No doubt, the year 2022 will remain unforgettable for many sports-loving Nigerians for different reasons.
Athletics in Nigeria recorded its peak in 2022. From the country’s participation in the World Championships in Oregon, USA, to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, it was an unforgettable year for the country.
First on the list of athletes making Nigeria the topic of conversation were Tobiloba Amusan and Ese Brume. Amusan, who was named Africa’s 2022 Best Female Athlete of the Year by the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) last week, surpassed her contemporaries this year.
Just as Nigeria’s hopes for a medal were fading at the World Championships in Oregon, Amusan produced one of the biggest upsets of the championship, accelerating in a world record 12.12 seconds in the semifinals of the 100m hurdles, followed by a wind assisted 12.06 seconds in the final to win gold.
A few weeks later, Amusan won gold for the Nigerian team at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, where he also set a record. She went one step further by winning the Diamond League trophy for the second consecutive season, making her one of the best in the world and Africa’s undisputed number one in athletics in 2022.
Amusan, a former footballer from Ogun State, will be proud of her unprecedented feat in 2022 despite missing out on the World Female Athlete of the Year accolade, which was won by American Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone.
Amusan started 2022 with a successful defense of his African Championship title in Mauritius in early June. Thereafter, he was in Paris, where he improved his African record of 12.42 seconds by running 12.41 seconds at the Diamond League meeting in Paris.
In Benin City, Edo State, at the 2022 Nigerian Championships, Amusan effortlessly obliterated the record of 12.63 seconds set in 1997 by Angela Ateda by winning another national title for herself, having run an impressive 12, 58 seconds.
Long jumper Ese Brume has also brought Nigerian athletics to a new level in 2022. Delta State native Brume once again demonstrated why she remains the most consistent medal-winning Nigerian athlete in recent years.
Brume was the only Nigerian medalist at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade where she jumped to the Season Best (SB) 6.85m to win the silver medal. In doing this, she became Nigeria’s first world indoor medalist in 14 years since Olusoji Fasuba last won the 60m title in 2008.
At the World Outdoor Championships in Oregon, USA, Brume took a silver ‘gold’ medal with a brilliant season best result of 7.02m in the final. In the process, Brume made history as the first African (male or female) to win two long jump medals at the World Championships, in addition to his 2019 Doha bronze medal.
She is also the second Nigerian and African woman after Blessing Okagbare to stand on the long jump podium at the World Championships. Brume capped off his outstanding season at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, when his sixth jump (7.00m) broke the previous Games (GR) record of 6.99m and, in the process, regained his title. the Commonwealth of 2014.
This year, Brume became the first African woman to jump four legal marks over 7.00m. She reached 7m twice, jumping 7.02m to finish second in Oregon and her victorious GR mark in Birmingham.
While athletics brought joy to Nigerians in 2022, that was not the case for football as it seemed like a case of one step forward and two steps back. From the worst outing for the Super Eagles at AFCON 2022 in Cameroon, where they crashed in the round of 16, the failure to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, as well as lackluster outings at regional soccer tournaments, Nigerian football was nothing to write home about. about this year.
Qatar’s failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup was a major talking point about how the nation’s football deteriorated in 2022. After qualifying for the last three editions of the FIFA World Cup in 2010, 2014 and 2018 Many soccer-loving Nigerians were optimistic that the Super Eagles would add the party to Qatar, which hosted the first World Cup in the Middle East.
His level of optimism followed the Super Eagles’ promising start in Pool C in the second round of the qualifier, where Nigeria were grouped together with Cape Verde, Liberia and the Central African Republic (CAR).
.With only the first place team in each group (out of 10) eligible to qualify for the final qualifying round, the Super Eagles finished on top of the group with 13 points having won 4, tied 1 and lost 1. That was when The team was led by the German tactician, Gernot Rohr.
Augustine Eguavoen took over as manager of the Super Eagles, following protests from some Nigerians that Rohr’s team did not entertain enough. The 10 group winners were paired up to battle for Africa’s five places allotted to the World Cup, and the Super Eagles faced familiar foes, the Black Stars of Ghana in the final qualifying round.
After a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Cape Coast, Ghana, Eguavoen and ‘the gang’ played out a 1-1 draw in Abuja, thus missing out on the World Cup ticket on the away goal rule. , having failed to score at Cape Costa.
The poorest round of 16 exit in history in Cameroon
The last edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) held between January 9 and February 6, 2022 in Cameroon. Coach Gernot Rohr qualified the Super Eagles for the tournament by winning four games and drawing two in their group that included Sierra Leone, the Republic of Benin and Lesotho.
The ‘People’s Candidate’, Eguavoen, led the Super Eagles to the AFCON of Cameroon and was in Group D, along with Egypt, Sudan and Guinea Bissau.
Eguavoen started brightly by winning all the group stage matches in Garoua, thus raising the level of optimism for the Nigerians at home.
While some were quick to hold out hope for another AFCON victory since manager Stephen Keshi and his gang conquered the continent at South Africa 2013, others simply labeled the team a champion in waiting.
But Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles ‘cut’ Nigeria’s ticket in the round of 16 after beating the Super Eagles 1-0, an outing described as the nation’s worst performance in AFCON.
Sad departure of Super Falcons at AWCON
Prior to the Super Falcons’ trip to Morocco for the 2022 CAF Women’s Nations Cup (AWCON) between July 2-23, Nigeria was the most successful nation in Africa. But the nation’s history and reputation in women’s football was ruined in Morocco.
The Super Falcons not only crashed out in the semi-final after losing to hosts Morocco 5-4 on penalties, they also lost their third-place match 1-0 to Zambia to settle for fourth place.
The Super Falcons were the best in women’s football in Africa with local coaches, but ‘corruption’ caused the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to hire foreign coaches for the team.
And under former NFF president Pinnick Amaju, the once-famous Super Falcons fell out of favor in Morocco, the worst in Nigerian history.
The Super Falcons booked the ticket to Morocco 2022 as African champions and having won 11 of the 14 editions of AWCON. Signs that all was not well with the Super Falcons appeared when the team finished second in a group that included South Africa, Botswana and Burundi.
Despite the Super Falcons’ poorer record in Morocco, the NFF still has faith in American official coach Randy Waldrum ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup which will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. And barring a miracle, Coach Waldrum will be showing off the same old legs next year.
High-flying flamingos in India
PERHAPS the only good thing to come out of football in 2022 were the exploits of the Nigerian women’s under-17 team, the Flamingos, who won a ‘golden bronze’ for Nigeria in India. Their older sisters, the Super Falcons, had fumbled in Morocco.
Before their departure for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India, not much was known about the team led by coach Fatai Olowookere. But the girls gave a good account of themselves.
At India 2022, the Flamingos were drawn into Group B along with Germany, Chile and New Zealand. The Nigerians grabbed six points to finish second in the group.
A quarterfinal clash against the USA gave some Nigerians a nightmare, but a determined Flamingos dispatched the Americans 3-4 on penalties to advance to the semifinal, where they ultimately lost to Colombia 5-6 on penalties .
In the third place game against Germany, the Flamingos trailed 3-0 but fought back to level. They claimed the ‘golden bronze’ by beating the Europeans, Germany, 3-2 on penalties. The Flamingos’ third-place finish in India was the first time they had progressed past the quarter-final stage at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The best national sports festival in history
One of the highlights for Nigerian youth in 2022 was the celebration of the 21st National Sports Festival in the Delta state. For most of the athletes, their coaches, sports administrators and journalists, Delta 2022 was the best in the history of the National Sports Festival since it began in 1973.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, in his determination to host a beautiful Games, established a quality infrastructure that includes a new tartan rink at Stephen Keshi Stadium, two new indoor sports arenas, a new swimming pool, a new hockey arena in Okpanam and a new hostel for accommodation in Issele-Uku.
The Games saw the breaking of several national records and the setting of new ones in athletics. Some African champions were also dethroned in scrabble, among other events.
A look at 2023.
With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 already concluded, the attention of many football lovers around the world has been fixed on 2023. It will be a busy year for football all over the world and in Nigeria.
The luck of the draw has placed the Super Falcons in Group B alongside co-hosts Australia, the Republic of Ireland and Canada in the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Additionally, 2023 will see the resumption of FIFA’s age-matched men’s competition with the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups scheduled to take place in Peru and Indonesia respectively.
By: Gowon Akpodonor