| By Anayo Ezugwu |
THE year 2014 recorded a mixed grill in the sporting arena in Nigeria. It was not a very good year for most soccer enthusiasts as soccer teams recorded series of disappointing outings while some athletes performed very well in their various endeavour.
In the area football, soccer fans agonised the inability of Super Eagles to qualify for the Nations Cup to be hosted by Equatorial Guinea in 2015. Although they failed to qualify for the 2015 AFCON, the Super Eagles participated in the FIFA World Cup hosted by Brazil, where it performed credibly well. The team reached the knock-out stage of the tournament, which they have not qualified for since France 1998. The country, had previously qualified in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010.
Unlike the Super Eagles, the Super Falcons won the 2014 Africa Women Championship hosted by Namibia. The Super Falcons of Nigeria defeated Cameroon to win the ninth edition of the AWC for a record seven times to qualify for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Canada.
In the Nigerian league, Kano Pillars FC, won the Nigeria Glo Premier League for a record third time consecutively. Two Super Eagles players were nominated for the Glo-CAF Award in 2014 for their performances in the year under review. They include Vincent Enyeama and Ahmed Musa.
At the Glass House in Abuja, the lingering crisis rocking the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, continued as Chris Giwa-led faction and Amaju Pinnick-led board failed to resolve their differences. The senate committee on sports is also working to abolish the Nigeria Football Association, Act of 2004 and to enact Bill 2014. This new bill seeks to legalise the NFF and reduce government’s interference in football administrations. The committee also fixed the tenure for the NFF executives. Speaking after the passage of the Bill, Adamu Gumba, chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, explained that the new law would stop the endemic succession problem in the football house as there a fixed tenure for the NFF executives has been fixed.
On the European stage, Real Madrid of Spain won the UEFA Champions League for the 2013-2014 seasons for a record tenth time.
On July 13, the German national football team also won the 2014 FIFA World Cup hosted by Brazil. In England, Manchester City won the English Premier League for 2013-2014 seasons. The year also witnessed the biggest ever transfer deal in England. Manchester United bought Angel Di Maria for $59 million from Real Madrid FC of Spain, making him the most expensive football player in Britain.
In athletics, Nigeria recorded its best performance in any athletics championship at the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. The Team Nigeria finished in the eight (8) positions on the overall medals table and second best among the Commonwealth countries in Africa, after South Africa, with a total of 36 medals, comprising 11 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze.
Blessing Okagbare, captain of Team Nigeria in the track and field events, won 100 metres gold medal in the women’s event in 10.85 seconds. She also won gold in the 200m race, thereby becoming the first Nigerian to win double gold medals in the Common wealth Games. Remarkably, wrestling accounts for the majority of Nigeria’s medals at the games, with 12 medals, comprising two gold, two silver and eight bronze medals.
Apart from these, Chika Amalaha, Nigeria weightlifter at the games, who won Nigeria’s first gold medal, was denied of her medal after she tested positive to a banned substance. At the African Senior Athletics Championship, in Marrakech, Morocco, Team Nigeria put up a brilliant performance to finish top of the log. Blessing Okagbare, won the 100m gold medal in the women event with a new championship record. Also, the men and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay was also won as well, with Okagbare anchoring the female team to gold in 43.56secs.
— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT