Best Nigeria World Cup goal celebrations

Goal remembers the Super Eagles' most memorable goals that have underlined their participation at the Fifa World Cup since their maiden appearance two decades ago

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Shina Oludare

As the Super Eagles prepare to feature in their fifth Fifa World Cup at Brazil 2014, this article recalls some of the memorable goals of the 17 scored by the Nigeria national team in the history of the competition.

RASHIDI YEKINI



One of the most enduring goal celebrations ever seen at the World Cup happened on the night of June 21, 1994, when the big striker scored what was Nigeria’s first ever goal at the World Cup finals against Bulgaria.

The Super Eagles had qualified for the Mundial, their first appearance on the big stage, courtesy of goals from Yekini. He scored eight goals in the qualification series to ensure Nigeria’s flag was finally flown at USA ’94.

As if fate was rewarding him for all of his previous efforts, he latched on to a cross from Finidi George to score what looked like an easy goal by his own standards. As it dawned on him that he had scored the first ever goal for Nigeria at the World Cup, Yekini ran into the goals, grabbed the net, and shook it endlessly while screaming to the high heavens.

To this day, nobody really knew what Yekini said to the net or if it was praise to God or his ancestors, all that was evident was the fact that the event left him delirious and helped to create one of the most memorable World Cup goal celebrations ever.

JULIUS AGHAHOWA



Of all celebrations which follow goals scored, the most awe-inspiring is arguably when the scorer performs an acrobatic routine. Julius Aghahowa brought this to the fore at the 2002 Fifa World Cup co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.

The Super Eagles broke quickly and Yobo floated in a beautiful cross which Aghahowa, having eluded the Swedish defence, deftly headed past Magnus Hedman. ‘Agha-wonder’ then launched into a glitzy celebration – that earned rapturous applause from the spectators.

However, Sweden's riposte was swift. Ljungberg threaded the perfect ball through to Larsson, whose superb first touch was equalled by his second and bettered by a sweet right-foot finish that ended in the back of the net. The two goals opened the game up and Sweden were fortunate to secure victory after 90 minutes.

SUNDAY OLISEH

Sunday Oliseh’s goal celebration will eternally be associated with one deafening moment in the history of the game as he burst into spontaneous joy after cannoning the ball past Spain goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta for one of the most explosive highlights of the 1998 Fifa World Cup.

“My goal against Spain in 1998! On top of everything, it was the decider - it gave us the win. Everyone still remembers it now,” he told Fifa.com.

His goal proved enough for the Super Eagles against the star-studded Europeans who had taken the lead through Fernando Hierro in the 21st minute at the La Beaujoire Stadium on June 13, 1998.

DANIEL AMOKACHI

Bulgaria's best World Cup opportunity in years was swiftly undone by moments of magic by Westerhof’s men at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.

First was Yekini’s simple tap in, and before the break ‘the bull’ scored a brilliant goal which prompted many to ask 'how did he achieve that?'.

Before the Bulgarians could pick the ball from their own net, Amokachi performed a disco move step and was promptly joined by Uche Okechukwu and Emmanuel Amuneke. What a way to celebrate a goal on one’s debut at the Fifa World Cup!

FINIDI GEORGE

The Super Eagles provided many highlights in their first ever World Cup in 1994, including their demolition of Bulgaria and cruel elimination by Italy. In the group stage match against Greece, Finidi George completed a wonderful counter-attack by clipping the ball over the keeper and then sank to the ground to imitate a dog.

George crawled for a few yards and then lifted his leg, where, with perfect timing, Daniel Amokachi gave him a friendly pat on the backside as the player pretended to take a leak. It was a wee bit impressive!

At the Atlanta 96 Olympic Games, the Australian Olympic team imitated this act regarded as one of the most bizarre celebrations at the USA 94 finals . They all went down, forming a crawling conga line towards the corner post after scoring against Canada.

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