By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, Nigeria
October 1, 1960 was an epochal and important day for Nigeria and Nigerians being the date of the nation’s Independence. Since 1960, Nigeria have witnessed ups and downs in sports making it imperative to look back a the good moments in Nigeria’s sports history.
Nigeria won her first Olympic medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in Japan four (4) years after Independence when Nojim Mayegun won a bronze medal in men’s light middleweight boxing.
MEMORABLE CLUB GLORIES
1976 and 1977 saw the country tasting victories in continental championships through IICC Shooting Stars and Rangers International of Enugu in the Cup Winners Cup Competition.
FIRST AFCON TRIUMPH
The country’s sports record of achievements continued in the 1980s with series of achievements especially in football. The bronze medals won in 1976 and 1978 in the African Cup of Nations was improved upon in 1980. The Christian Chukwu led Green Eagles won the Cup for the first time in Lagos.
— The NFF 🇳🇬 (@thenff) October 1, 2019
INAUGURAL U17 TRIUMPH
Nigeria’s under-17 football team also went to China and conquered the world in the first ever FIFA under-17 World Cup on August 11, 1985. The victory took Nigerian football to a high pedestal, setting the stage for a respect of Nigeria in international competitions.
MORE OLYMPICS SUCCESS
Nigerian athletes participated at the 1990 Commonwealth games in Auckland, New Zealand and did marvellously well, winning five gold, 13 silver and seven bronze medals. A tremendous improvement from previous outings.
With the euphoria of the 1990 Commonwealth Games, the country stormed the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992 and again there was an improvement from previous records. The quartet of Olapade Adenikan, Chidi Imoh, Kayode Oluyemi and Davidson Ezinwa won silver in the 4 x 100m, while the women led by Mary Onyali captured the bronze medal in the same event. Two Nigerian boxers also won silver medals. It was a moment of joy for all Nigerians. Football in the 90’s took Nigeria to greater heights.
SECOND U17 TRIUMPH
For the second time, Nigeria won the FIFA under -17 championship making her the only country to achieve such feats on September 4, 1993. In a world of football giants like Brazil, Italy, Germany and Argentina, the feat of the Golden Eaglets and Nigeria was indeed spectacular.
DEBUT WORLD CUP AND AFCON SUCCESS
In 1994, Super Eagles of Nigeria (Nigeria Senior Football team) won the African Cup of Nations for the second time and also qualified for the first time to represent Africa in a senior World Cup and did it in grand style. She became the first country to win her first World Cup match and the first to advance beyond the first round in her first attempt. Although the Eagles lost in the second round to Roberto Baggio’s Italy, they had stunned the world and Nigerian stars have become the toast of big football clubs all over the world.
WONDERFUL ATLANTA 96 OLYMPICS
Nigeria made Olympic football history by becoming the first African and non-European and South American team to win the gold medal at Atlanta 1996 Olympics Games in USA. Chioma Ajunwa also won the gold medal in women Long Jump event at the 196 Olympics rounding up a successful outing for the country at the International event.
In 2003 and 2004 football season, Enyimba International Football Club of Aba, Nigeria made history by becoming the first football club in Nigeria to win the CAF Champions League back to back in 2003 and 2004.
The Golden Eaglets (Nigeria’s Under 17 football team) won their third World title at the 2007 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Korea.
In 2013, the Super Eagles of Nigeria won her third African Cup of Nations by beating Burkina Faso 1-0 in South Africa. The Nigeria Under 17 team also won her 4th FIFA Under 17 World Cup in grand style. During this period, the Super Falcons (Nigeria Senior famale football team) continued their dominance in Africa and still unable to extent such dominance to world stage as their performance at FIFA Women’s World Cup remain a fiasco save for the Under 20 side that were able to make it to the final of the FIFA Under 20 World Cup twice.
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