Nationwide Stadium; a Story of Monumental Waste

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It was happenstance that Nigeria was chosen to host the second version of Al Africa Video games after the success of the maiden version in Brazzaville, Congo, in 1965. Mali was the unique host, however that nation’s navy, led by Moussa Traoe, on November 19, 1968 dislodged President Modibo Keita from energy. The organizer of the multi-sport competitors, the supreme council for sports activities in Africa was plunged into confusion when sports activities of the coup made information headlines internationally. It was disastrous for the physique, particularly because it appeared the new child child was going to die in infancy.

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Nigeria began pulling her weight instantly after gaining political independence in 1960. It didn’t come as a shock when then-Head of State, Basic Yakubu Gowon, agreed to host the video games in 1971. However the nation had no facility to host a multi-sport occasion. Moreover, the Nigeria Civil Battle was ongoing. Then the concept of constructing what would later be generally known as the Nationwide Stadium within the Surulere space of Lagos got here up. The stadium was in-built 1972 and it opened a door to success in sport for Nigeria. The next 12 months, Nigeria hosted the All African Video games on the new stadium. Egypt gained the competitors with 25 gold, 16 silvers and 15 bronze medals. Nigeria got here second with 18 gold, 25 silver and 20 bronze medals.

Nigeria’s 2-Zero defeat of guinea within the closing of the soccer competitors held on the final day (January 18, 1973) of the Video games, with 60,000 followers watching from stands, was the icing on the cake. Sunny Oyarekhua rating each objectives for Nigeria.Nigeria additionally hosted the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations soccer competitors between March Eight and 22, enjoying alongside Egypt, Ivory Coast and Tanzanian Group A. The nationwide soccer staff, then generally known as the Inexperienced Eagles, performed their matches on the Nationwide Stadium whereas group B groups, Algeria, Ghana and Guinea performed theirs on the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan. About 85,000 followers watched from the stands throughout the closing match (March, 22 1980) of the match between Nigeria and Algeria on the nationwide stadium. Two first-half objectives from Segun Odegbami and a second –half strike by Muda Lawal (deceased) helped the Inexperienced Eagles to win the elite African match for the primary time since its inception in Sudan in 1957.The stadium turned a fortress of a kind for the Inexperienced Eagles (now Tremendous Eagles), with quite a lot of gamers strolling off the sector after matches as heroes and others as villains down the years.

Actually, the likes of Christian Chukwu, Thompson Usiyen, Sunny Oyarekhua, Segun Odegbami, Muda Lawal, Alloysius Atuebu, Henry Nwosu, Stephen Keshi (deceased), Austin Okocha and Rashidi Yekini (deceased) turned cult heroes whereas enjoying on the stadium. After internet hosting a collection of main competitions after the 190 Africa Cup of Nations, the Nationwide Stadium drew world consideration when it was designated as the principle venue for the 1999 FIFA undr-20 World Cup. liberty Stadium, Ibadan, Nnamdi Aizikiwe stadium Enugu, liberation stadium, Port Harcourt, Sani Abacha Stadium, kano , U.J Esuene Stadium, Bauchi, had been different venues for the world Cup.

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The federal authorities spent tens of millions of naira to get the soccer subject stands, media heart and dressing room on the Nationwide Stadium prepared for the match. The then FIFA vice-president, Jack Warner, hailed the nation for creating the Eight Surprise of the world fixing a fully appalling pitch on the stadium to earn the worlds soccer governing physique’s closing nod to host  the 24-nation match. Additionally, the Tremendous Eagles performed their qualifying (house) matches for each the Tunisia ’94 Africa Cu of Nations and US’94 Worlds Cup on the stadium.

Nigeria progressed to turn into African champions for the second time on the Stade EL Menzah in Tunis, Tunisia on April 10, 1994. On the similar time, the nation certified for the World Cup for the primary time. On the earth cup qualifying closing spherical, the Eagles gained their two house fixtures on the stadium, after surviving Algeria’s hazard man, Abdelhafid Tasfaout’s fifth minute strike to beat the Desert Foxes 4-1 on July 3, 1993. Nigeria’s Austin Okocha opened the scoring after 12 minutes and Rashuidi Yekini grabbed a brace earlier than Daniel Amokachi accomplished the present within the 88th minute.

The eagles ran out 4-1 winners in opposition to Ivory Coast on the venue, with 65,000 followers in attendance on September 25, 19993 to spice up USA qualification hopes. Nigeria wanted a draw in opposition to Algeria in Algiers to succeed in USA ’94. The Eagles ultimately returned house with the ticket after battling the North Africans to a 1-1 draw on the stade 5 Juillet 1962 in October 8, 1993. When Nigeria co-hosted the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations with their bitter rivals Ghana, the Nationwide Stadium was introduced again into the highlight. Zimbabwe has initially gained the internet hosting rights for the match, however the confederation of Africa Soccer dropped the Southern African nation after it didn’t adjust to its specs for the championship. The federal authorities once more spent tens of millions of naira to renovate the stadium, forward of the competitors, which was the 22nd version of the continental finals. The Eagles, who had been housed in Group D alongside Tunisia, Congo and Morocco on the Nationwide Stadium, gained two of their matches, shedding one. They beat Tunisia 4-2 within the different opener, drew 0-Zero with Congo of their second fixture, earlier than beating Morocco 2-Zero of their final group match. Nigeria and Senegal 2-1 within the second spherical, subdued 1996 African Champions South Africa 2-Zero within the semifinals earlier than shedding 4-Three on penalties to their perennial nemesis Cameroon within the closing of the match on the Nationwide Stadium with over 60,000 followers in attendance. The final main soccer match on the stadium was the four-nation 2004 LG Cup. Senegal gained the competitors after beating Nigeria 1-Zero within the closing, Jordan and Libya had been the opposite groups within the match.

Ever since, the stadium has been in a sorry state. The hallowed turf the place nice video games had been performed up to now is I a horrible state in the mean time. The seats and tartan tracks are crying for substitute. The media heart is an eyesore. The stadium advanced is simply alive with exercise at present due to the merchants, joggers, restaurateurs and space boys in addition to youth soccer groups and fight sport golf equipment who hold on the market. Barcelona legend Xavi and Actual Madrid hero, Iker Casillas, who stepped into the highlight after serving to Spain win the 1999 FIFA under-20 Worlds Cup on the stadium, will almost bounce out their skins, in the event that they had been to play or watch a match there. Other than unhealthy pitch and dilapidated constructions, they may see a distinct dressing room. Ex-Barcelona star, Seydou Kita, who helped Mali to a third-place within the match on the identical pitch, can even be shocked. Keita emerged as the perfect participant of the match that featured Brazilian famous person Ronaldinho, Diego Forlan (Uruguay) Ashley Cole (England), Peter Crouch (England) and Simao (Portugal).

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In the meantime, Henry Nwosu and Mutiu Adepoji have discovered recollections o the Nationwide Stadium the place they performed nice matches for Nigeria. Younger Nwosu watched from the bench hen Segun Odegbami impressed the Eagles to a 3-Zero victory over Algeria within the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations on the stadium. He progressed to captain the nationwide staff and helped the staff to win vital matches. The Cote d’Ivoire ’84 and Maroc  ’88 Africa Cup of Nations silver medalist is saddened by the state of the turf on the stadium the place his abilities made him many followers’ favourite for years. “I began enjoying on that pitch within the 1970s. I began as a ball boy and later performed many vital matches there. It’s unlucky that the stadium has been deserted through the years. I’m very unhappy about it. Then we performed the ultimate of the African Cup of Nations, the stadium was absolutely packed. Despite that, many individuals had been nonetheless struggling to return in. even matches are performed there these days, you don’t see many followers. It’s unhappy,” the previous New Nigerian Financial institution F C star mentioned, in a phone interview with our correspondent. Nwosu, who represented Nigeria on the Moscow Olympic Video games in 1980, lamented that many public amenities had been left to rot away on account of an absence of upkeep. Calling on the Federal Authorities to repair the stadium instantly in order to allow the Tremendous Eagles play a few of their matches there, he mentioned, “I assist the choice to maneuver the nationwide soccer staff around the nation to play their matches. It should give followers throughout the nation the chance to look at the staff, however then nationwide stadium should be deserted.”

Adepoju, who helped Nigeria to win the 1994 cup of Nations and attain the second spherical of the USA ‘World Cup (the Eagles made their first look on the finals within the USA version), additionally famous that the stadium current state is saddening.“I really feel as a result of it is a stadium I can always remember. The recollections nonetheless linger and I’m proud to have performed there. The followers usually chanted our names and that helped to ginger u to win matches”. My final match on the stadium was the ultimate if the Ghana-Nigeria 2000 Africa Cup of Nations. I used to be on the stadium final 12 months and I used to be not pleased with what I noticed. It is vitally unhappy”, he mentioned. The ex-Spain-based midfielder, popularly referred to as Headmaster, who represented Nigeria on the France ’98 World Cup, appealed to the Federal Authorities to place the stadium in a good condition. “It’s a nationwide monument that should be revived,” he mentioned.

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