from May 10-17 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Nigerians are claiming to be the first black nation since 1981 to compete in the Thomas Cup Finals, usually dominated by Asian and European countries, after they won the African preliminaries held in Mauritius.

This was the claim of Alhaji Kabiru Badamasi, president of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN), according to media in Nigeria. The last black team from Africa to play in the event was also Nigeria, BFN officials said.

Badamasi said the Nigerian team beat rivals such as Egypt, Mauritius, South Africa and Zambia to qualify to represent Africa in the finals of the sport's most prestigious team tournament.

The president also asked for financial help from the National Sports Commission to help prepare the players for the Finals. He believes US$60,000 would be enough to pay for expenses, including travelling and training.

The Nigerians face a tough time in the Finals because they have been placed in Group A with top seeds and defending champions China as well as Canada.

They may have a chance of victory against the Canadians. However, anything but defeat against China would go down as one of the greatest upsets in the history of the tournament.

Badamasi praised the NSC for helping the team in their qualification campaign.

"We are indeed very grateful to the National Sports Commission that has made it possible for us to be early in camp since January 16th and this has availed us the opportunity to have been to three international tournaments as part of Olympic qualifier," he said in

"We were in Uganda, in January, where we picked a Gold medal and the ladies performed well by picking the maximum points at stake, we later went to Mauritius for a two-in-one tournament which are the Thomas Cup and the Mauritius international. There, the male category also won the Thomas Cup [qualification], which is part of the Olympic qualification."

For Nigeria's women, their hopes are with the Olympic Games in Beijing with Grace Daniel and Susan Edeh leading their challenge.

"Grace Daniel, who started from 326 and now 91, is ranked as the first in Africa and if she maintains this position until April ending, she will automatically represent Nigeria in the ladies event, which is the ladies single at the Olympic in Beijing," he said.

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