With the year slowly coming to an end, Trust Sports takes a cursory look into the successes, failures, scandals that engulfed the Nigeria sports industry in 2019.

The highs

Ese Brume won Nigeria’s 1st World Championships medal in 6 years

On October 6, Brume picked up Nigeria’s first and only medal at the Athletics World Championship in Doha, winning Bronze in the Long jump event. Brume leaped to a 6.91 mark (+0.3 wind) in her second attempt and was beaten by an inch to miss out on Silver to Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk.

She also became Nigeria’s third field athlete in history to win a medal, taking the country’s tally up to nine medals won since the World Championships commenced in 1983.

D’Tigress win 2019 AfroBasket title

In August, D’Tigress defeated Senegal 60-55 to retain Afrobasket crown and win 4th African Title to become the first team to win back-to-back FIBA Women’s AfroBasket titles since Angola followed up their 2011 triumph with another in 2013.

This current squad is arguably Nigeria’s best female Basketball side in history as they are the first African side ever to get to the quarterfinals of a FIBA World Championships in 2018.

Enyimba win 8th NPFL title

The ‘People’s Elephant’ claimed the 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League title after an impressive 3-0 defeat of Akwa United while ending the Super Six Championship Playoffs with 12 points from 5 matches.

It was the record eighth Nigeria league crown of Enyimba after winning the league 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2015.

Rivers Angels win 5th NWPL title

In November, Rivers Angels emerged winners of the 2019 Nigeria Women Premier League (NWPL) title after winning the Super 4 tournament that held at the Agege Township Stadium in Lagos.

It was the fifth time the Port Harcourt-based side will be winning the NWPL title just as they received a cash prize of 3 million and a one-week tour to Spain as part of the Laliga/NWFL partnership deal.

Kano Pillars win Aiteo Cup after 29 years wait

Pillars made history after ending their 29 years wait to win 2019 Aiteo Cup following a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Niger Tornadoes at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in July.

Masu Gida who have reached the finals twice in 1990 and 2018 before finally broke their duck with a hard-fought victory to cart home the sum of N25 million (about $ 69,832) as prize money.

Nasarawa’s Amazons win Women’s Aiteo Cup final

At the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Nasarawa Amazons dethroned Rivers Angels 5-4 on penalties after they ended goalless in regulation time. It was the club’s second successful outing coming 14 years after they claimed their first win in 2005 and they pocketed the sum of N10 million (about $27,932) as prize money.

Super Falcons reach the knockout stages of World Cup

Nine time African champions, Super Falcons ended their 20-year wait for a spot in the playoffs after advancing to the Round of 16 of the Women’s World Cup in France in June.

The Super Falcons had failed to go beyond the group stage of the competition since 1999, when they reached the quarter-final in the USA.

Nigeria secured the last spot among the four best third-placed teams, on superior goals scored.

The African champions had lost 3-0 to Norway in Reims, but defeated South Korea 2-0 in Grenoble, before bowing to Les Bleues in their final Group A match in Rennes.

The Lows

AFN/IAAF financial scandal

This was the scandal of the year as it painted Nigeria bad before the world as corrupt and dishonest people.

In May 2017, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) paid a grant of $150,000 into the account of its Nigerian counterpart, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). Only that it overpaid, in the excess of $135,000. Nigeria kept mum.

In November 2017, after the IAAF discovered its error, it set up a meeting with the President of the AFN, Ibrahim Gusau, and followed it up with letters, asking Nigeria to return the excess. The Ministry of Sports and the AFN stoically maintained their silence.

However, the immediate and current sports ministers, Solomon Dalung and Sunday Dare at different times paid off the money to save Nigeria from further disgrace.

Olympic Eagles failure to qualify for 2020 Olympics, U-23 AFCON

Cup holders, the Olympic Eagles of Nigeria, were knocked out of the 2019 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations following a 0-0 draw with South Africa at the Al Salam Stadium, Cairo on Friday night.

The Olympic Eagles finished in third position in Group B with four points from three matches.

The team failure at the 2019 AFCON also meant they won’t feature at the men’s football event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Falcons fail to win Olympics ticket

The Super Falcons won’t feature in the women’s football event at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan after playing out a disappointing 1-1 draw against their Ivorian counterparts in October during their African qualifying second round second leg tie at the Agege Stadium, Lagos.

Having played a barren draw in the first leg in Abidjan against Les Femelles Elephantes of Cote d’Ivoire, the Nigerian women were edged out via the away goals rule.

This the third successive edition of the Olympic Games that the Super Falcons will be failing to qualify for having also missed out on the London 2012 and Rio Olympics in 2016.

Deaths of sports personalities

Solomon Ogbeide

The veteran coach passed away on May 20, 2019, after reportedly slumping and declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

Until his death, Ogbeide was the head coach of Nigeria Professional Football League side, Lobi Stars, a team he joined in 2017 after previous NPFL teams including Warri Wolves, Sunshine Stars among others

Isaac Promise

The former Nigeria international passed away at his base in the United States of America aged 31.

He captained Nigeria to the 2003 FIFA U17 World Cup held in Finland, as well as the 2005 FIFA U20 World Cup in the Netherlands where the Flying Eagles were runners-up to Argentina.

At the 2008 Olympics, he played a key role in Nigeria’s silver medal finish in Beijing scoring in the 2-1 triumph over the United States in the group stage.

The player was buried December 14 in Umudim, Ohekelem, Ngor Okpala LGA of Imo State

Ifeanyi Chiejine

The former Super Falcons striker and maiden captain of the female under 19 team (The Falconets) died on August 21, 2019

Chiejine, 36, died after a brief illness.

The former Super Falcons forward made history in 1999 when she became the youngest player ever to play at the Women’s World Cup for Nigeria.

Philip Osondu

The Golden Ball winner at the 1987 U17 World Cup died December 13 in Belgium after a brief incident, aged 48.

Osondu played regularly for the youth teams of Nigeria, but never had the chance to play for the senior national team.

Tobias Igwe

He was one of the foremost athletics coaches in Nigeria, Igwe died on December 19.

Fondly referred to as ‘Toblow,’ the veteran coach died from complications from high blood pressure and partial stroke.

Akinloye Oyebanji

A veteran sports journalist and retired Director of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Akinloye Oyebanji died at 62.

Taiwo Ogunjobi

The former international defender and Nigeria Football Federation secretary-general died in Ibadan on February 11, 2019.

While Ogunjobi was the NFF scribe between 2002 and 2005, he was a member of the NFF Executive Committee between 2006 and 2010. Ogunjobi died at 65

Manga Mohammed

He was a member of Nigeria’s U-17 team at the 1993 FIFA U-17 World Cup led by Kanu Nwankwo and Wilson Oruma. The team went on to win the FIFA U-17 trophy for the second time in Japan. The former winger died aged 42.

Alex Akinyele

A former sports minister, Alex Akinyele, died in November. He served as information minister under Ibrahim Babangida, Nigeria’s military ruler between 1985 and 1993.

It was also during Mr Babangida’s tenure that Mr Akinyele led the Nigerian Sports Commission.

John Obeya

He was an athletics coach and died in Jos, Plateau state capital after complaining of stomach ache. He was aged 65.

Until his death,Obeya was a sprints coach with the Bahrain Athletics Association and was instrumental to the recruitment of reigning world 400m champion, Salwa Eid Naser (formerly Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu) by Bahrain in 2014.

Source: African News Agency