-By Olaseinde Lawson
Nigeria has had many successes in soccer from time immemorial. The brilliant performances in the field of soccer by legends like THUNDER TESILIMI BALOGUN, DAN ANYIAM, PATRICK NAKUAPOR, INUWA RIGOGO, SEGUN ODEGBAMI, EMMANUEL OKALA, ALOYTIUS ATUEGBU, RASHIDI YEKINI etc cannot be forgotten.
But the climax came in 1985 when the under 16 Super Eagles brought the world cup of that soccer category to Nigeria. The whole country stood for the super Eaglets they were received by the then Head of state General Muhammadu Buhari and his Deputy Brig. Gen Tunde Idiagbon. The squad included UGBADE (skipper) OKHONEDOH, BABAYARO, OGBEBOR, ANYAWU, BABANGIDA, ANOSIKE, OJIGWE, MOHAMMED, OPARAKU and others. It was Nigeria’s golden moment.
Earlier in 1973, Nigeria has won Gold medal in the 2nd. All Africa Games in Lagos. As if that was not enough Nigeria beat Algeria 3-0 to win the 12th African Nations cup at the National stadium Surulere. Then came the 1993 World cup qualifiers. Nigeria walopped the Desert Warriors of Algeria 4-1 in Lagos. That put the Eagles at par with Ivory Coast, who had played all their matches recording a total of 5 points. All the Eagles needed was a draw in Algeria, in their outstanding one match with 4 points. They got that on October 10, Nigeria qualified for the World cup on her eight attempt.
Now let us see what happened to Nigeria’s soccer in 1981.
January 3: sharks of Port Harcourt lost to the police of Senegal in the WAFU finals.
March 14: The flying Eagles lost the junior World cup match to the Cameroon side in Lagos.
Match 28: IICC of Ibadan were beaten by Botwana 2-1 in Ibadan.
May 9: IICC again lost 2-1 to Dynamos of Zimbabwe at the Liberty stadium.
May 16: Caps United of Zimbabwe beat Stationery Stores of Lagos 1-0
August 29: Water Corporation of Ibadan lost to A.S. of Senegal in Dakar.
October 10: The Green Eagle’s was humiliated by Algeria 2-0 in Lagos in a world cup qualifier.
October 26: Again Nigeria lost to Algeria 2-1 in a second leg match in their world cup match in Algiers.
November 18: Eleven Wise F.C. of Ghana Beat IICC of Ibadan 2-0 on their home ground.
December 5: Stationery Stores of Lagos lost 2-1 to union Douala of Cameroon in the final of the Africa cup winners cup competition.
Now the question is, was 1981 Nigeria’s worst year in FOOTBALL?
What do you say.