Why Nigerian fans didn’t celebrate the Eagles


By Seun Sanni

I read a post on this blog, www.naijafootball247.com on Keshi disappointing Nigerians again and one thing caught my eye where you mentioned the fact that fans did not celebrate the Super Eagles win over the Ivory Coast like in times past.

In all honesty the match wasn’t a cracker, but Nigeria did well to get a result.

Personally I didn’t expect to see people jumping around because the team played exceptionally well, No! But they were effective on the night.

Comparing the nonchalant attitude of fans towards the Super Eagles could be traced as far back as the World Cup in France 98 when Nigerians were all in support of their team no matter who the coach/technical adviser was.

Nigeria did well to win their first 2 games against Spain and Bulgaria then drawing their final group match against Paraguay, this didn’t matter as it was enough to qualify us out of the group.

Who would not celebrate such a success? Not only were they winning they were doing it in style and commitment, they were ready to die for the country, they wore the national team’s jersey with pride, and then the unexpected happened.

The players “forgot” they had to play Denmark before qualifying for the quarter finals to play Brazil and all the talk was about playing Brazil, while the Danish national team studied their opponents ,we talked about playing the Brazilian National Team.

It was not surprising to the neutral that Denmark trashed us 4-1 ,even though we created 3 goal scoring opportunities in the first 10minutes but Nwankwo Kanu  did “well” to squander those chances and left all guessing what might have been if we have converted those chances, anyway that was fourteen years ago.

Roll back the years, 4 before France 98, Nigeria were African champions and 5th in the world (according to the FIFA ranking) and who dares criticize the success of such a team?

That wonderful Sunday afternoon in Tunis, when Emmanuel Amuneke became Nigeria’s hero, I watched as people trooped to the streets to celebrate the success of the team.

My parents wouldn’t let me go out but the street was agog with celebrations, the team came back paraded Lagos city with the late business tycoon MKO Abiola, I saw them pass the back of my house, the joy of seeing successful people, making feel you can be one is enough to celebrate them over and over again.

Fast forward 2 years on we did not attend the 96 edition of the Cup of Nations held in South Africa due to “political” reasons, however Nigeria was at it again, this time it was the Olympics and we had beaten Brazil in the semi-finals after coming down from a 3-1 deficit to qualify for the final.

Beating Brazil was enough to get Nigerians back on the streets celebrating their known and not too know heroes. Again Nigeria did well against all odds beating Argentina in the finals of the men’s football category at the Atlanta 96 Olympics, who again scored the winner? Emmanuel Ammuneke.

It was late in the night, I was in Kano then, my first chance of seeing the response of Nigerians in the north to a Super Eagles victory.

These fans who had celebrated the SE were used to winning and at least loved to see their SE go down with a fight.

The Great disappointment came in 2000 on home soil when Nigeria co-hosted the Nations cup with Ghana losing the final on penalty to Cameroun ,after coming back from a 2goal deficit in the first half.

I remember how people had planned to celebrate the win; the national stadium in Lagos was filled up, some fans turned back at the gate.

Nigerians left the stadium not knowing how to react to the home loss, a great loss it turned out to be as it took out the steam in the fans, afterwards the National stadium became a hostile ground to the SE, they were constantly booed in the National stadium, fans lost faith in the team too quickly, the generation that once celebrated the SE with dancing and signing on the streets was fast fading away, they lost interest in the Eagles’ games, whether on TV or at home, as time passed the tradition of celebrating on the street gradually faded away, no one to pass it to the coming generation, the present “young” fans of the Super Eagles have never celebrated a trophy of any kind local or international.

I say it’s not too late, Sunday the 10th of February 2013 gives our generation another chance to show them how it’s done, how we have been doing the rumba. That is If the Super Eagles win hopefully.
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