This piece was inspired by the SUPER EAGLES victory against CHIPOLOPOLO OF ZAMBIA in last world cup qualifier match played at Uyo Township Stadium, Akwa Ibom State.
I remember those days when there were less or no football viewing centers, those days when our football spirit has not been possessed by demon of foreign footballs, those days when we were all loyal to our National team and follow her matches like religion doctrines, those days when the roads would looked like desert and virtually all shops would be locked because our national team SUPER EAGLES was playing.
Those days, when just like Muslims who can worship at any mosque, we have freedom without sense of fear or trepidation to watch our darling Eagles at any place her matches met us. Those days when our ears would glued to radio transistors just to keep up with live commentaries of any our national teams especially *SUPER EAGLES* actions. Those days when people out of sheer patriotism would bring out their box-like black and white T.V Set connected to vehicle’s battery so that we can all cheer our Eagles to victory against any opponent. Those days, when football usually privileged us to enter the parlour of many of our dads whom their rooms are like military barrack due to their disciplinarian and regimented style of living. Those days when young kids can leverage on Super Eagles 90minutes engagement to evade punishment of coming late from errands even though he was doing something else in his own will.
I am missing those days…. Being a football lover right from my young age, I knew by heart with their individual jersey number all the names of national teams players of late 90’s…. The generation of Sunday Olishe, Etim Essin, Finidi George, Mutiu Adepoju (Headmaster), Daniel Amokachi (Da Bull), The iron defender Pastor Taribo West, Rashidi Yekinni (Goals Machine), Ben Iroha, Joseph Dosu, Ike Shorumu, Peter Rufai, Austin Jay Jay Okocha (The magician), Samson Siasia, Nwankwo Kanu (Papillo), Victor Ikpeba, Tijani Babangida, Garba Lawal, John Chukwudi Utaka, Joseph Yobo, Efetebore Sodje (Bandana Man), Pius Ikedia, Celestine Babayaro, the acrobat king Julius Efosa Aghahowa and host of other heroes who had made us proud with their talents and feet.
I can never forget our historical comeback against the almighty star studded Brazilian national team at Atlanta 1996, our outings at France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002, our African Nations Cup performances at: Tunisia 2004 when Okocha was the man of the tournament, Mali 2002, Nigeria 2000 when we lost to Cameron at our home soil in Lagos and many other important matches we played during these golden periods.
How would I forget the Dutcherian Clement Westerhorf, the disciplinarian Adegboye Onigbinde, the pot belly Christian Chukwu, the late Shuaibu Amodu and other handlers of our darling Super Eagle during those days?
I can never forget the euphoria of gold medals at Atlanta 96, the pain of losing to Denmark at France 98 after we had defeated Spain to advance to knockout stage, the sorrow of losing to Cameron on penalty shootouts in Nigeria/Cameron 2000, the early morning defeats in hands of Argentina and Sweden during 2002 World Cup, the agony of our dear Eagles in hand of Senegal at Mali 2002 before we pounced on the host nation to win third place, the Okocha moment, that incredible last minute of the first half free kick at Tunisia 2004 against our long time rival (the indomitable lion of Cameron) and the eventual loss to host nation, again, on shootouts before another third place victory against Mali (Customer Daadaa Ni).
Today, our recolonization by the White men via their football clubs leagues is eclipsing these sweet memories, what we have today as football patriotism and loyalty is not to our national team but to European clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona, Madrid, Juventus, PSG and others.
Their UEFA Champions League outings and domestic victories are taking the space of Super Eagle histories in our heart. The Manchester derby between United and City, the London derby between Gunners and Blues, the El-Classico derby between Madrid and Barcelona, _the intrigues of rivalry and supremacy battles between Man Utd against Arsenal or against Liverpool, Chelsea or that of Catalona and Galaticos are today overshadowing the importance of why Nigeria must continue to beat rivals like Cameron, Egypt, South Africa, Ivory Coasts, and the likes.
Today, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Neymar Jnr, Paulo Dybala, Sergio Aguero, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and other foreign players are becoming our heroes while our own players look like amateurs in our view. Except there is an international break like that of this week, we prefer to watch our foreign clubs games over national teams matches.
I am also an accomplice to this loss of patriotism spirit being a staunch Manchester United fan, but it is not too late to retrace our steps which I shall start doing henceforth by renewing my support for the national teams. I am using this piece to appeal and urge fellow football loving Nigerians to also renew the love, support, loyalty, commitments and prayers for our national teams most especially the SUPER EAGLES because, the team remains one of our most important symbol of unity as we could see that Abdullahi Shehu (Northerner) united with Leon Balogun (Westerner) and Alex Iwobi (Southerner) to conquer the Zambian football national team in our quest to be represented in Russia 2018 world cup.
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Long Live Super Eagles