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Nigeria will today Sunday March 22, 2020 celebrate the ruby anniversary of her first AFCON title which was won by the then Green Eagles of Nigeria on Sunday March 22, 1980.
Coincidentally, the 40th anniversary fell on a Sunday, which happens to be the exact day of the week which the Green Eagles did the nation proud under the tutelage of Brazilian Coach Otto Gloria
Notwithstanding the fact that the world is currently been faced by the coronavirus, the historic date remains a fact which cannot be uttered as it was the 12th edition of the tournament.
The then Green Eagles beat Algeria 3-0 in the final to lift their first ever title on home soil, with two goals coming from Segun Odegbami in the 2’ and 42’ minutes, before Lawal scored a third in the 50’ minutes to perfect the victory.
Nigeria’s three players who were outstanding in that tournament made the CAF team of the tournament. They are Best Ogedegbe (Goalkeeper), Christian Chukwu (Defender), and Segun Odegbami (Forward).
More so, Segun Odegbami who scored two goals in the final against Algeria finished joint top scorer with Khalid Labied of Morocco with three goals each, perfecting a well deserved victory on home soil.
The 1980 African Cup of nations happens to be the only time Nigeria played three North African giants in a single AFCON tournament and emerged victorious to claim the title.
The three North African sides who bowed to Nigeria on home soil 40 years ago were Egypt (1-0 group stage), Morocco (1-0) semifinals and Algeria (3-0) finals.
The 22-man team list which made Nigerians proud in that very edition are shown on the table below with their current status:
Although some of the players who did the nation proud may have passed on to eternal glory, the memories and joy which that first ever AFCON title brought to Nigeria remains ever green.
It took Nigeria another 14 years before they won the second title in Tunisia.