Abeit the early exit of the Super Eagles from the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroun, many football followers in Lagos are thrilled over the continuation of the 10 viewing centres mounted across the state by the Lagos State government.
At the Bishop Aggrey Youth Centre in Mushin, one of the centres where matches of the AFCON are beamed live on match days, the clash between Egypt’s Pharaohs and Cote d’Ivoire’s Elephants is another day that will linger on in the minds of the residents of the area, surprised at the crowd who came to watch the epic clash between two giants of Africa.
A first timer to the centre would think it was the Eagles playing a match due to the large crowd, especially as the place was filled by English Premier League fans there to support their clubs’ players.
Many fans at the centre overwhelmingly were Liverpool’s supporters, who came to root for Egypt’s Mohammed Salah. At the end of the meet, Egypt beat Cote d’Ivoire 5-3 on penalties to progress to the quarterfinals. And to the delight of the obviously Liverpool fans, of Salah scored the last penalty kick that gave the Pharaohs passage to the next round of the competition.
One of the fans, Ilori Oladipupo, who spoke to The Guardian, said: “Though I am not happy that the Super Eagles are no longer in the Nations Cup, I am happy that the team I supported because of Salah won today. I am a Liverpool fan and that is why I have to support Egypt…this is applicable to every Liverpool fans.”
Oladipupo said he chose to watch the game at the centre because “it is cool out here and also there is no light anywhere in the area. Even if there was light, I will still prefer to watch it here. I always love to watch football with people to see how they respond during anxious moments,” he said.
Another fan, Oluwafemi Idris, said he did not support any of the two teams, adding that he came to watch good football and learn because as a footballer, it will help him to improve his game.
“I love watching the big screen made available by the government. As a footballer, the screen is big enough for me to watch and learn new skills. I would have loved Nigeria to be still part of this AFCON, but since they are out that does not stop me from coming here to watch games.
“I had thought the state government would discontinue after the ouster of the Eagles, but I am glad the centres are still alive till the end of the competition. For this, I will give kudos to the state government.
“Also, aside making the viewing centres available to Lagosians at different venues, we want the government to also provide jobs for the masses. My brother, things are hard and people are going through rough times. Tell Governor Sanwo-Olu to come to the aid of the downtrodden. The viewing centres are okay, but what the people want also is something that will engage them and put food on the tables,” he stated.
Matches continue today as Gambia take on Cameroun and Burkina Faso battle with Tunisia. The matches will be shown live at the viewing centres at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere; Campos Mini Stadium, Lagos Island; Abesan playground; Ajeromi Central Nursery & Primary School, Ajegunle; Bishop Aggrey Youth Centre, Mushin; Epe Recreation Centre; Badagry Grammar School, Badagry; Agege Stadium Agege; Mobolaji Johnson Sports Centre, Rowe Park, Yaba; Italewa, Ikorodu to be supervised by the Lagos State Sports Commission.