I have to say, that I cannot remotely imagine being a mother who received word 2 weeks ago that her daughter was one of the girls kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria. I have to say, that I cannot imagine being the politician who knows what avenues can be taken and efforts made […]
Were The Super Eagles Dared
On a winter night in early July 1994, my brothers and I switched off our old Panasonic TV after a disappointing loss for the Nigerian Super Eagles. It was way past our bedtime but we didn’t care. Plus I think my parents were out and made it easier to watch the game. Pajamas and all we were excited to see how the Super Eagles could fair against a world class, albeit struggling, Italian outfit. I was gutted when the final whistle was blown. The Super Eagles were not dominant but had taken the mighty Azzuri to the brink of elimination.
The Super Eagles had been brilliant throughout 1994. They went through the 1994 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) with relative ease. The only exceptions being a 0 – 0 draw with Egypt and 4 – 2 penalty shootout win over the Ivory Coast in the semi-finals. The Super Eagles won their second AFCON title with a 2 – 1 win over Zambia. At AFCON, the Super Eagles unleashed attacking, athletic and physical line ups. They used an unconventional 4 – 2 – 4 formation (Today it would be a 4 – 2 – 2 – 2). The squad was comprised of Peter Rufai, skipper Stephen Keshi (Current Super Eagles coach), Sunday Oliseh, George Finidi, Emmanuel Amunike, Austin “Jay-Jay” Okocha, Dan Amokachi, Austin Eguavoen, Peter Rufai, Uche Okechukwu, Uche Okafor, Rashidi Yekini and Emeka Ezeugo. Most of these players had established themselves in some top European leagues. Dan Amokachi, Rashidi Yekini, Emmanuel Amunike and George Finidi were scintillating in attack. Yekini was the top scorer at AFCON with 5 goals.
At FIFA World Cup USA ‘94, Nigeria was grouped with Argentina, Greece & Bulgaria. The Super Eagles showed their immense attacking ability. They started by blowing away the eventual semi-finalists, Bulgaria 3 – 0. Rashidi Yekini’s celebration left an indelible mark on my life as a football fan. The Super Eagles then beat Greece 2 – 0. They did lose to Argentina but they were very competitive and were defeated by the last brilliance of Diego Maradona and Claudio Caniggia. The Super Eagles finished top of the group and advanced to the second round to face Italy.
The Italian team had limped into the knock out phase. Their uber-superstar, Roberto Baggio was struggling and hadn’t scored at the tournament. Franco Baresi, their captain, was going to miss the match. After Nigeria’s performances, I was cautiously optimistic, that the Super Eagles could win and match Cameroon’s quarter final appearance in 1990. My optimism was validated when Emmanuel Amunike scored via a tap in in the 25 minute. Afterwards, the Italy dominated and created all the opportunities but Nigeria held on until an 88th minute equalizer by Baggio. When Italy scored I knew that Nigeria had lost the game even though Italy was 10 men at that stage of the game. Italy secured their victory with an extra time penalty by Baggio and 1994 Super Eagles were relegated to history books as another failed African world cup campaign.
As I walked to my room that night, I lamented at a lost opportunity by the best African teams I had ever seen. I began to rationalize what had happened and asked myself a few questions. Why wasn’t Paolo Maldini sent off for a professional foul on Rashidi Yekini when he was the last defender? Why did the ref cheat like that? How could the Super Eagles lose to a 10 men team? Why can’t an African team advance and win a world cup? Would the Super Eagles ever get this close again? Why did Nigeria produce such a lackluster performance after producing entertaining, attacking football in the group stages? I had no answers. All I had was despair and anger (particularly at Paolo Maldini as believed he cheated). At AFCON 2013, the Nigerian Super Eagles won their 1st major title since that legendary 1994 team and with respect to the 2013 Super Eagles they are not even in the same stratosphere as the 1994 team. I don’t think I will ever see an African team this dominant but I sure hope I do.
I bumped into someone’s status update on Facebook wherein (with such courage) she asked who Lupita Nyong’o was and what her claim to fame was. I thought to myself “What!? Who is Lupita? Is she just not the most tweeted and talked about Kenyan woman, Oscar Winner and Hollywood’s Award Season darling??” I then […]
Posted in Beats & Soul with Carly on February 26th, 2014 By Carly Mond
If you have not kept up to date with the world of music recently then you have missed possibly the greatest few days in RnB revival history!! It seems that some of everyone’s favourite artists of the 90s have all woken up from their artistic coma in synchronization and here is the outcome….. During on […]
Posted in Life and Culture on February 25th, 2014 By Yvonne Mtengwa
So the adage goes that when opportunity meets preparedness success has every potential to ensue. Roman philosopher Seneca defined luck as the moment when preparedness and opportunity collide. Others simply assert that it is about being at the right place at the right time. In the advent of the economic collapse in my home country […]
I remember walking across a patch of grass in front of the B. Jones Center at Atlanta’s Emory University a good 12 years ago now. Bright eyed college freshman I was, who had categorically been placed under the “International Students” sub-group…you know; the group that arrives on campus earlier than the rest and endures lecture […]
Posted in Life and Culture on February 12th, 2014 By Yvonne Mtengwa
So enthralled I was to bump into a piece on CNN’s website entitled “Africa is not a country’: Students’ photo campaign breaks down stereotypes.” The first thing I thought was “Wow! Finally a people have taken it upon themselves to visually dispel the myths regarding all which Africa isn’t!” A group of students from Ithaca […]
The first famous black footballer I can remember was John Barnes. He was the fast, athletic left winger for England and Liverpool. I think my dad along with other dads in Zimbabwe supported John Barnes and Liverpool as a result. As much as I hate to admit it, I followed suit. Barnes was subjected to racism […]
It’s very rare that I come across somebody in the media spotlight whose life I envy. However, I have just read Ahmir Thompson aka Questlove’s book ‘Mo Meta Blues’ and wow I would happily trade lives with him for a while!! ‘Mo Meta Blues’ is described as a memoir/autobiography but it is more a journey […]
Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy aka Puffy aka P.Diddy aka Diddy often liked to make the claim that Bad Boy Records (meaning him) invented the remix. I’m not too sure who definitively invented the remix, but one thing is certain and that is Puffy was responsible for some of the greatest remixes ever produced. The […]
Posted in Guest Posts on November 20th, 2013 By Tinashe Mabasha
The Black Album was released on November 14 2003. At the time, this was Jay-Z aka Hov’s last album and he was retiring to become President of Island-Def Jam records and pursue other business interests. Last week was the 10 year anniversary of this record. The Black Album is widely recognized as Hov’s best […]