The catastrophe that befell Nigerian football Tuesday evening after the Super Eagles forced the Black Stars of Ghana to a 1-1 draw in the 2022 World Cup qualifier playoff did not just end after Tunisian referee Selma Selik blew the final whistle at the MKO Abiola Stadium.
After the pitch invasion by irate fans and the subsequent attacks on Nigeria football officials, it was revealed that the doping officer for the game, Joseph Kabungo from Zambia, suddenly collapsed and died.
The cause of death is yet to be ascertained and there has been no official statement from the NFF.
After playing 0-0 with Ghana on Friday in Kumasi, the Super Eagles hosted the Black Stars in the return match in Abuja in what turned out a lacklustre outing by the Nigerian team.
The Black Stars qualified for the 2022 World Cup to be hosted by Qatar on the away goal rule at the expense of the Super Eagles who are individually talented but uninspiring as a team.
After the referee blew the final whistle, irate fans invaded the pitch leading to a breakdown of security at the stadium. It is unclear at this time if the incident is related to the tragedy involving Mr Kabungo.
Nigerian sports journalist, Osazu Obayuwana, who posted the news of the incident on Twitter Tuesday night, said “Dr Kabungo collapsed suddenly and died. Cause of death not confirmed yet. His family, the Zambia FA and the government of Zambia have been duly informed.”
Mr Obayuwana added that “If the death of the Zambian was caused by the invasion of the pitch by fans, the Nigerian Football Federation would be in trouble with FIFA.”
Meanwhile, the Zambian football association has issued a statement mourning the departed football official.
The statement reads, “The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) joins the rest of the football family in mourning the late Dr Joseph Kabungo. Dr Kabungo, a CAF/FIFA medical officer was on duty in Abuja for the second leg, final qualifying match between Nigeria and Ghana that ended 1-1.
FAZ President Andrew Kamanga said the country had lost one of the game’s leading lights on the continent and beyond.
“Today we mourn the passing of our CAF/FIFA medical officer Dr Joseph Kabungo who was on duty as a Doping officer in Tuesday’s match involving Nigeria and Ghana, and we extend our sincere condolences to Dr Kabungo’s family and the football family at large,” Mr Kamanga said.
“We take note that it is too early to dwell into the nitty-gritty of the cause of his death but will wait for the full report from CAF and FIFA on what exactly transpired.”
Mr Kamanga added: “He was a dedicated and widely loved member of our football community and his impact was vast, having also been part of the 2012 Africa Cup winning team. His death is a huge loss as Dr Kabungo was a friend and confidant to many generations of players and their families.
“Dr Kabungo was a permanent fixture at football events including the FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar which is a precursor for the 2022 World Cup. He was also part of the medical team during the Cameroon 2021 (played in 2022) Africa Cup of Nations.
“He was one of the outstanding Zambian football personalities that flew the Zambian flag at global football events. We all have to learn from his example of excellence and celebrate his legacy by breeding more hard working football Zambian administrators.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To place an advert here . Call Willie - +2348098788999