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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

NIGERIA @53

Nigeria is one of the most gifted and blessed countries in Africa in term of human and natural resources, due to the large population most of the youth have taken into football as their major profession.
Nigeria though diversed in culture, language and tradition is united in sports, in particular Football.
In the world Nigeria is rated high as a football loving nation having over a million of European football club fan base with the English premier league getting a larger share of that support/follower-ship.
Nigeria as a country though then under the British colony started playing football in the early 1930s but played its first official game in October 1949 since then has grown into a force in African football and in the world at large.

The Nigeria male football team popularly known as the Super Eagles are currently ranked 28th in the world by the coca cola FIFA football ranking.

Since the emergence of Nigeria in the ever growing world of soccer, the country has experienced its own share of ups and downs.
In 1989 it lost a member of the then Green Eagles in  the person of Samuel Okwaraji who died of congestive heart failure in the 77th minutes of a world cup qualifying match against Angola at the national stadium surelere Lagos Nigeria.
In 1996 the then Head of state General Sani Abacha banned the Super Eagles from participating at the 2006 African cup of nations held in South Africa even after the team won the previous edition in 1994.
In 2010 due to a poor outing at the 2010 FIFA World cup the current president Goodluck Jonthan banned Nigeria from international football for two years, but the ban was eventually lifted after some few weeks.
On August 2013, the Nigeria local league announced the clinching of a historical N5.4billion four year television deal with south African sports channel Super Sports. A deal which the league so badly needed.
Nigerian football may not be as successful as those of Brazil, Italy, Spain and maybe France, but it surely have many things to be boastful about.
In 1994, Nigeria ranked 5th in the world. The highest ranking achieved by an African football team.
1980 captain Christian Chukwu in the company of John Chiedozie, Tunji Banju and Muda Lawal won the country's first ever African cup of nations.
In 1984 and 1988 Nigeria reached the African cup of nations final loosing both times to cameroon.
Nigeria went for its first ever FIFA world cup in 1994 led by Clemens Westerhof finishing top of the group behind Argentina, Bulgaria and Greece, but were eventually knocked out by Italy in the round of 16.
Four years later(1998) the Super Eagles returned again for the second consecutive FIFA world cup but this time in France full of confidence after an incredible comeback to defeat Spain 3 - 2 in their first group match, having qualified for the second round, Nigeria were knocked out by Denmark who handed the Eagles a memorable defeat of 4 - 1.
Nigeria soon became a dominant force in Africa as it qualified for its third straight FIFA world cup in 2002, where they finished bottom of the group behind, England, Sweden and Argentina. They also participated in the 2010 World cup which was the first to be hosted in Africa.
The inability of Nigerian to win the African cup of Nation since the introduction of the FIFA Confederations cup meant that the country didn't participate in any edition of the tournament not until 2013 when it clinched its third Nations cup trophy in South Africa thanks to a wonder goal by Sunday Mba and went on to represent Africa in the just concluded Brazil 2013 edition of the Confederations cup where they couldn't qualify for the semi final stage owing to defeats from Uruguay and Spain respectively.
Despite that, Nigeria has won the Africa Cup of Nations 3 times (19801994 and most recently, 2013). They have been runners-up four times (198419881990, and 2000). They have finished in third place seven times, including four times recently (200220042006, and 2010). On 10 February 2013 they beat the Stallions of Burkina Faso to lift the Africa Cup of Nations for the third time. This was the first time a Nigerian coach, Stephen Keshi the captain of the 1994 AFCON champions, would lead the Super Eagles to Cup success.
Since after her independence in October 1 1960 Nigeria has changed her National team coach for a record of 37 times with coaches such as Karl - Heinz Martotzte, Otto Gloria, Jo Bonfere, Festus Onigbinde, Shaibu Amodu and Augustine Eguavoen taking charge more than once.
In its 53 years as in independent nation, Nigeria has produced a long list of fine footballers who have gone to crest their names in the footballing hall of fame, most notable include; Nwankwo Kanu, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Celestine Babayaro, Segun Odegbami, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, Daniel Amokachi, Victor Ikepa, Taribo West, Sunday Oliseh, Christian Chukwu, Peter Rufai, Ike Shorunmu, Joseph Yobo and more recently, Onazi, Mikel Obi, Emmanuel Emenike, Sunday Mba, Victor Moses and the host of others.
As Nigeria mark her 53 anniversary as an independent nation, the future of Nigeria football looks as bright as never before as the country prepares to play the final phase of the 2014 world cup qulification match against Ethopia.
Below is the list of invited players for that clash shuduled for October 11 2013.
GKVincent Enyeama29 August 1982 (age 31)850France Lille
GKAustin Ejide8 April 1984 (age 29)270Israel Hapoel Be'er Sheva
GKChigozie Agbim28 November 1984 (age 28)50Nigeria Enugu Rangers
DFUwa Elderson Echiéjilé20 January 1988 (age 25)362Portugal Braga
DFEfe Ambrose18 October 1988 (age 24)311Scotland Celtic
DFGodfrey Oboabona16 August 1990 (age 23)271Turkey Rizespor
DFAzubuike Egwuekwe28 November 1988 (age 24)170Nigeria Warri Wolves
DFSolomon Kwambe30 September 1993 (age 20)40Nigeria Sunshine Stars
DFJames Okwuosa14 September 1990 (age 23)20South Africa Chippa United
DFFrancis Benjamin2 January 1993 (age 20)20Nigeria Heartland
MFMikel John Obi (Captain)22 April 1987 (age 26)524England Chelsea
MFAhmed Musa14 October 1992 (age 20)335Russia CSKA Moscow
MFSunday Mba28 November 1988 (age 24)195Nigeria Enugu Rangers
MFOgenyi Onazi25 December 1992 (age 20)151Italy Lazio
MFNnamdi Oduamadi17 October 1990 (age 22)104Italy Brescia
MFNosa Igiebor9 November 1990 (age 22)102Spain Real Betis
MFJohn Ugochukwu20 April 1988 (age 25)91Portugal Académica
FWVictor Obinna25 March 1987 (age 26)4611Russia Lokomotiv Moscow
FWBrown Ideye10 October 1988 (age 24)215Ukraine Dynamo Kyiv
FWEmmanuel Emenike10 May 1987 (age 26)178Turkey Fenerbahçe
FWVictor Moses12 December 1990 (age 22)145England Liverpool
FWUche Nwofor17 September 1991 (age 22)42Netherlands Heerenveen
FWShola Ameobi
We wish all Nigerian a happy Independence day celebration. God bless Nigeria!!!

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