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The highs and lows of Nigerian sports in 2022

There were a lot of expectations from Nigerians at the beginning of the year and it seemed like it was going to be a good…

There were a lot of expectations from Nigerians at the beginning of the year and it seemed like it was going to be a good year for sports when the Super Eagles emerged as the only country to win all group games at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

However, hopes began to fade as the year wore on as mixed results in different sports were recorded. Trust Sports brings to you the highs and lows in Nigerian sports in the year 2022 which ends in a few hours time. 

Memorable moments  

Birmingham Commonwealth Games success

The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom, between July 28 to August 8, was Team Nigeria’s best performance ever as the country won 12 gold, 9 silver and 14 bronze medals for an unprecedented 35 medals to place 7th on the medals table and also emerge the best ranked African country at the Games.

Amusan and Brume propelled Nigeria to best ever World Athletics performance

Nigeria achieved her best ever performance  at the World Athletics Championship in Oregon, the USA, winning 1 gold and 1 silver as Tobi Amusan set a new World Record in 100m hurdles while Ese Brume won silver in the long jump event. Amusan’s performances were truly stunning and filled with record after record and award after award. Though she missed out on winning the Global Award as the Best Female Athlete of the Year, she was undisputedly Africa’s best, as confirmed by the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA). Similarly, her friend and compatriot, Ese Brume, remains Nigeria’s most consistent athlete, and her exploits in 2022 vaulted her even higher up the country’s athlete rankings. The duo is presently the poster girls of Nigerian athletics.  

Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles emerge WAFU Kings

The Nigeria U-17 team emerged as the champions of the regional WAFU B U-17 tournament in June in Cape Coast after beating their counterparts from Burkina Faso 2-1 in the final match and their senior colleagues in the U-20 side, Flying Eagles defeated Benin Republic 3-1 to win the WAFU B U-20 for the first time in Niamey in May. Both the Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles have qualified for the AFCON in 2023.

Flamingos’ historic bronze in India

For the first time, Flamingos edged Germany to clinch a consolation bronze medal at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India. The win made Nigeria the second African side to have clinched bronze after Ghana won it in 2012.  

NFF elections

Against all odds, the 2022 NFF election was held in Benin City as the 8-year reign of former president, Amaj Pinnick, ended. President Muhammadu Buhari had waded into the leadership crisis in Nigerian football by directing that elections must hold as scheduled. Therefore, despite threats by the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN) Task Force, the election was held and a new president in person of Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau emerged to preside over the affairs of Nigerian football in the next four years.  

21st National Sports Festival

At a short notice, Delta State successfully hosted the 21st edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF) tagged Asaba 2022  from November 28 to December 10, with the host state winning their seventh title in a row.  

Low moments

Crisis in basketball

Nigeria’s D’Tigress had aimed to reach the quarter-finals at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney, Australia, in September after winning the 2021 Afrobasket championship for the third time in a row. However, the sole African representative couldn’t make it due to a federal government two-year ban which was later rescinded to the consternation of Nigerians. The ban was caused by the endless crisis in the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF).

Super Eagles and Home-based Eagles failures

After a disappointing outing at the 2022 AFCON in Cameroon where they failed to finish in the top three for the first time in many years, the Super Eagles failed to qualify for the recently concluded FIFA World Cup in Qatar after being knocked out in the playoffs by arch-rivals Ghana. The same fate befell the Home-based Super Eagles who lost out to Ghana as they failed to qualify for the 2023 African Nations Championship in Algeria.

Super Falcons shambolic AWCON performance

The Women’s National Team, the Super Falcons, failed to successfully defend their AWCON title after losing to Morocco in the semi-final of the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Morocco. However, they managed to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup which will be held in Australia and New Zealand next year.

Death of two football players in 72 hours

In a space of 72 hours, two immensely talented Nigerian professional football players passed away. First, it was the former Enyimba, Sunshine Stars, and Nasarawa United striker, Chinedu Udechukwu, who passed away and before the football fraternity could recover from the shock of his passing, a former Kano Pillars striker, Ebuka Odenigbo, also died after a brief illness in Makurdi.

Doping scandals

Two Nigerian athletes failed dope tests. First, was the young high jumper, David Aya, who failed a drugs test at World Athletics Junior Championships in Cali, Colombia while a member of the gold winning Nigerian women 4x100meters at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Grace Nkwokocha, allegedly failed a dope test. The team featuring Tobi Amusan, Rosemary Chukwuma, Favour Ofili and Grace Nwokocha, won gold with a new African record of 42.10s in Birmingham.

 Earlier in the year, Blessing Okagbare, received a 10-year ban for being part of an “organized doping regimen” and was later handed an extra one-year ban for additional doping violations

In February, the 33-year-old was handed her original ban for “multiple breaches of anti-doping rules”. She was suspended during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after failing a drug test.

NPFL clubs flop in the continent

The quartet of Rivers United, Plateau United, Remo Stars and Kwara United qualified to represent Nigeria in the 2022 CAF Inter-Clubs competitions but after lackluster performances, only title holders, Rivers United who started their campaign in the Champions League are left to continue in the second tier competition, the Confederation Cup. The trio of Plateau United, Remo Stars and Kwara United couldn’t last the distance as they all fell by the wayside in the early stages of their respective competitions. 

Face-off between IMC and NPFL Club Owners

 For weeks now, the NPFL club owners have been at loggerheads with the Interim Management Committee (IMC) over the format of the league to be used for the 2022/2023 season.

The IMC with the full support of the NFF proposed an abridged league format while the club owners are agitating for a full season which they said will end in July but the abridged season would end in May.

Things got to a head last week Wednesday as almost all the aggrieved club owners boycotted the draws conducted by the IMC in Abuja for the January 8, 2023 kick-off. The clubs have vowed not to take part in the abridged league.

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