Nigeriaâ€™s dressing room at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi was a joyous scene of celebration, as several key stars like skipper Nwankwo Kanu and Everton defender Joseph Yobo broke down in tears of joy after the team dramatically snatched a World Cup ticket on the final day of the qualifiers.
Top team official Peterside Idah said it was an unbelievable scene of celebration as both officials and the players rejoiced following their 3-2 victory over hosts Kenya, while Mozambique defeated Tunisia 1-0 to allow the Super Eagles sail through to next yearâ€™s World Cup in South Africa.
Nigeria top Group Two with 12 points from six matches, a point more than erstwhile leaders Tunisia, while Mozambique are placed third on seven points and will thus feature at the Nations Cup in Angola, along with the Eagles and Tunisia. Kenya were bottom of the standings on three points.
â€œThe dressing room was unbelievable. Kanu, Yobo, Mikel, they were all weeping tears of joy. A lot of them knew that this was their last chance of playing at the World Cup. This was a Kenyan miracle because a lot of people doubted our chances,â€ Idah told the cable television Supersport after the match in Kenya.
â€œEven when things were not going well for us, the players kept their nerves and went on to score three goals away from home.
â€œNow we have to go back to the serious business of preparing for the Nations Cup early next year.â€
There were also celebrations on the streets of major cities across the country immediately after the countryâ€™s qualification.
â€œEnugu is throwing a big victory party,â€ reported sports journalist, Norbert Okolie.
â€œEverywhere you go, the talk is about Nigeriaâ€™s qualification to next yearâ€™s World Cup. Even some weddings this weekend were disrupted by what was going on in faraway Kenya.â€
A fan in the northern town of Kaduna, Abdullahi Abdulsalam, told goal.com: â€œWe watched the game at a public viewing centre and all hell was let loose soon after Nigeria beat Kenya.â€œA friend told me he will celebrate this qualification by getting drunk tonight even though he has never tasted beer in his life.â€
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.