Successes, intrigues, drama in Nigerian Sports in 2013

2013 was quite a successful year for Nigeria.

The year 2013 was a successful one for Nigeria in sports. It started off with a major sporting event, the African Cup of Nations, AFCON, which the Super Eagles conquered after a 19 year hiatus. It was no doubt, the nation’s best performance in the year 2013.

The year was impressive especially when compared to the previous years. New grounds were broken in Football, Athletics, Crickets and Basketball.

Nations Cup Victory

The Nigerian Super Eagles won the Africa Cup of Nations after 19 years when they beat the Burkina Faso team on February 10, 2013. The team, led by Stephen Keshi, a former Super Eagle’s defender and captain, lifted the trophy in South Africa. The 2013 winning team, captained by Joseph Yobo, was later honoured by the president and hosted at the banquet hall of ASO rock in Abuja.

Amongst other laudable achievements the Nigerian Football witnessed was the nation’s appearance at the FIFA organized Confederations Cup in which the team was eliminated at the group stage. They won the match against upstarts Tahiti, but, subsequently, lost to Uruguay and Spain.

The same team also qualified for the 2014 FIFA World cup which will take place in Brazil. The team beat Ethiopia at their home and in Calabar, to emerge the first African side to secure qualification for

Brazil 2014. Nigeria will now rank as the second African nation with most World Cup appearances. Nigeria will be making its fifth appearance in Brazil but trails Cameroon whose seventh appearance is a new record for Africa.

U17 World Cup Victory

The Nigerian U17 Team also won the FIFA U-17 World Cup which took place in Dubai, making them the most successful team in FIFA U-17 World Cup history with four wins. The team got many awards at the tournament, like the Fair Play award, Most Valuable Player, Keeper of the Tournament and the second leading goal scorer award. Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Mohammed Musa, Musa Yahaya and Dele Alampasu were some of the outstanding players of the tournament.

CAF Nomination

Four members of the Super Eagles were nominated for the 2013 African Footballer of the Year Award. They are Vincent Enyeama, Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike, and John Mikel Obi. The winner will be announced in Lagos next week.

Keshi’s history making

Super Eagles head coach, Stephen Keshi, made history when he joined the late Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary to win the Africa Cup of Nations as a player and a coach. Keshi led Nigeria when the Eagles defeated Zambia 2-1 in Tunis ’94 to win their second Nations Cup title; before coaching the victorious Eagles in 2013.

LMC Record Broadcast Fee

The League Management Company, LMC, was in the news for the ground breaking TV rights sponsorship deal it brokered for the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL. The deal, which runs from

2015-2019, is worth N1.4 billion and is the highest TV rights money to be attracted in Nigerian football. The commendable performance of the LMC headed by Nduka Irabor has prompted the extension of its mandate by the Nigeria Football Federation for another year.

CHAN Qualification

Nigeria eliminated Ivory Coast 4-3 on goal aggregate to qualify for the African Nations Championship which begins in South Africa in January 2014. Nigeria has failed to qualify for the tournament meant for African based footballers since the event began in 2009.

Players Pay-Cut Protest

The Super Eagles protested in Namibia after a friendly because of a reduction in their allowances. Though the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, had in February claimed they were broke and that the Eagles pay will witness a cut from $10000 to $5000, a 50 per cent reduction; the protest in June caused the country a big embarrassment as the players declined to board a flight to Johannesburg enroute Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the FIFA Confederations Cup.

The bonus row prompted the Nigerian Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, to institute a panel to probe the saga. The panel headed by former Presidential Spokesman, Olusegun Adeniyi, apportioned blames to the NFF and the players.

Keshi’s Resignation

Stephen Keshi purportedly ‘resigned’ from his post after the Africa Cup of Nations win in South Africa, in protest against the disruptive role of members of the NFF, who were accused of shopping for a foreign coach in the middle of the Nations Cup campaign, following Nigeria’s shaky start.

He, however, changed his decision after the intervention of the Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi.

Stakeholders Ban

In the year 2013, the Board of the Nigeria Football Federation banned some football industry players for insubordination and unsportsmanlike actions. Taiwo Ogunjobi, Baribote Rumson, Leye Adepoju, and Chidi Okenwa were banned for 10 to 15 years. The main promoters of the ban were reportedly Aminu Maigari, Chris Green, and Emeka Inyama.

Recruitments/Appointments

The National Sports Commission recruited foreign coaches to prepare Nigerian athletes for next year’s commonwealth games. The NFF appointed former Super Eagles coach, Shuaibu Amodu, as the technical director to be assisted by Laloko Kashimawo and James Peters.

Cricket

The Nigerian cricket team, for the first time ever, made it to the highest cricket league in Africa -league five. It’s the first time that the nation will make it to the league since independence.

Basketball

The Basketball Federation announced a partnership agreement with IMG London.

The male national team, D’Tigers, appeared at the Afrobasket 2013 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. They, however, failed to advance to the semi-finals stage of the competition after a 63-64 loss to Senegal at the quarter-finals. Nigeria also failed in its bid to finish in the top three for a ticket to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Sports elections

The National Sports Commission successfully conducted elections where some federations got new presidents and some other ones were re-elected in a bid to start preparations towards next year’s Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom.

Some of the elections were seen as controversial especially the presidency of the Golf Federation. It was alleged that the National Sports Commission struck out the name of the former Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, from the list of the contestants few hours to the elections; which a special adviser to the Senate President, Peter Deshi, won unopposed. Mr. Oyinlola is on opposite political divides as President Goodluck Jonathan.

Athletics

Blessing Okagbare was the face of Nigerian athletics in year 2013.

At the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Okagbare won the silver medal in the long jump. Her jump of 6.99 metres put her in the second place with 2cm behind Brittney Reese (United States).

In the 100 metres final, she placed sixth with a run of 11.04 seconds and also placed third in the 200 metres race. In July, at the London Anniversary Games, Okagbare set a new African record of 10.79, where she beat reigning 100 metres Olympic gold medalist, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Okagbare’s record overshadowed the existing record by compatriot Glory Alozie of 10.90s which had stood since 1998, another ground breaking feat.

National Youth Games

The championship was solely invented to identify and nurture potential sporting talents for Nigeria. The event, which debuted this year, was designed to discover talents at an early stage and will be held bi-annually. The participants were between 11 and 17.

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