5 Best Football Moments in Nigerian History - from Paul Bassey

 Paul Bassey, a renowned sports journalist and FIFA match commissioner, takes a look at some of the best football moments that brought joy and celebrations in Nigeria. Bassey is an insider in sports matters and he may have seen it all from early 80s’ when things began to happen for Nigerian football, to the period they call the golden era from 1981 - 1998. He selected five great matches among the several football moments that may be special to us as individuals.

“The Loudest Up crow in Nigeria” (1980 African Cup of Nations’ Finals): It was like the whole Nigeria shouted at once; apart from over 75, 000 spectators that forced themselves into the 55, 000 capacity national stadium Surulere, for the 12th edition of Africa cup of nations’ finals: Nigeria Vs Algeria.

In just 21 minutes into the match, the in-form Segun Odegbami broke off a solo run from the right wing and whipped a powerful low shot into the net – Nigeria came alive!

The match ended 3 - 0 against Algeria and became the first major championship Nigeria ever won. Odegbami scored a brace and Musa Lawal added the third at 88 minutes of the match. Celebration broke out all over Nigeria and for more than three days, Nigerians were partying all night along Ojuelegba and the stadium line were at the thick of the action - live band and highlife music played on loud speakers for several days non-stop.

“Come and See American Wonder” (Atlanta 96 Olympics Men Soccer Semi-finals): The whole Nigeria went agog after a sudden-death (Golden Goal) by Nwankwo Kanu, shot Nigeria into the Olympics finals. It was a come from behind to 4 – 3 victory over a stunned Brazil.

Earlier in the match, Flavio scored 2 goals and Bebeto 1. It seem to have the Brazilian headed to a finals against South American rival Argentina. And the coach decided to substitute players like Ronaldo and Rivaldo out for the finals.

Instead, a crowd of 78, 587 at Stanford stadium saw Nigeria’s Dream team who trailed 3 – 1 at half time and also missed a penalty kick, come back strong near the end with two goals in 14 minutes, scored by victor Ikpeba and Kanu, took the game to extra time and rest was history.

Nigeria celebrated all night long. There were burn fire set up in major roads and drinking bar that had closed for the day re-opened to serve the awaken fans.

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