[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ello football folks, isn’t this the best time to support the Super Eagles of Nigeria? I’m quite sure you already understand what my insinuations are; the current African Champions will be heading to her 5th World Cup in Brazil next year. It was a day that started well and ended brightly for the home side in the city of Calabar, Cross-Rivers state.
I know we are all still basking in the euphoria of the victory and of course we are all still applauding the positives derived from the game against Italy but let’s share with you on halftimeng.com some of the exciting happenings on match day, November 16, 2013 at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
Bright morning weather it was as some of the players and officials came outside to feel the cool breeze at about 11:15AM within the Transcorp Hotel premises. Trust hangers-on, they had a filled day glancing at some of their revered stars.
And as we moved around the city, vendors were already outside the stadium doing their thing, also at every major bus-stops, parks, streets even on some of the commercial cabs and private cars, fans were seen putting on the Nigerian jerseys, hats and holding flags in readiness for the big game at 4.
With a little over an hour to kick-off, the home team and the visiting arrives the airport amidst tight security. By the time they arrived, the stadium was already getting filled up by passionate football fans, even the press stand was already filled up.
And inside the stadium, everyone was waiting for the kick off but their were loud cheers and applause as the victorious Golden Eaglets presence was announced. The teams stepped out of the tunnel for their warm ups with the Eagles coming out first and Fans applaud as names of Eagles players are reeled out on the microphone.
Moments later, the teams file out on the pitch and the fans are ready to fly to Brazil.
After a nervy 15 minutes opening, the first goal came four minutes later.
An Ethiopian had handled the ball in the box and a penalty was awarded to Nigeria. Striker Victor Moses stepped up and struck it in convincingly to send the fans into wide celebrations.
Celebrations across the stadium.
From then on, everyone present had felt that we were going to see rain of goals but it was the “natural rain” that came visiting minutes later.
The 1st half ended with a lone goal separating both sides and during the break, the Golden Eaglets went round the main-bowl on a parade with their “YES! YES!! YES!!!” way of celebrations being done by virtually everyone.
SWAN also presented His Excellency, Governor Liyel Imoke an award for his outstanding contributions and support to the development of the game.
And afterwards, the second half resumes and both sides continue to seek for goals. Chances were being created but weren’t converted.
Tactical decisions were also being made by both coaches with substitutions taking place.
One of the substitutes proved very vital for the home side in securing the 2nd goal of the game as Emenike was brought down just outside the box. Victor Obinna Nsofor stepped up and struck it well over the wall and finds the back of the net.
Meanwhile, just before the second goal was scored on the 81st minute, the heavens opened up and it’s the type that you would want to christen “Showers of Blessings”. Everyone wanted to see more goals so no one was willing to sing the nursery rhyme “Rain, rain go away….” instead, the song going round was “All we are saying, give us one goal” and they didn’t have to wait for so long before the goal came.
And at this juncture, every fan across the globe knew that Nigeria had qualify for the world cup in Brazil next year becoming the first African side to do so. Like y’all know, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria all followed suit.
It went on for a while before the referee signalled the end of the game and Nigeria had defeated Ethiopia 2-0; 4-1 on aggregate to secure a spot at the Mundial next year. Meanwhile, Ogenyi Onazi had been voted as the MVP on the night deservedly.
Celebrations all around the stadium, fans defying the rain ran on to the pitch to probably “have a cool evening bath”. winks!
….and it continued for about 30-40 minutes after the game…..
It was a lovely scene to behold with, you will be laughing, dancing if you had been a part of it. Ooopss, we almost forgot the post-match interviews had started…….
And here we are, the Ethiopian coach is crying foul “I respect Keshi; he has done a good job organising this team but the ref cheated us. We had two penalties denied us. And then he awarded one wrong one to Nigeria. That penalty to Nigeria affected the tide.” Bishaw said. (They left the stadium almost immediately)
His Nigeria counterpart, Stephen Keshi and Stand-In captain, Vincent Enyeama however had a lot to say about the game. (Please visit our twitter page; @halftimeng OR use the #HalftimeNG to view their comments after the game.)
In the end, it has been a blessed 2013 for Nigerian football and we can all hope that it will continue this way for a very long time.
Let’s hear your thoughts on what you feel about this. Please Read, Comment and Share!!!