A low cross from the right wing, the defender obviously not knowing what’s about to go down, it falls in the part of… ITS A GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL!! RASHID YEKINI!! RASHID YEKINI!!.. The Nigerian supporters go wild with joy, that was just about that, Nigeria was heading to the 1994 FIFA world cup staged in the United States. The joys everywhere seemed that our nation was going to announce themselves to the world. I was not given birth to at the time to feel the joys of the people no would later call my compatriots, but still, as I’m writing this I can only but imagine the ecstatic feeling every single Nigerian was going through, yes we finally made it to the world stage… we felt invincible, we felt we could go all out to win it… we felt as that, but we didn’t, after topping the group albeit with same points as bulgaria and argentina, heck we left at the knockout rounds losing to Italy 2-1 after extra time, but as debut participants and major underdogs we felt it as an achievement we needed to work on. Moving on from there, we participated at the Olympics 96 held in Atlanta, the footballing spectacle where we won the gold medal after defeating Argentina in the final, efforts from Kanu Nwankwo, Austin Okocha and team mates. We ruled the world.
We were hoping for the best. The 90s’ was so rosy for Nigeria football. Nigeria won the under 16 world soccer tournament in Japan 93, the Super Eagles won the African Cup of Nations in 94 and then, the Olympics gold medal in Atlanta 96. World cup 98 arrived with all its glory, Nigeria once again participated, looking to capitalise on our previous achievement, we… well still got knocked out in the knockout in a very be setting manner 4-1 loss to Denmark, despite winning Spain and Bulgaria in the group stages and losing seriously (chop thrashing shaa) to Paraguay. We still felt we were improving, falling to see the obvious down set in our football. We still took out fate in good faith. 2002 korea-japan we were ousted seriously and kicked out in the group stages, we didnt even show up for 2006 world cup. Things were looking bad. Along the road we made our very own derbies, Nigeria vs Ghana,
Nigeria vs Brazil, Nigeria vs Argentina. The most frustrating of the derbies always came up against Argentina with the ace Lionel Messi and a bunch of other footballing geniuses… we actually thought that with the retirement of maradona, things will be better… Messi was the eventual case. We won in our last meeting though, 2 goals down to win 4-2.. the derbies against Brazil was actually fearful.. the most spectacular victory coming back in 96 when after falling 3 goals to 1, made a magical comback in the 7 goal thriller, with a Brazil team featuring the likes of bebeto, ronaldinho, juninho, etc. Heck we have a whole song composed for when we defeated Brazil… ahh dapper beats. Back to our success tale, years following we became accustomed to failure, dropping down rankings and FIFA order… we got to the 2010, but crashed out again, being defeated by Greece and south Korea and messi… sorry Argentina.. we just looked like representators meanwhile our African brothers from Ghana almost reached the semi finals, well if they had just appeased the gods and paid homage to their village people. All that one is in the past sha. 2014 Brazil spectacle that saw Brazil being handed brazil’s cure to brazil in brazil. 7-1 in the semi.. the German machines had no joy. Nigeria had started seeing some improvements, again making it to the knockout and getting knocked out by France 2-0. Oh, and We met messi again oh did he mess us up, although Ahmed Musa came through for us. We still appreciate the effort of late Stephen Keshi, may his soul rest in peace, as he also rallied the eagles to a magical Afcon triumph in 2013. Nigeria was seeing signs of improvement. Now everything has changed, we been down to earth and back now we are ready for the next thing, after our qualification to the next world cup, with the help of our coach Gerhnot Rohr, we are ready for June 2018, the question is are you ready for us. We cannot be another face in the crowd no more.