Indeed, it was exactly 30 years ago today when we (Green Eagles, now Super Eagles) lost in the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations to Cameroon, led by Roger Miller.
To my fallen comrades, your smiles, dining room jokes, the sweats from practices, the special instructions before the match against Algeria the victory over Ghana, the 2-2 tie with Malawi, after they took a 2-0 lead, the semi-final’s penalties win over Egypt, the pre-game and match-ready uplifting and motivational songs, the laps, the Titi Rose, the ela won, the travels, the jokes on playful Ikazobor aka “Papingo”, the tension, the game-plan dripping from the lips of our coaches, Adegboyega Onigbinde and James Peters and above all, your unrelenting personal and family sacrifices for our great country, Nigeria, are still lingering in my mind. May your souls rest in peace!!
Now, looking back, as a young lad, I felt the agony that comes in defeat but today, it deeply haunts and saddens me more so now that I came to a sad, but realistic admission and realization that it was a team completely forgotten for failing to win the silverware.
To be the second best sometimes isn’t good enough, so strive to be the best. Though, I understand because the Christian Chukwu-led team won it four years prior. Nevertheless, many thanks to President Goodluck Jonathan, for honoring the 3rd placed CHAN Super Eagles, that is the spirit and more of that, please.
Anyway, there was sunshine on this day in Ivory Coast until Cameroon ruined on parade! I am hoping it is appropriate here, on behalf of my teammates and coaches, without reservation and qualification, I offer my apology to Nigerians for failing to lift the trophy 30 years ago.
…..Okoku writes from Atlanta, Georgia