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My debut AFCON bronze medal is golden, says Etebo

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Nigeria’s midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo (O) vies for the ball with Madagascar’s midfielder Marco Ilaimaharitra during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Group B football match between Madagascar and Nigeria at the Alexandria Stadium on June 30, 2019. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

Super Eagles midfielder, Oghenekaro Etebo is still celebrating the bronze medal he won at the just concluded Egypt 2019 African Cup of Nations, which was his first appearance in the competition.

Etebo had just made his professional debut for Warri Wolves in 2013 when Coach Stephen Keshi led the Super Eagles to win the AFCON title in South Africa. His dream of making his first appearance in 2015 could not materialize as Nigeria failed to qualify for the competition. The Super Eagles could not also make it to Gabon 2017 when the Coach Samson Siasia-led team lost the ticket to Egypt.

At the Egypt 2019 edition of the competition, Etebo featured in all seven matches the Super Eagles played, winning in five against Burundi, Guinea, Cameroun, and South Africa and Tunisia. The team lost to Madagascar in their last group match in Alexandria and to Algeria in the semifinal.

Etebo told The Guardian on an Egypt Air flight from Cairo to Lagos that he was excited to have struck a bronze medal in his first AFCON appearance.

“I really feel on top of the world winning the bronze medal in my first AFCON appearance because many African players waited for years for the opportunity but could not get it before they retired. When we lost to Algeria in the semifinal, some of us could not sleep. But we quickly adjusted for the third place match and thank God we got the bronze,” Etebo stated.

Etebo, who is of Isoko tribe in Delta State, began his youth career at Lord Honour FC in 2011 before he moved to Warri Wolves academy in 2012. It was while he was at the Warri Wolves he got a call-up by the late coach Stephen Keshi to feature for the Super Eagles in a qualifier for the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

From there he was invited to the Dream Team by Coach Samson Siasia and went on to score the winning goals as Nigeria won the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations to qualify for Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Etebo helped Nigeria to win a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, emerging as the highest goal scorer. He went on to feature as a starter in all of the Super Eagles games at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Reminiscing on the team’s performance in Egypt, Etebo said: “It was a good performance for us because many people actually wrote us off, especially after we lost to Madagascar in the last group match in Alexandria. I must praise the effort of our coach for his technical input. We are going back to Nigeria with our head high because the bronze medal is batter than nothing. We really appreciate the support from all Nigerians, and I am sure the Super Eagles will perform better next time.”


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