The atmosphere was electrifying. The stadium was filled up above capacity. About 40,000 fans in a 25,000 capacity stadium. Flood lights and scoreboards became seats for the fans. The gates were open, no dime was paid, no value was placed.
Jam packed, it looked dangerous. Tickets were useless because a good number had to scale in to the stadium. Safety was thrown the wind. Victory was needed by hook or crook. It was loud, filled enthusiastic fans, expressing their love for the Super Eagles.
It was the begining of an era – a mini-era. An era with Siasia as interim boss and Mikel the captain. It was Nigeria’s third game in the 2017 AFCON qualifier. But with so many changes, it also features Nigeria’s third coach and captain in the qualifier. Nigeria needed atleast a third goal to secure a victory. Since the opening day 2-0 victory over Chad, the Eagles were yet to score.
Iheanacho grabbed a starting role with Arsenal’s Iwobi on the bench. Etebo scored for the Super Eagles in the 61st minute to bring the mood up to cloud 7. Experience football followers know how 1-0 leads could be. Udoji and his Enyimba are custodians of maintaining a 1-0 lead till the end.
England’s hopes of snatching Iwobi were dashed later in the game when the young lad came on as a substitute in the game. He featured for England in previous tournaments but will never play for the Three Lions. Will Akpom follow?
The game had the regulars – misses, near misses, goal-line clearances, crosses , saves etc. Then came the 90 and Salah happened. Silence. 1-1.
The atmosphere went from cloud 7 to 0. The fans became dumb. The commentators were shaken. Hands went to heads, mouths left open, heads wagging and thoughts pondered. There was silence – wholesome silence. From North to South, the silence was deafening. Even car horns went off.
The three points had to be shared with two points seperating the sides till Tuesday in Cairo. Will the Super Eagles make us shout again?
There will be a lot to shout tomorrow in the 9th Matchday of the Nigeria Professional Football League with the Oriental derby the Cremè de la cremè of the day – Rangers vs Enyimba.
Don’t be sober. Just believe and be happy.