Falcons battle Lionesses with Eagles’ loss 16 years ago on their minds
Nigeria relocates to Yaounde for final
Super Falcons midfielder, Success Wogu, was barely a year old when Nigeria and Ghana co-hosted the African Nations Cup for men in the year 2000. By then, the team reserve goalkeeper, Rita Akarekor, was not yet born.
The duo of Wogu and Akarekor are the youngest players in the Super Falcons squad currently seeking their eight African Nations Cup title at the on-going African Women’s Nations Cup in Cameroon. While Wogu, who plies her soccer trade with Rivers Angels of Port Harcourt, was born on January 28, 1999, the goalkeeper, Akarekor, who plays for Delta Queens of Asaba, was born on February 13, 2001.
Though, she was a baby when the Lions of Cameroon sent many Nigerians to early bed on that fateful night at the National Stadium in Lagos during the 2000 African Nations Cup, Wogu says she had been told stories of what transpired in that epic final.
“I was still a little baby then, but I have read so many stories on how the Lions of Cameroon defeated the Super Eagles in Lagos to win the Nations Cup trophy in 2000,” Wogu, who came in as a substitute for Francisca Ordega during Tuesday’s semifinal against the Banyana Banyana of South Africa, told The Guardian at the hilltop Omisport Stadium. “As soon as the referee ended the match, my mind went to that incident in Lagos since we will be meeting the host nation, Lionesses of Cameroon, in the final. It will be a sweet revenge if we can beat them in front of their home crowd on Saturday in Yaounde,” she stated.
Apart from Wogu, other players in the Super Falcons are looking forward to paying the people of Cameroon in their own coins for the ‘sin’ the likes of Samuel Eto’o and Rigoberg Song committed against Nigerians 16 years ago in Lagos.
In that final, former African Footballer of the Year, Victor Ikpeba, now a member of the NFF Technical Committee, gifted the Camerounians the trophy for his ‘schoolboy’ attitude by putting his hands on his head to express regret after his penalty kick actually crossed the line. His action helped the referee to rule that the ball did not cross the line.
Ikpeba and that golden generation of the Super Eagles, including Austin Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Daniel Amokachi, George Finidi, Emmanuel Amuneke and Ike Shorunmu did not get to play in the final of the African Nations Cup again.
Sixteen years after, the people of Cameroon are hosting the women’s version of the African Nations Cup, and the Nigerians see Saturday’s final as a golden opportunity to pay back.