Highlights Of COPA Lagos 2017
At about 2 pm on a Sunny Sunday at the Eko Atlantic, Lagos, the fan zone at the ‘Copa Lagos Beach Soccer’ mini-city was already buzzing with fans chanting and dancing in anticipation of the final day of the prestigious Copa Lagos Beach Soccer tournament 2017.
The atmosphere was exhilarating, beyond the football, there was a colourful display of African Culture and Fashion, seen among the fans and guests at the stadium, from vibrant African prints to ethnic paintings, food, and the music blasting loudly in the air.
With the stage set, fans ecstatic, and the sandy pitch shimmering in the sunlight, the days sporting events kicked off with a match between the Kebbi Stars and the Pepsi Academy football team.
It was a game of three quarters, each with a duration of 12 minutes. The Kebbi stars were the dominant side in the game, they took the lead early in the first quarter and maintained their lead until the end of the game, which they won with a score line of nine goals to four (9-4).
The next game was between Lebanon and Morocco! This game has professionalism written all over it, as tight a game as football games get. Morocco took the lead early in the first quarter with two goals, after which Lebanon was unable to pull any goal back. The game ended two goals to zero (2-0) in favour of Morocco.
It was surprising to see the number of Moroccan fans that were present in the fan zone; they cheered their team up from the start to the finish of the game.
The next game was the celebrity showdown! A game of two sides, packed with big names in the Nigerian Entertainment industry on one side, the likes of Solid Star, Sound Sultan, Jimmy, Dada boy Ehiz, and also Nigerian Veteran Soccer stars on the other, some of which were Victor Ikpeba, Austin Eguavoen, Victor Agali among others.
As you would imagine, the fans were very excited to see this game, though more of fun than professionalism. The Ex internationals won the game by four goals to two (4-2).
The third and penultimate game of the day was between Arsenal Beach Soccer Club and the Gidi Sharks. It was a spirited performance by the boys from Lagos on this occasion, but the flair and quality of the boys from England was overwhelming. The final score-line was nine goals to five (9-5), in favour of Arsenal Beach Soccer Club.
It was rather obvious that the last game was the most anticipated game, as its introduction alone triggered more noise from the crowd than the entire day. This showdown was between the Nigerian Beach Soccer team ‘The Sand Eagles’ and the Spanish beach soccer team.
The crowd was buzzing and cheering, enough to intimidate the boys from Spain. Nigeria conceded the first goal but equalized almost immediately in the first quarter. After going down again to a fantastic overhead kick from one of the Spanish boys, the Nigerian team came charging back and scored two goals in quick succession to take the lead.
The crowd exploded, this was football at its best, the Nigerian spirit and culture at its best, an absolutely wonderful scene.
It was unfortunate though, that after the third quarter, the Sand Eagles lost to the Spanish boys by 6 goals to 5, handing them their first ever COPA Lagos title.
Beyond the games, beyond the trophy, the spirit of togetherness that football brings in Nigeria was exemplified in the COPA Lagos tournament this year and it was indeed a beautiful experience.