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At 61st independence anniversary, Nigeria’s sports achievements are captured in 61 paragraphs




 Sports Village Square takes a peep down memory lane since Nigeria’s independence 61 years ago.  The findings are encapsulated in 60 paragraphs

  1. November 30, 1960 – Nigeria’s boxer, Dick Tiger won the Middleweight Championship of the British Empire by beating Canada’s Wilf Greaves by knock out in the ninth round.

2. October 23, 1962 – Dick Tiger of Nigeria beat America’s Gene Fullmer in San Francisco  to become the WBA champion

Dick Tiger

3. November 9, 1962 – Dick Tiger was recognized as World Middleweight Champion by the New York State Athletic Commission, the European Boxing Union and the British Boxing Board of Control.

4. August 10, 1963 – Dick Tiger became the WBC Middleweight champion and retained his WBA belt after beating Gene Fullman by knockout in the seventh round at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan.

5. October 10, 1964 – Nojim Maiyegun won Nigeria’s first ever medal at the Olympics when the light middleweight boxer shared the bronze medal with Józef Grzesiak of Poland.

6. October 21, 1965 – Dick Tiger regained his WBC and WBA belts which he had lost on December 7, 1963 to Joey Giardello at Atlantic City, New Jersey. He beat Giardello in New York to regain his crowns.

7. February 13, 1966 – For the first time, a Nigeria team wins a game in Ghana as the Sam Garba Okoye-inspired Nigerian Academicals which included Ismaila Mabo, Peter Anieke, and Tony Igwe, win 1-0 and followed up with a 2-1 win in the return leg in Lagos.


8. May 4, 1968 – Even though the Green Eagles lost 1-0 to Ethiopia, they pick the ticket to feature at the Mexico ’68 Olympics. The first time a Nigeria team will feature in a global tournament. 

9. August 26, 1972 – Isaac Ikhouria won a bronze medal in the boxing event of the Munich Olympic Games.

10. January 18, 1973 – Nigeria’s first continental honours, as the Green Eagles win the gold medal of the football event of the 2nd All Africa Games.

11. March 14, 1976 – Nigeria’s return to the African Nations Cup finals after 13 years absence is marked with an impressive third place position after beating Egypt 3-2. The highlight of the match was the spectacular winning goal scored by Muda.

12. April 18, 1976 – Nigeria pick the ticket for the Montreal Olympics after eliminating the current African champions, Morocco, 3-2 on aggregate. The Nigerian side however pulled out of the Olympics along with the other African countries.


13. December 12, 1976 – Shooting Stars become the first Nigerian club side to win a continental title after a 4-2 aggregate win over Roger Milla inspired- Cameroon’s Tonerre Kalara in the African Winners Cup competition. 

14. December 5, 1977 – Rangers win the African Winners Cup after beating Cameroon’s Canon Yaoundé 5-2 on aggregate. 

15. March 22, 1980 – In front of enthusiastic crowd, including President Shehu Shagari, Nigeria win the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time.

Nigeria wins the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time

16. April 6, 1983 – For the first time, Nigeria win the African Youth Championship (Tessema Cup after beating Cote d’Ivoire 4-3 on aggregate) and qualify for the World Youth Championship. It is the first time, Nigeria are in a FIFA event.

17. June 4, 1983 – Nigeria unexpectedly beat former champions, USSR, 1-0, in one of the opening matches of the 1983 World Youth Championship (now Under 20 World Cup). It is a sign of good things to come. It was the first time a Nigerian football team won a match organized by FIFA at global level.

18. July 28, 1984 – The Nigerian 4 x 400 team of Innocent Egbunike, Sunday Uti, Rotimi Peters and Moses Ugbusien won the bronze medal at the Los Angeles Olympics.


19. July 28, 1984 – Peter Konyengwachie won the silver medal in the featherweight category of boxing at the Los Angeles Olympics.

20. August 11, 1985 – Nigeria beat Germany 2-0 to win the inaugural FIFA Under 16 Tournament in China. It is the first time a team outside Europe and South Africa will win a major global event.

Nigeria wins the first of five U-17 World Cup titles

21. February 16, 1989 – When Christopher Ohenhen fired from a 15 metre spot kick in the match against hosts, Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the World Youth Championship (now U20 World Cup), it was not just the winning goal of the 2-1 score line, it was a milestone, the 500th since the competition began in 1977.

22. December 8, 1990 – BCC Lions became the third Nigerian club side to win the African Winners Cup as they beat Tunisia’s Club Africaine.

23. July 25, 1992 – Richard Igbineghu won a silver medal in the Super Heavyweight category of boxing at the Barcelona Olympics. Also, David Izonritei won silver medal in heavy weight category after losing to Cuba’s Felix Savon in the final.

24. July 25, 1992 – The Nigerian quartet of Osmond Ezenwa, Oluyemi Kayode, Olapade Adeniken and Davidson Ezinwa won the silver medal in 4x100m Men at the Barcelona Olympics.


25. July 25, 1992 – The Nigerian quartet of Mary Onyali, Faith Idehen, Christy Opara-Thompson and Beatrice Utondu won the bronze medal in 4x100m Women at the Barcelona Olympics.

26. November 28, 1992 – Shooting Stars win the inaugural CAF Cup after beating Uganda’s Nakivibu Vila 3-0 on aggregate at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan.

27. September 4, 1993 – Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets beat Ghana, 2-1 in the final to win the FIFA Under -17 World Cup in Japan.

28. October 8, 1993 – For the first time since debut entry in 1959, Nigeria qualify for the FIFA World Cup final after a 1-1 draw with Algeria in Algiers.

29. April 10, 1994 – Nigeria are African champions again, after beating Zambia 2-1 in the final match in Tunis.


30. June 21, 1994 – Nigeria make a good debut in the World Cup, beating Bulgaria 3-0.

31. December 4, 1994 – Bendel Insurance win the CAF Cup for Nigeria.

32 July 29, 1996 – Falilat Ogunkoya became Nigeria’s first individual woman Olympic medallist when she won bronze medal in 400 metres at the Atlanta Olympics

33. August 2, 1996 – Chioma Ajunwa produced an amazing first round leap of 7.12m to become Nigeria’s first Olympic medallist.

Chioma Ajunwa wins Nigeria’s first gold medal at the Olympics

34. August 3, 1996 – The Nigerian quartet of Falilat Ogunkoya, Fatima Yusuf, Christy Opara and Bisi Afolabi won the silver medal in 4x400m Women at the Atlanta Olympics.

35. August 3, 1996 – Nigeria win the gold medal of the football event of the Atlanta ’96 Olympics. It is the first time a team outside Europe will do that in 68 years. Nigeria also put an end to Europe’s successive victory. Since, no European team has won.


36. August 4, 1996 – Duncan Dokiwari wins a bronze medal in the super heavyweight category of boxing at the Atlanta Olympics.

37. October 31, 1998 – Nigeria win the inaugural African Women Championship when Super Falcons beat Ghana 2-0 in the final match played at Abeokuta.

38. September 27, 2000 – Glory Alozie won the silver medal for Nigeria in women’s 100 hurdles at the Sydney Olympics.

39. September 30, 2000 – Nigeria won the silver medal in the men’s 4×400 relay at the Sydney Olympics. Years later, the quartet was upgraded to gold medalists after the disqualification of the American team.

40. September 30, 2000 – Nigeria won the bronze medal in the women’s 4×400 relay at the Sydney Olympics.


41. January 27, 2001 – When Victor Agali scored in the 67th minute to put scores at 2-0 in an eventual 3-0 defeat of Sudan in Port Harcourt, it was Nigeria’s 100th goal in the qualifying series of the World Cup. Nigeria thus became the first African side to hit a century of World Cup qualifying goals.

42. December 12, 2003 Nigeria’s Enyimba won CAF Champions League. It is the first time a Nigerian side will do so since the continent’s premier club competition began in 1964. Enyimba went ahead to win the Super Cup for the first time for Nigeria.

43. January 31, 2004 – When Super Eagles’ skipper scored from the penalty spot against South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations, it brought score line to 2-0 in an eventual 4-0 triumph. The goal is officially the 1,000th in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations.

44. August 27, 2004 – Nigeria won the bronze medal in the men’s 4 x 400 relay at the Athens Olympics.

45. August 28, 2004 – Nigeria won the bronze medal in the men’s 4×100 relay at the Athens Olympics.


46. December 12, 2004 – Enyimba became the first side to win the Champions’ League back-to-back and the first time a team successfully defend the African title in 36 years.

47. September 9, 2007 – Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets beat Spain, 3-0 (pens) in the final to win the FIFA Under -17 World Cup in Korea. It was a record setting third win.

48. March 8, 2008 – Samuel Peters beat Oleg Maskaev in Cancun, Mexico to become the WBC champion.

49. August 21, 2008 – Nigeria won the bronze medal in the women’s 4×100 relay at the Beijing Olympics.

50. August 21, 2008 – Chika Chukwumerije won a bronze for Nigeria in the men’s heavyweight category of taekwondo at the Beijing Olympics.


51. August 22, 2008 – Blessing Okagbare won a bronze medal for Nigeria in women’s Long jump at the Beijing Olympics.

52. August 23, 2008 – Nigeria win the silver medal in the men’s football event of Beijing Olympics.

53. October 1, 2009 – On the occasion of Nigeria’s 49th Independence Day, Daniel Adejo scored the last of a 5-0 defeat of Tahiti at the Cairo International Stadium to pull Nigeria through to the next round of the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The goal was the 1,800th of the competition.

54. August 1, 2010 – Nigeria’s Falconets emerged the runners-up in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Germany after losing the final match 2-0 to the hosts, Germany. It was the best performance by an African side at the tournament.

55. February 3, 2013– Nigeria’s Super Eagles fielding largely home-grown players, beat Burkina Faso 1-0 to win the Africa Cup of Nations for the third time.


56. November 3, 2013– When Golden Eaglet’s Chidera Ezeh scored the third of the 3-0 defeat of Sweden at the U-17 World Cup in UAE, it turned a landmark goal, the 1,700th since the competition began in 1985.

57. August 30, 2015 – Nigeria’s men basketball team, D’Tigers won the Afrobasket for the first time, beating Angola 74-65. Nigeria’s Chamberlain Oguchi also emerged as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

58. August 20, 2016 – By beating Honduras 3-2 in the third place match of the football event of the Rio 2016 Olympics, Nigeria became the first football team in the world to win gold, silver and bronze medals of the Olympic football event having won gold in 1996 and silver in 2008.

59. October 7, 2017 – When Nigeria beat Zambia 1-0 in Uyo to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Super Eagles extended their unbeaten run in the qualifying series to 34 matches. It is the longest unbeaten streak in Africa, and the second in the world after the 59 achieved by Spain. Nigeria’s feat is even more remarkable considering that it is four matches ahead that of Germany, the 2014 World Cup winners.

60. April 18, 2020 – Former Nigeria badminton player, Obiageli Solaja became the first Nigerian to win the African Women in Badminton Award. The award is conferred by the Badminton Confederation of Africa (BCA).

Obiageli Edoga Solaja becomes first Nigerian African Women in Badminton winner

61. March 12, 2021 – President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick became the third Nigeria ever to be elected into FIFA Council after Oyo Orok Oyo’s success into the then FIFA Executive Committee in 1980 and that of Amos Adamu in 2006.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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