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Olympic Gold, AFCON success and Great nights in Nigerian football

11:09 GMT+4 30/12/2019
Nigeria Africa Cup of Nations 2013
Olympic Gold, AFCON success and Great nights in Nigerian football

Goal, in association with Guinness, reviews some of the most memorable nights in the history of Nigerian football, celebrating those occasions which brought the country together and guaranteed some unforgettable memories.

 

  • Nigeria 1994 World Cup

    The Golden Generation conquer the continent

    Nigeria’s Golden Generation of the mid-90s enjoyed three major successes - at the Olympic games, the World Cup and, of course, at the Nations Cup in 1994.

    Nigeria had won the Afcon previously - on home soil in 1980 - but in ’94, in Tunisia, they conquered Africa in some style, as a star-studded side earned legendary status during an unforgettable run to the final.

    Rashidi Yekini was the star against Zaire in the quarter-final and the Ivory Coast in the semi, but it was Emmanuel Amunike who stole the headlines in the final, netting twice as Zambia were dispatched to end Nigeria’s 14-year wait for continental gold.

    Rarely has Africa seen a side with as much talent as that rampant ’94 generation, who would go on to win over many neutral observers in the United States two months later…

  • Rashidi Yekini Nigeria Bulgaria 1994 World Cup

    Yekini’s magic moment

    Nigeria’s opening match at the 1994 World Cup was their first match ever on the grandest stage of all. It was won emphatically, with the Super Eagles clinching a 3-0 triumph over Bulgaria to announce themselves to a watching world.

    This was perhaps the Golden Generation’s finest hour, with Yekini opening the scoring after fine work from Chidi Nwanu with a delicious left-footed finish.

    He was influential in the second goal, setting up Daniel Amokachi, before winger Emmanuel Amunike headed the Eagles’ third following a delightful Finidi George cross — rounding off the triumph.

    Obviously, Yekini’s magnificent net-pumping celebration was the iconic image from that match, but it was an occasion that belonged to the whole nation… and a magnificent World Cup introduction.

  • Nigeria World Cup 1994

    Two minutes from history

    Also at the 1994 World Cup, Nigeria’s knockout match against Italy cannot be forgotten.

    The Eagles ultimately fell short, losing a controversial tie 2-1, but they firmly held their own against one of world football’s genuine powerhouses.

    Amunike had put the West Africans ahead in some style after 25 minutes, but Roberto Baggio netted an equaliser two minutes from time to take the bout to extra time.

    The Azzurri great then scored a 102nd-minute penalty winner in extra time - after Augustine Eguavoen had brought down Antonio Benarrivo in the box - and Italy progressed to the next round.

    A bad evening, in the end, but the Eagles had won the hearts of many neutrals in their gallant showing.

  • Sunday Oliseh

    Oliseh’s thunderous winner

    Nigeria kicked off the 1998 World Cup just as vibrantly as they’d begun the previous tournament - with a statement victory.

    Twice Spain had taken the lead, through Fernando Hierro and Raul, and twice they’d been clawed back, by Mutiu Adepoju and Garba Lawal, as Nigeria had again proved they could hold their own with a European giant.

    Not only could they match La Roja, however, but the Eagles could go one better, with Sunday Oliseh slamming home a magnificent long-range winner in the 78th minute, prompting stunning scenes of celebration.

    The West Africans would ultimately reach the Last 16, following another victory over Bulgaria and a 3-1 defeat by Paraguay.

  • Sunday Mba - Afcon 2013

    Sunday Mba’s heroics

    In 2013, Stephen Keshi’s unfancied team became Nigeria’s latest Africa Cup of Nations winners, clinching their third continental crown in South Africa.

    The tournament was full of magnificent memories, including Victor Moses’ double against Ethiopia, and the superb semi-final evisceration of Mali in Durban.

    However, perhaps the most memorable contribution of that tournament came in Rustenburg, when Sunday Mba - unheard of before the competition - netted a 78th-minute winner against the Golden Generation of the Ivory Coast.

    It was a fine goal, albeit scored with a stroke of luck, and ultimately brought the curtain down on Didier Drogba’s hopes of winning the continental crown.

    Mba would also bag the winner against Burkina Faso in the final at the FNB Stadium a week later, completing a remarkable rise to prominence!