For the Nigerian sports faithful, the year 2022 did not exactly meet their expectations following some poor results from the country’s athletes. EBENEZER BAJELA and ABIODUN ADEWALE take a look at some of the athletes/teams that put in low-key performances this year
Sorting the wheat from the chaff in the Super Eagles for 2022 is difficult because few of the players were individually brilliant, but as a group, their performance was unacceptable.
The senior men’s team started the year on a promising note at AFCON Cameroon; starting their bid for a fourth title with a famous victory over Egypt before posting a record 100 per cent in the group stage. But the tables turned in the round of 16 against Tunisia and the Nigerians soon began looking for blame and scapegoats among a team that was labeled as brilliant.
Two months later, a ticket to Qatar 2022 against Ghana was on the line, and the Eagles bottled it in front of a packed MKO Abiola stadium in Abuja, just as millions were also disappointed to fail to qualify for the World Cup. Just three months into the year, the last straw had already broken the camel’s back.
Apart from victories against Sierra Leone and Sao Tome and Principe in the 2023 AFCON qualifiers, the Eagles were disappointing in friendly matches against Mexico, Ecuador, Algeria and Portugal.
Along with the Eagles, among the flops of the year is the country’s men’s basketball team, D’Tigers, who performed poorly in the final window of FIBA World Cup 2023 qualifying in Ivory Coast.
D’Tigers recorded one win in three games, losing 78-66 to hosts Ivory Coast in their first game at the 3,500-capacity Palais des Sports Treichville and putting their hopes of next year’s World Cup qualification on a tight corner
The 2015 AfroBasket winners recorded an 89-70 win over Guinea in their second game to bounce back from their earlier loss to the Ivorians, but were blown in their last game of the series, losing 70-67 to Angola.
With the final window in February 2023, the D’Tigers’ chances of qualifying for the FIBA Basketball World Cup are scheduled from August 25 to September 10, 2023 in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Like their men’s counterparts, the Super Falcons fell short of the game after a disappointing performance saw them knocked out of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco in July.
For the first time in their history in the competition, the girls coached by Randy Waldrum were eliminated in the WAFCON quarterfinals by a less fanciful team from Morocco, a tournament in which they had become their specialty after winning a record 9 times. of 11 editions.
One of the scapegoats for the Super Eagles’ slump in 2022, goalkeeper Maduka Okoye would have wanted something different in 2022 after having moved up through club and national team level.
After Nigeria’s AFCON elimination, Okoye stepped into the spotlight with his Dutch side Sparta Rotterdam helping them escape relegation.
But a move to Watford in the EPL followed his Eredivise heroics, and his club career appears to have taken a nosedive since joining Watford. He has yet to make a league appearance since he joined in the summer.
For a player who has struggled to remain consistent at club and national team level, Kelechi Iheanacho did little to make himself indispensable at Leicester and the Super Eagles.
Maybe Ihenancho’s struggle started in the previous EPL campaign, his once amazing run for the Foxes came to a halt and he seems to be paying no attention to it.
In 37 combined premier league appearances for Leicester since the start of the 2021/22 season, the player has managed just five goals.
After the goal and the redeeming performance of Nigeria against Egypt in the AFCON in Cameroon, the man who needed to show his face and justify his return to the national team was not seen so much.
NPFL QUARTET (Enyimba, Kwara United, Plateau United, MFM)
By their own standards in the Nigeria Professional Football League, Enyimba International FC of Aba had a disappointing NPFL campaign in 2022. The Aba giants finished seventh in the league table with 52 points, 25 points behind winners Rivers United. Enyimba also failed to finish in the top four for the first time in five seasons.
Unlike Enyimba, MFM’s 2022 NPFL campaign needed a miracle; but that doesn’t win a football game. After six inspiring seasons in the top flight, the Olukoya boys were relegated to the second division after finishing bottom of the table with 36 points from 38 games.
For Kwara United, the Ilorin-based team earned a ticket to the CAF Confederation Cup on a golden platter at the end of the 2022 season. But after an impressive 3-1 win over RS Berkane in Lagos, the Harmony Boys they were unable to overcome preliminary hurdles in the second leg as they lost by the slimmest of margins in Morocco.
Like Kwara United, Plateau United also missed out on a ticket to the CAF Confederation Cup after blowing a 4-1 lead after losing 3-0 to Libya’s Al Akhdar.
No, thanks to both clubs and the expulsion of Remo Stars in the first round, 2022 was the best chance for Nigerian clubs to gain more representation on the continent.
Following the loss to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021, Joshua decided to leave his longtime coach and reunite with Robert Garcia, while also activating his rematch clause with the Ukrainian, securing a second meeting between the two heavyweights.
The result was the same as the first, as the British-Nigerian suffered another loss to Usyk in 2022 and failed to regain the WBO, WBA, IBO and IBF titles.
Joshua entered the contest as a huge underdog, and despite showing many new improvements to his game, he finished exhausted after a near-stoppage. He was beaten for the remainder of the contest before losing a split decision on the scorecards to end the year on another losing note.
Most recently, at UFC 281 on November 13 at Madison Square Garden, Adesanya lost his middleweight belt to his old kickboxing rival Alex Pereira to make it three losses at the hands of the Brazilian.
Adesanya came into the fight with an impeccable record in the UFC middleweight division seeking revenge against Pereira, who defeated him twice in kickboxing in 2016 and 2017.
The 33-year-old dominated the fight until the fifth round when Pereira knocked him out with a combination of punches.
The Last Stylebender now loses his first middleweight fight in MMA after five successful title defenses since becoming champion.