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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Football: My Romance With The Beautiful Game

I agree with analysts who say football is the King of all sport, it has brought me much joy as well as pain in equal measure: let me take you down Memory Lane to the happiest and sadest days in my football life, starting from my sadest...

1. Super Eagles loss to Cameroon in the finals of the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations in Lagos (I was dejected, sad and inconsolable for days, I tactically avoided the back pages of newspapers and sporting programes on radio and TV for fear of being reminded of the "tragedy")

2. Super Eagles loss to Italy at the Second round of the 1994 world cup in the USA (I was in secondary school back then and the pain of that loss pricked my heart for several days)

3. Shooting stars of Ibadan's narrow loss to Zamalek of Egypt in the finals of the 1996 CAF champions league (my heart beat was rapid throughout the ensuing penalty shootout in Cairo, 3SC lost and the whole world collapsed on me, literarily)

4. Heartland football club of Owerri (in my home state of Imo) narrowly lost the finals of the 2009 CAF champions league to TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo (the then governor of Imo state, Ikedi Ohakim was at the stadium in Lubumbashi to cheer the team to victory but they lost 0-1 after the initial 2-1 victory in Owerri)

The good times:
1. Golden Eaglet's victory at the 1993 Under 17 world cup in Japan (I was ecstatic and over the moon with joy, some of the greatest football stars in the country were birthed from that squad, namely: Kanu Nwankwo, Wilson Oruma, Celestine Babayaro, Mobi Oparaku etal)

2. The 1-1 draw between the Super Eagles and their Algerian counterparts in Algiers which saw us qualify for the 1994 world cup in the USA (no trophy was won on the night, but it was going to be Nigeria's first appearance at the Senior level of the world cup, my joy was immeasurable, the Clemence Westerhorf era was to become the best in the history of the Super Eagles)

3. Enyimba's back to back victories in the CAF champions league of 2003 and 2004 (for me this was unarguably the best of times for club football in Nigeria, that star studded Enyimba squad was to produce great players for Nigeria, Ghana and Benin Republic, namely: Vincent Enyeama, Joetex Frimpong and Muri Ogunbiyi respectively.)

4.Nigeria's semi final victory over Brazil in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, USA and our eventual emergence as Gold medalists in the tournament (the midnight scheduling of some of the matches meant that Nigerians kept vigil like I did to see the matches in the football event of the Olympics and our vigil was not in vain as we became the first African country to win gold in the football event)

5.The 2013 victory of the Super Eagles at the Africa Cup of Nations hosted by South Africa ( the victory was unique in the sense that only a few Nigerians were optimistic that the young and virtually inexperienced squad could go all the way to the final, they did and capped it with the trophy, the third in Nigeria's history)

This summarily sums up my highs and lows in the process of following this beautiful game, please don't hesitate to add yours in the comment section.

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