After a great run at the ongoing 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Nigeria is out as the Super Eagles suffered a shock defeat to Tunisia in the first round of the knockout stages. The hurt from this match has reopened the proverbial ‘wound’ that fans often sustain from football losses. We reached out to five people who shared their heartbreaking stories from the losses Nigeria has suffered over the years:
The most painful match I have watched and will ultimately never forget is Nigeria vs. Argentina- the Olympic men’s football final in 2008. I can clearly remember that I was 10 years old when this match took place but being so young didn’t stop me from feeling the pain. I was in the living room with my uncle, watching the match and I had anticipated Nigeria’s win so bad that I cried when the game was lost. I cried so much and wouldn’t stop crying until my uncle called my mum and they both resorted to telling me that I shouldn’t worry myself anymore because Nigeria was going to be allowed to play a ‘return leg’. I can say that my dislike for Lionel Messi started then but currently, I’ve learned to like and respect the star player.
The match that hurt me the most is the 2018 FIFA World Cup where Nigeria played against Argentina. I honestly couldn’t get a grip on my emotions from the loss. I didn’t feel sad, it was more of a combination of anger and pain. I felt like we’d been cheated. It was like trying your best to meet up when everyone is expecting you to, knowing that they can see the passion the game brings to its people. It was a nice feeling to have people from other countries rooting for us to win but it felt just as heartbreaking when we lost the game.
A hurt that has remained in my heart till the present date is one that I felt in 1994 when I watched the Round of 16 match between Nigeria and Italy in my Principal’s house in a village in Cross River State. The pain I felt when we lost was so much that I cried immediately after the match. What annoyed me the most was the fact that Nigeria was so close to winning and was obviously the better side in my opinion. Crying my eyes out wasn’t where it ended for me because I also lost my appetite following this painful match. Losing yesterday in the AFCON game just made me remember the 1994 match all over again.
When people talk about original football heartbreak, it makes me travel back in time to the year 2000 when Nigeria lost the ‘winner of AFCON’ title to Cameroon. Those people beat us in our own house! It was the final match and I had already anticipated Nigeria’s win so I decided to place a bet with my brother since we were both watching it in his house in Lagos. It was a day to valentine’s day, February 13, and I confidently told my brother that I’d give him all the gifts I got for Valentine’s day if Nigeria lost. That was how I lost all my gifts that year, it really pained me, to be honest. I can still remember how shocked I was when Cameroon scored that penalty.
I watched Nigeria vs. Tunisia alone in my house yesterday and the anger I felt was out of this world. I initially thought it was going to be an easy win for us and there was this smidgen of hope in me that we could actually win the ongoing AFCON 2021. Well, that was until the nonsense happened and we were struggling to score just one goal. Then the referee went ahead to make it worse for us with his bad officiating. I was especially expectant of Nigeria’s victory yesterday because we’ve had a good run so far with Nigeria having the highest points in the tournament. The most painful part for me was that we lost that amazing record after playing against Tunisia, a team I consider to be struggling. Even more annoying was the fact that they were not necessarily at full strength due to COVID.
This article is based on real-life events. Names used are mere pseudonyms to protect the identities of the individuals mentioned in the article.
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