From the heavily endowed coast of Ghana, to the beautiful island of Mauritius, from the plains of Agadir to the Diamond handshakes in Paris, Nigerian sports in the last number of days have been nothing short of delight, glory and glamour.
The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria started their WAFU B U-17 championship journey in Ghana with a win over the host, the Black Satelite, completing a revenge against the Ghanaians who had denied inflicted pain on the Super Eagles during the World Cup Qualifying Playoff. This was followed with a win over Baby Hawks of Togo last Tuesday. The sheer zeal, determination, skill and talent put on display by the Nduka Ugbade-led side gives a lot of hope, as to the grassroot system, which has kept on producing world beaters across different generations. The Golden Eaglets will book their place at the 2023 U-17 AFCON if they surmount their semifinal hurdle against Cote D’Ivoire.
Just as the men’s cadet teams have been recording successes, the same fortunes have been the reality of the female teams. The country is witnessing a resurgence in youth football, as the unbridled passion of the Honourable Minister for Youth and Sports Development, has worked as a fossil fuel to drive youth development across all sports. In a short span of time, both Nigeria’s U-17 female team (Flamingos) and the U-20 team (Falconets) qualifed for their respective FIFA World Cup events in India and Costa Rica respectively. This represent a massive victory for the teams but also mirrors a bug boost to women’s football at the grassroot level. The Senior Women’s National Team are also on course for another continental glory which would also take them to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Also, in the last few days, the Men’s Senior National Team, Super Eagles recorded a historic win over Sao Tome and Principe in Agadir to create a new national record for the biggest win recorded by the Super Eagles. This came on the back of the Sports Minister, Hon. Sunday Dare charge to National Team Technical Adviser, Jose Peseiro that the rebuild of the Super Eagles must be done with all sense of commitment, dedication and zeal to restore the confidence of the nation on the team. Hon. Sunday Dare had received Peseiro upon his presentation, where he tasked him to ensure he returns the Super Eagles to the top, where it belongs, as Nigerians care so much about their football. With two wins out of as many, the Super Eagles are on track to qualify quite early to the 2023 AFCON to be staged in Cote D’Ivoire.
On the tracks and fields too, the African Senior Athletics Championship hosted by Mauritius witnessed a successful outing for Team Nigeria. Even with a host of senior absentees at the event, Nigeria finished third on the final table picking up 11 Medals (5 Gold, 3 Silver and 3 Bronze medals). Chuwkuebuka Enekwechi set a new championship record, while Oyesade Olatoye made history by winning Nigeria’s first gold medal in Women’s Hammer Throw.
Nigeria’s great sporting week saw a cherry added on the iced cake by a scintillating performance from OluwaTobiloba Amusan at the Diamond League in Paris. In the 100m Women’s Hurdles, Amusan ran an amazing 12.41s to break the nine month old African record she set in Zurich.
In his congratulatory message to Tobi the minister postulated that her success is yet another testament to Nigeria’s steady rising profile in sports.
The minister has also sent a message that all athletes who would represent Nigeria at the forth-coming World Athletics Championships in Oregon and Commonwealth Games ensure they put in their best to fly the flag of the nation high in Oregon and Birmingham respectively.
It has been a terrific week for sports in Nigeria, one would only believe that the country continues to rise to the zenith, amongst the comity to nations across all sporting spheres.
Kola Daniel Adesanju is the Special Assistant on Media to the Honourable Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare