In today’s sports, Nigeria’s male team seem to have taken the back seat, allowing the women to dominate the stage. From football to athletics, male competitors are no longer the force they used to be in major sporting events.
This year, Nigerian women have made major headlines by bringing more honours to the country than their male counterparts.
Before the just concluded Oregon 2022 World Athletics Championships, where Nigeria made history by picking her first ever gold medal, the ladies had been the ahead in sports, leaving the male as ‘mere spectators.’
The gap seems to be widening on daily basis.
• Sprint hurdler, Tobi Amusan, set World Record and won gold medal at Oregon 2022, the first Nigerian to do so.
• Ese Brume grabbed a silver medal at Oregon 2022 to set a record as the only Nigerian athlete (male or female) to win two medals at the World Championship.
• Nigerian women’s 4×100 relay team set an African record at Oregon 2022, after the men crashed out in the heat event.
• The Super Falcons qualified for 2023 World Cup, while the Super Eagles fumbled in the race to Qatar 2022.
• The Falconets (U20) qualified for the World Cup holding in Costa Rica.
• The Flamingoes (U17) qualified for the World Cup in India.
• Asisat Oshoala won African Best player award for the fifth time. No Nigerian male player among the top list at the CAF Award held in Morocco last week.
• Rasheedat Ajibade was named joint top scorer at WAFCON.
• Mimisen Iyorhe Onwuka officiated at the WAFCON final in Morocco.
• Mimisen Iyorhe Onwuka is the only Nigerian referee selected for the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.
• Ndidi Madu officiated at the WAFCON in Morocco, becoming the first Nigerian referee (male or female) to use the VAR.
In football, Nigeria’s senior men’s national now finds it difficult to beat some countries seen as minnows in the round leather game. Unlike in the past, when some countries developed cold feet at the mention of the Super Eagles, the situation has changed, no thanks to poor administration and ‘sit-tight’ attitude of top officials of the NFF.
Even at continental tournaments, Nigeria’s male clubs have become easy prey to their opponents from Sudan, Egypt, South Africa and Morocco.
How did Enyimba succeed in the CAF Champions League in the early 2000?
Till date, many athletics-loving Nigerians still remember the historic moment at Sydney 2000 Olympics, where Nigeria grabbed a silver medal in the 4×400 metres through the efforts of Clement Chukwu, Jude Monye, Sunday Bada and Enefiok Udo-Obong. The silver has since been upgraded to gold.
In Nigeria, the women are largely seen as the ‘weaker sex,’ but the situation seems to have changed as far as sporting events are concerned. Nigeria’s men are now the ones playing second fiddle to women athletes and players. Men hardly climb the podium at international events to receive medals.
But for Tobi Amusan’s record-breaking effort last Sunday at Oregon 2022, Nigeria’s national anthem would not have been heard in the history of the World Athletics Championship.
Perhaps, the best effort by Nigeria’s men in the championship was in Athens, Greece, in 1997, where the 4x100m team comprising Osmond Ezinwa, Davidson Ezinwa, Francis Obiekwelu and Olapade Adenikan ran 37.94m to win a medal (not gold) with an African record.
Two years later, the 37. 91seconds of Asonze Innocent, Francis Obikwelu, Davidson Ezinwa and Deji Aliu at Seville, Spain (1999) also gave Nigeria a podium mention (not gold).
Before then, Innocent Egbunike ran 31.97 seconds in 400m to retire his own African record in 1986 in London (not gold).
Before Sunday’s historic moment by Tobi Amusan, other Nigerian women had dominated the World Championships, though their efforts could not fetch Nigeria gold.
The feats of Mary Onyali in 100m and 200 metres, Falilat Ogukoya in 400m, Chioma Ajunwa, Olabisi Afolabi, Fatima Yusuf and Charity Opara, among others cannot be wished away.
Former Spokesman of the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC), Tony Nezianya, who is now the Managing Director/CEC, PhilTon Communications Ltd, said Nigerian women have always been great.
“They are regularly doing the country proud. Their efforts can never be in vain. I tuwale for our Women.” The Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Samuel Onikeku, in his response to a message from The Guardian said: “I am sure our men will take up the challenge very soon. We now have some young and talented athletes, who are capable of taking Nigerian athletics to its good old days. Watch out for them at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.”
S’Falcons Edge Lionesses, Await Banyana For Olympic Ticket
After a goalless first leg encounter in Cameroon in the third round qualifier for the women’s football event at the 2024 Olympic Games in France, the Super Falcons of Nigeria edged the Indomitable Lionesses by 1-0 aggregate score line to reach the final round of qualifiers.
The second leg was pivotal for the Super Falcons considering that their opponent’s stifled them in a goalless draw at Stade de la Reunification in Douala last Friday.
Competing on home ground on Monday, the Nigerian team started the match strongly and saw their efforts rewarded in the 14th minute when Esther Okoronkwo scored the opening goal, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.
During the second half, the Nigerian team implemented several tactical adjustments aimed at consolidating their lead.
In the 91st minute, Cameroon’s Annie Enganemben was shown a straight red card and was subsequently sent off, as Nigeria held onto their lead to walk away 1-0 victors and progress to the final round of the Summer Olympics qualifiers after winning the tie 1-0 on aggregate.
The Super Falcons have their sights set on qualifying for their first Olympics since their last appearance in Beijing 2008.
Their win against Cameroon could pave the way for a highly anticipated matchup against African champions South Africa in the final round of qualifiers in April 2024.
The Super Falcons hold the distinction of being the most successful international women’s football team, boasting a record eleven Women’s Africa Cup of Nations titles. Their last triumph came in 2018 when they defeated Banyana Banyana in the final.
Furthermore, the team stands alone as the only women’s national team from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to have reached the quarter-finals in both the Fifa Women’s World Cup and the Summer Olympics competitions.
The Super Falcons await the outcome of the match between South Africa and Tanzania, scheduled for yesterday, to determine their next opponent.
Banyana Banyana held a significant advantage following their 3-0 victory in the first leg.
Rivers Hoopers Sign American For Basketball Africa League
Rivers Hoopers have completed the signing of Will Perry for the 2024 Basketball Africa League.
Perry, who played for Ferroviario da Beira for two consecutive seasons, helped his team reach the quarter final of the 2023 BAL.
The American tied the BAL record for most points scored in a game and also set a record for most three-pointers made in a single game. He set the record when he scored 41 points and 8 assists including 9 three-pointers in Beira’s 109-97 win over SLAC at the 2023 BAL Nile Conference.
Perry was awarded the 2023 BAL sportsmanship award for his fairness and role played during the season.
The point guard averaged 17 points, 6.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds in the Basketball Africa League season three.
The 29 year old has previously played for CB Zamora of Spain, ADO Basquetebol SAD Ovarense (Portugal) and Akademiks Bulteks 99 Plovdiv (Bulgaria) before playing on the African continent.
He becomes the first major signing made by the reigning Nigeria Premier Basketball League champions as they prepare for their second appearance at the BAL.
Tennis: Coach Banks On Quadri For African Games
Nigeria’s table tennis coach, Segun Toriola, admits being nervous leading the Nigerian team to the forthcoming African Games in Ghana next month, but is counting on Aruna Quadri to maintain the country’s dominance in the sport when the competition begins, Tidesports source gathered.
Toriola who took over from Nosiru Bello last December, was without Quadri in his first major tournament at the World Table Tennis Championship in Busan, South Korea where Team Nigeria failed to record a win at the tournament.
Quadri had pulled out of the tournament ITTF World Table Tennis Championships due to food poisoning but has since recovered and is ready to feature at the African Games tournament according to Toriola.
“I’m in touch with him (Quadri),” Toriola said.
“I spoke with him. He is now okay and he is going to participate in the African Games. He is ready. And everybody in the team is happy about that. I’m in touch with him. I spoke to him. He is taking care of himself and so he is going to play. He is aiming for his first African Games gold medal.”
At the last edition of the African Games in Rabat, Morocco, Nigeria were ranked second after winning 10 medals (two gold, four silver and four bronze) and have finished among the top three in the last four editions of the competitions.
In men’s singles event in 2019, Olajide Omotayo won gold, Quadri Aruna silver while Toriola clinched bronze. Toriola and Omotayo won bronze in the men’s doubles event, just as Quadri Toriola and Omotayo won silver in the team event.
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