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2015 'sweet and sour' for Nigeria sport

24 December 2015, 12:41Israel Ojoko

Lagos - The year 2015 provided a mixture of sweet and sour taste for Nigeria’s sporting atmosphere.

The year began in sadness following the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Equatorial Guinea after Morocco refused to host the tournament due to the epidemic Ebola Virus.

Nigerians painfully watched the AFCON 2015 on television as Ivory Coast defeated Ghana 9-8 on penalty shootout to lift the trophy for the second time on February 8.

The Golden Eaglets went to Niger for the CAF U17 tournament, in February, and finished 4th, after losing 1-0 to South Africa in the semifinal and a woeful 3-1 loss to Guinea in the third place match, though that was enough to qualify them for the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup. Victor Osimhen emerged the top scorer with four goals, and Mali was crowned the champions.

In March, the Flying Eagles brought a relief to sport lovers by winning the CAF U20 Championship hosted by Senegal and as a result qualified for the FIFA U20 World Cup hosted by New Zealand. Musa Muhammed emerged the top scorer with four goals and Bernard Bulbwa’s goal against Senegal in the final was rated the best of the tournament.

In August, Nigeria’s senior men’s basketball team, D’Tigers won their first ever AfroBasket, beating Angola in the final 74–65 in Tunisia. Chamberlain Oguchi was named tourney MVP.

By winning the title, Nigeria automatically qualified for the 2016 Olympics. The next three best-placed teams, Angola, Tunisia, and Senegal, each secured a spot in next summer's final FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Also read: Okagbare fails to show up for 200m race

In the same month, it was a woeful outing for Nigeria at the World Championships in Athletics in Beijing, China, as none of its 16 athletes who represented the country could get a medal.

Kenya emerged the overall winner with seven gold, six silver and three bronze medals.

But the story changed for Nigeria in September, when, at the All Africa Games, it finished second behind Egypt. The West African giants had a total of 144 medals, claiming 47 gold, 55 silver and 42 bronze.

In para-sport at the same tournament, Nigeria finished top with 12 gold, 11 silver and eight bronze, totaling 31 medals.

Still in September, Nigeria finished 7th at the Commonwealth Youth Games held in Apia, capital city of Samoa with six gold, two silver and three bronze medals.

At the 2015 World Wrestling Championships, Nigeria was only able to finish with one bronze medal, thanks to Odunayo Adekuoroye in the women’s freestyle category.

In October, Nigeria finished 3rd at the AfroBasket Women 2015. They lost by just one point (71-70) to host Cameroon in the semifinal, but went ahead to beat Angola 65-55 in the third place. That feat was not enough to seal a qualification ticket for the Rio 2016 Olympics as only two teams (first and second) can represent the continent at the tournament.

In October/November, the Golden Eaglets went on to win a record 5th FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile, beating West African brothers Mali 2-0 in the final. Victor Osimhen again emerged the top scorer, but this time, with 10 goals. Compatriot Kelechi Nwakali was the tournament’s best player. Nigeria scored 23 goals and conceded five.

In November, Enyimba won the 2014/15 Nigeria Professional Football League a record 7th time with 70 points.

Akwa United defeated Lobi Stars 2-1 to win the 2015 Federation Cup. A sumptuous free kick in the first half through Namso Edo and a rocket shot from Abdullafeez Afeez in second half ended the long wait by the Promise Keepers as they secured their first Federation Cup title in their history in style.

In December, Nigeria ended the year in a rather bright note as the Dream Team, led by Samson Siasia, won the U23 AFCON tournament held in Senegal. The feat also see Nigeria qualify for the men’s football event at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Oghenekaro Etebo emerged the top scorer with five goals, Okechukwu Azubuike was voted the tournament’s best player.

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- News24


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