Today, January 18, 2023, makes it exactly 50 years since the Nigerian national side, the then Green Eagles of Nigeria, recorded their first ever continental success in men’s football, after beating Guinea 2-0 in the final of the 1973 All Africa Games at the National Stadium in Lagos to win the gold medal in football.
As Nigeria celebrates her golden Jubilee anniversary of winning the All Africa Games medal in football today, it also gives an opportunity to review what the last 50 years has looked like for Nigeria in men’s football at the continental games.
The January 18, 1973 success was Nigeria’s first and only success at the continental games. aside that, they have reached the finals on three other occasions, in 1978, 2003 and 2019 where they won silver medals. In fact, even when they hosted the games in 2003 on home soil, many thought reaching the final was an opportunity to win the medal for a second time, but it eluded them on home soil.
Aside from winning three silver medals at the games on three occasions, Nigeria have won three bronze medals in football in 1991,1995 and 2015 confirming that they have reached the podium level on seven occasions, only to record a gold medal in men’s football at the games.
The memory of the gold medal which was won on home soil on January 18, 1973 still lingers, as Nigeria’s foremost sports journalist, Kunle Solaja, reported that “Even though Nigeria placed second behind Egypt in the overall medals table, the football gold medal was celebrated as if Nigeria had won the Africa Cup of Nations which the team had failed to qualify for since their inaugural participation in 1963”
Hopefully, such a memory which was felt fifty years ago, needs to be rekindled as part of the golden Jubilee anniversary. The Nigeria Football Federation under the leadership of Alh. Ibrahim Gusau needs to put hands on deck as Nigeria prepares to participate in the forthcoming football edition which will be hosted by Ghana in August this year.