By Efosa Taiwo
2022 has, indeed, been a mixed year for Nigerian sports. There have been the highs, there have been the lows; there have been the celebrations, and there have also been the sorrows.
While many might not tag it a successful year for the sports industry, there are unarguably some events that brought smiles to the faces of sports lovers in Nigeria and will never be forgotten. Not to mention, the ones that keep being rued with many hoping for better fortunes next year.
In retrospect, here are five of those unforgettable moments:
- Super Eagles losing the 2022 World Cup ticket to Ghana
In May, Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, following a 1-1 draw with Ghana at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja.
The Super Eagles had, in the first leg, failed to defeat the Black Stars in Kumasi, playing out a 0-0 draw. In consequence, the result sent the Black Stars of Ghana through to Qatar having scored an away goal in Abuja.
It was such a heartbreaking event in the country, made worse on the grounds of losing the ticket to an arch-rival in Ghana.
- Amusan’s 12.12 seconds at the World Athletics Championship
Nigerian sprinter, Tobi Amusan was one personality that brought smiles to the faces of Nigerians this year, breaking records at various global and continental competitions she participated in.
Top among the long list of achievements she racked up this year was in June in the World Athletics Championship where she broke the world record in the 100m hurdles with a stunning semi-final time of 12.12 seconds – before taking gold in the final of the competition.
- Flamingoes qualified for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup semi-final for the first time
In October, at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India, the Flamingoes led by Coach Bankole Olowookere did the ‘unthinkable’ against the United States of America, defeating the women’s football powerhouse 4-3 on penalties to reach the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time in history.
Even though they would go ahead to lose against Colombia in the Semis and claim the bronze medal in the third-place, breaking the semi-final jinx etches itself as historical.
- FG suspending basketball for two years
It has been a tumultuous year for basketball in Nigeria after the federal government, in May, suspended the sport in Nigeria for two years.
Although the ban was reversed after six weeks, the period will go down as unforgettable in the history books of the sports industry this year.
The ban came on the heels of the unending crisis plaguing the sector, as the Minister of Sports claimed that the sport needed revamping from the grassroots as well as the domestic leagues to see it thrive again.
5. Successful 21st National Sports Festival
After much ado, the 21st National Sports Festival tagged Delta 2022 was held in Delta state successfully.
The festival held from November 28th to 10th December with 14,000 athletes in participation and 36 states plus the Federal Capital Territory jostling for the first position on the medals table.
Hosts, Delta, came first with 320 gold, 200 silver and 128 bronze medals.’
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