By Seun Sanni

I read a post on this blog, on Keshi disappointing Nigerians
again and one thing caught my eye where you mentioned the fact that fans did
not celebrate the Super Eagles win over the Ivory Coast like in times past.

In all honesty the match wasn’t a cracker, but
Nigeria did well to get a result.
Personally I didn’t expect to see people jumping
around because the team played exceptionally well, No! But they were effective
on the night.
Comparing the nonchalant attitude of fans towards
the Super Eagles could be traced as far back as the World Cup in France 98 when
Nigerians were all in support of their team no matter who the coach/technical
adviser was.
Nigeria did well to win their first 2 games against
Spain and Bulgaria then drawing their final group match against Paraguay, this
didn’t matter as it was enough to qualify us out of the group.
Who would not celebrate such a success? Not only
were they winning they were doing it in style and commitment, they were ready
to die for the country, they wore the national team’s jersey with pride, and
then the unexpected happened.
The players “forgot” they had to play Denmark before
qualifying for the quarter finals to play Brazil and all the talk was about
playing Brazil, while the Danish national team studied their opponents ,we
talked about playing the Brazilian National Team.
It was not surprising to the neutral that Denmark trashed
us 4-1 ,even though we created 3 goal scoring opportunities in the first
10minutes but Nwankwo Kanu  did “well” to
squander those chances and left all guessing what might have been if we have
converted those chances, anyway that was fourteen years ago.
Roll back the years, 4 before France 98, Nigeria
were African champions and 5th in the world (according to the FIFA
ranking) and who dares criticize the success of such a team?
That wonderful Sunday afternoon in Tunis, when Emmanuel
Amuneke became Nigeria’s hero, I watched as people trooped to the streets to
celebrate the success of the team.
My parents wouldn’t let me go out but the street was
agog with celebrations, the team came back paraded Lagos city with the late
business tycoon MKO Abiola, I saw them pass the back of my house, the joy of
seeing successful people, making feel you can be one is enough to celebrate
them over and over again.
Fast forward 2 years on we did not attend the 96
edition of the Cup of Nations held in South Africa due to “political” reasons,
however Nigeria was at it again, this time it was the Olympics and we had
beaten Brazil in the semi-finals after coming down from a 3-1 deficit to
qualify for the final.
Beating Brazil was enough to get Nigerians back on
the streets celebrating their known and not too know heroes. Again Nigeria did
well against all odds beating Argentina in the finals of the men’s football
category at the Atlanta 96 Olympics, who again scored the winner? Emmanuel Ammuneke.
It was late in the night, I was in Kano then, my
first chance of seeing the response of Nigerians in the north to a Super Eagles
These fans who had celebrated the SE were used to
winning and at least loved to see their SE go down with a fight.
The Great disappointment came in 2000 on home soil
when Nigeria co-hosted the Nations cup with Ghana losing the final on penalty
to Cameroun ,after coming back from a 2goal deficit in the first half.
I remember how people had planned to celebrate the win;
the national stadium in Lagos was filled up, some fans turned back at the gate.
Nigerians left the stadium not knowing how to react
to the home loss, a great loss it turned out to be as it took out the steam in
the fans, afterwards the National stadium became a hostile ground to the SE, they
were constantly booed in the National stadium, fans lost faith in the team too quickly,
the generation that once celebrated the SE with dancing and signing on the
streets was fast fading away, they lost interest in the Eagles’ games, whether
on TV or at home, as time passed the tradition of celebrating on the street
gradually faded away, no one to pass it to the coming generation, the present
“young” fans of the Super Eagles have never celebrated a trophy of any kind
local or international.
I say it’s not too late, Sunday the 10th
of February 2013 gives our generation another chance to show them how it’s done,
how we have been doing the rumba. That is If the Super Eagles win hopefully.


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