Football In Nigeria: Yesterday, Today And…
There are different types of sports in the world today. But in all, football stands as the King of Sports. In Nigeria, football is the game or sport of the people. late seventies to eighties, Nigeria Professional Football League was well organized and highly valued. And it produce stars that made the country proud nationally and internationally. Teams like IICC shooting Stars of Ibadan, Sharks of Port Harcourt, Abiola Babes of Abeokuta, Mighty Jets of Jos, Rangers of Enugu, Calabar Rovers Racca Rovers of Kano, Kano Pillars, Leventis of Ibadan, Julius Berger of Lagos, BCC Lions of Gboko, Iwuanyanwu of Owerri, New Nigerian Bank of Benin, Bendel Insurance of Benin, Stationary Stores of Lagos and others were popular; it was from these teams that the Super Eagles (then Green Eagles) players were picked and they won the first Nations Cup which was hosted by Nigeria in 1980.
The Green Eagles team comprised Captain Christian Chukwu; Segun Odegbami, Adokiye Amiesimaka, Felix Owolabi, Aloysius Atigbu, Emmanuel Okala, Sylvanus Okpala and others. More so, the league made things easier for Coach Clemence Westerhorf and his technical crew to qualified Nigeria for the first time for the US’94 World Cup and also won the Tunisia’ 94 Nations Cup which made FIFA to rate Nigeria as the 5th best team in the world. Part of this team assisted the Olympic squad captained by Uche Okechukwu in Atlanta’ 96 to win the Gold Medal with players like J.J Okocha, Victor Ikpeba, Sunday Olisa, Emmanuel Amunike, Daniel Omokachi, (aka the Bull) and others.
The league also contributed much to the formation of the Flying Eagles and the Golden Eaglets Nigeria won the first edition of the Golden Eaglets tournament (under 17) in 1985 with players like Nduka Ugbade, Binaebi Numa, Tonworimi Duore, Victor Igbinoba, Billa Momoh, Jonathan Akpoborie, Imama Amapakabo and others. Also, the Flying Eagles Team in the same year with Monday Odiaka, Sampson Siasia, Andrew Uwe, Aloy Agu and others won Bronze medal in USSR, and thereafter become runners-up in Suadi’ 89 and Poland 2005 respectively.
Nigeria has won the Under 17 World Cup five times and the Nation’s Cup three times. Many people as of then paid more interest watching Nigeria league because of the quality of players and standard of the game.