Nigeria has participated in different sporting competitions across different levels and has recorded massive success, as well as unforgettable moments.
Being a football-obsessed nation, the sport is the most popular in the country so much so that in every nook and cranny of Nigeria, there are millions of passionate football fans who throw away whatever difference they have to collectively support Nigerian contingents at every Football competition.
Although Nigeria may not be able to boast of a trophy cabinet that’s full to the brim, she definitely can boast of some enviable footballing achievements in the committee of other African nations and to a larger extent, other nations of the world have participated in many football events locally and internationally and won medals in prestigious events.
So, it seems fitting that now, more than ever, we take a look at Nigeria’s top football achievements.
- FIFA U17 World Cup Record Winners
Nigeria’s success story at the FIFA U17 World Cup began in 1985. Incidentally, it was the maiden edition of the cadet world cup that was played in the far East nation, China. This was a tournament that earmarked Nigeria‘s dominance when it comes to the FIFA U17 World Cup. The team was captained by former international Nduka Ugbade.
The Golden Eaglets overcame Italy (who were favorites) in the final with a 2-0 victory with goals scored by Jonathan Akpoborie and Victor Igbinoba.
Right from that time, Nigeria has clinched the title on 4 different occasions (1993, 2007, 2013, and 2015) becoming the second team after Brazil to with it back to back and the first team ever to win the junior world cup five times.
Nigeria is the most successful nation in the tournament’s history, with five titles and three runners-up.
- AWCON Record Winners
Nigeria has won the African Cup Of Nations (AFCON) for a record of three times but in the female category, the Super Falcons are more than a force to reckon with.
The African Women Cup Of Nations (AWCON) is a biennial football competition that was first contested in the year 1991 but according to records, the tournament started as a perennial competition but changed to a biennial one when Nigeria hosted it in 1998.
Nigeria featured in the maiden edition of the AWCON in 1991 and emerged Champions consecutively for 7 straight editions. No country in Africa can beat this amazing record.
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The competition being a qualifying tournament for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, gave Nigeria the chance to feature at FIFA Women’s World Cup right from 1991.
Fast forward to today, The Super Falcons of Nigeria has clinched the AWCON for a record of 11 times with the recent one coming in 2018 after defeating South Africa in the final.
Also, the team is the only female national team from Africa to have reached the quarterfinals in both the FIFA Women’s World Cup and football at the Summer Olympics. This definitely is another enviable footballing achievement the giant of Africa possesses.
- Top Famous Footballers From Nigeria
Apparently, Nigeria’s greatest football success wouldn’t have come in without the real game-changers. A plethora of well-known footballers strikes a chord when Nigerian footballing talents come into the discussion. These include players, such as Jay-Jay Okocha, who graced the Premier League with his smooth skills and frills.
Two-time African footballer of the year Nwankwo Kanu was a reckoning force for clubs such as Ajax, Inter Milan, and Arsenal. Emmanuel Amuneke, Daniel Amokachi, Yakubu, Joseph Yobo, Obafemi Martins, Peter Odemwingie, and Mikel obi, Enyeama, Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi, are also names familiar to European football fans.
- First And Only African Nation To Have Hosted The FIFA U17 World Cup
Considering Nigeria’s success at the cadet level, NFF and Nigeria were handed the hosting rights of the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2009 and the tournament was successfully staged.
The Golden Eaglets paraded an amazing set of players which included Stanley Okoro (Little Messi), Abdul Jaleel Ajagun, Sani Emmanuel, Ogenyi Onazi, etc.
The John Obuh led Golden Eaglets were massive right from the group stage when they played a memorable 3-3 draw in the group’s opening game against Germany after coming back from a three-goal deficit.
However, the team lost in the finals by a lone goal to Switzerland scored via a header from Seferovic as it ended the young lad’s dream of hosting to win. The competition also gave birth to players who today are superstars for their clubs and countries. Players like Neymar, Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Mario Gotze, Granit Xhaka et all.
The wait for another African nation to host the 35-year-old football tournament has been on since then.
- 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games Triumph
The summer games in the United States was Nigeria’s best participation at the Olympics. Chioma Ajunwa had bagged the first gold medal with her jump of 7-12 meters in the track and field events. But the icing on the cake was when Jo Bonfrère led the Dream Team to a dramatic and unprecedented Olympic victory in the football category.
Nigeria scaled through North and Southern American opponents right from the quarter-finals, facing some tepid tests from the Latin boys. The Dream Team qualified as the second-best team after Brazil in the group that had Japan and Hungary too. Two unreplied goals were enough to make Nigeria stroll past Mexico in the quarter-final.
But in the Semifinal, they faced a tougher test as the Brazilians completely dominated right from the blast of the kick-off whistle.
Flavio Conceição netted in the very first minute but a Roberto Carlos own goal leveled things for Nigeria in the 20th minute. Eight minutes after, Bebeto found the back of the net again and in the 38th minute, Flavio Conceição again netted his second in the game which made it a frustrating first half for the Nigerian giant.
After the break, the Brazilians kept on asking the questions but in the 78th minute, Victor Ikpeba pulled one back for Nigeria and his goal brought back hope for the Dream Team. In the 90th minute, Kanu Nwankwo leveled the game for Nigeria. His goal ensured that Nigeria would have to fight to finish against the Samba Boys of Brazil in the extra time.
At exactly ninety-four minutes, Kanu once again found the back of the net and to the surprise of the 78,587 spectators inside the Sanford Stadium in Athens as well as the Spanish referee, Garcia Aranda, Nigeria had completed one of the most dramatic comebacks in football at that time.
Back then, the golden goal was used to determine the winner of the game and since Nigeria was the first team to score in the extra time, they were declared the winner. Are you not trying to say that’s a final before final, Yes it was.
But that wasn’t all, The Dream Team completed a hat-trick of victories when they faced Argentina in the final. Claudio Lopez drew the first blood in the 3rd minute which was a Deja Vu for the opposition, Nigeria.
Celestine Babayaro equalized for Nigeria in the 28 minutes but Hernán Crespo scored again from the spot just five minutes after the first half break to make it 2-1. Daniel Amokachi also leveled things again in the 78th minute before Emmanuel Amuneke put the final nail on the coffin in the 90th minute.
The win against Argentina confirmed the Dream team as the first and only African nation to bag a gold medal in the football category at the Olympics. After 1996, Nigeria has clinched the Silver Medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the bronze medal at the Rio De Janeiro Olympics in 2016 in Brazil.
FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of FIFA Women’s World Cup™
Council assigns FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosting decision to the football governing body’s Congress; also approves financial statements for 2020 and budget for 2022.
Meeting by video conference, the Council conferred to the Congress the decision to award Women’s World Cup™ hosting rights.
Until now, the decision has been taken by the FIFA Council, most recently in June 2020 when the hosting rights for the 2023 edition were awarded to Australia and New Zealand.
As the football governing body seeks to raise the profile of the women’s game, this represents a significant step to bring the Women’s World Cup in line with the flagship men’s competition.
The proposal will be put forward for a final decision by the 71st FIFA Congress, which will meet virtually (for the second time) on 21 May.
International match calendar and release of players.
The FIFA Council received a report on the international football situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of the Council had extended to April 2021 the temporary amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players regarding the release of players for international duty, and FIFA, the confederations, and its member associations remain in dialogue with national authorities about exemptions from quarantine rules for national team players.
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The FIFA Council recognized that the highest priority in football is the health of the players, and therefore the discussion around the release of players for international duty must maintain this perspective, especially as the public health situation develops around the world.
2020 financials and 2022 budget
The Council also approved the organization’s Annual Report, which contains the financial statements for 2020 and the budget for 2022.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 focuses on the role played by world football’s governing body in the fight against COVID-19, primarily through the unprecedented COVID-19 Relief Plan, which has made available USD 1.5 billion to support FIFA’s 211 member associations and the confederations through times of financial uncertainty.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 is available on the official site.
FIFA Arab Cup 2021™
The Council approved the competition regulations for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, confirming the match schedule and draw procedure for the competition taking place in Qatar from 1 to 18 December this year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Paul Onuachu: A Victim Of Tactical Deficiency
Ever wondered why Genk forward Paul Onuachu has always been a prolific figure for his club and find it hard to replicate that form with the Super Eagles when invited?
The Nigeria international has been in awesome form for the Blue-White, scoring 26 goals in the Jupiler League this season for Genk, while his scoring prowess at his club has been a contrast to his form with the national team under Gernot Rohr scoring just once in 9 games despite being a top performer at club level.
Ahead of the AFCON qualifier doubleheader against Lesotho and the Benin Republic, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr named his 23 man list with the inform former Midtjylland forward listed as one of the standby players.
Onuachu’s struggles with the Super Eagles in previous games he featured is quite baffling, considering the excitement that greeted his first appearance with the national team plus the impressive form he’s currently in.
The job of every manager is to find a suitable position or fashion out tactics that would be suitable for their players in other to blend with the team approaches to every match. In Onuachu’s case, he hasn’t been fortunate enough to blend in with Rohr’s tactics. While at club level, Midtjylland plays to his strength.
However, due to Napoli’s players been restricted from traveling, the Genk forward made it through the backdoor to replace Gernot Rohr’s number one forward Victor Osimhen who hasn’t really hit the ground running with the ‘Partenopei‘, but when with the Eagles, he never fails to deliver.
It’s no doubt that the lanky striker has failed to deliver in his previous games, disappointing the ever-demanding Nigerian football enthusiasts with unforgiving backlashes from the fans. However, his prolific prowess with his club suggests otherwise and consistently makes a case for him to be integrated into the team with a different tactical approach that suits his style.
The era of a target man may have been long gone in football due to the advent of new tactics that have brought about a series of changes in the game. With managers preferring to go with a fast, skillful, or makeshift winger- kind of striker, instead of a target man.
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Looking at how Paul Onuachu plays with Genk upfront shows he’s one of the best target men in football, despite been perceived by many as a slow and old-fashioned kind of forward. However, John van den Bromm has been able to carve out a tactic that suits him which has been evident with his prolific form irrespective of his style of play.
Onuachu’s Super Eagle future might be on the knife-edge with Gernot Rohr not finding the right tactics that suit the Genk forward, especially with him not been consider as the go-to man despite his blistering runs of form in Belgium.
In recent times Rohr’s philosophy of vibrant attacking football with an emphasis on passing in the final third which requires the expertise of brilliant players to implement such tactics hasn’t really favored him.
Having a player in the mold of Onuachu gives Rohr another tactical option and an alternative style of play should the initial approach fails to work as expected, but the German tactician hasn’t really taken advantage of what the man could offer with a different opponent.
Onuachu’s presence in the Super Eagles team should be an added advantage in terms of variety when the normal approach of the manager fails. With an in-form striker on the bench, it could prove valuable, but in the former Midtjylland’s case, Gernot Rohr doesn’t seem to see him as a player that has a future with the national team.
Players in the mold of the Nigerian are quite physically imposing as the point man, though they may not offer the team excellent off-the-ball movement in some cases. However, they often find a way to provide an opportunity which the team could utilize when attacking or defending.
Onuachu’s inability to show a good turn of pace and smart footwork may have been one of the deficiencies that are affecting his chances of blending perfectly into the team.
However, the job of a manager is to help players blend in perfectly, and that’s exactly what Gernot Rohr should be doing. Not only for Onuachu but for every other player who are always finding it hard to replicate club form with the National Team.