Nigeria vs Angola: 3 matches Super Eagles fans will never forget

Nigeria’s quarter-final clash with Angola will mean a lot of things to a lot of people primarily because of the events that have surrounded some of the previous meetings between the two sides.

The most memorable Nigeria vs Angola clash is undoubtedly that unfortunate evening in 1989, when Nigeria midfielder Samuel Okwaraji, a budding star and in his prime, collapsed on the pitch.

He was pronounced dead when the medics got him to the hospital, and despite Nigeria winning the game, the joy of the day was lost when news filtered in hours after the game that Okwaraji was no more.

Photo by Freedom Chronicle

There have been quite a few matches between the Super Eagles and Angola since that forgetful day.

Here are three games between the two teams that will be etched in the memories of a lot of people, especially Nigerians.

Lagos, August 12, 1989. FIFA World Cup 1990 qualifier

After a 2-2 draw in January, the two teams met at the National Stadium in Lagos as they sought to qualify for the 1990 World Cup to be hosted by Italy.

A lot of Nigerians were optimistic of a win for the Eagles, but little did they know that it was going to be one of the darkest days of Nigerian football.

Nigeria needed a win to keep pace with Cameroon in the group. They did well for the majority of the game and even scored in the 44th minute through Stephen Keshi.

In the 77th minute, Okwaraji, without contact, went down in a heap. The game was stopped, and medics were called in. He was subbed off and taken to the hospital while the game concluded with the solitary goal win for the Eagles.

Shortly after the game, news came in that the then 25-year-old had died.

The whole country was thrown into mourning, and that day was etched in the memories of Nigerians forever. Cameroon eventually qualified for the World Cup ahead of Nigeria.

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Photo by Icon Sport

Benin, June 21, 2003. Africa Cup of Nations qualifier

What was supposed to be a routine win for Nigeria and qualification for the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations as the Angolans came visiting ended up being tighter than imagined.

This time, the two teams met at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City as Nigeria looked to qualify ahead of the Angolans.

The first game in Luanda ended goalless, and the Super Eagles optimistic of victory in the return leg.

A win for the Eagles, irrespective of what happend in the Palancas Negras' last game, would've been enough for passage to Tunisia.

It was Angola that was quickest off the blocks with Paulo Figueirido in the 9th minute. They eventually doubled their lead thanks to Fabrice Akwa in the 55th minute.

Nigeria tried to claw their way back into the game, they got rewarded when Kalu Uche scored just a minute after Angola’s second goal.

Six minutes later, Peter Odemwingie converted from the spot to rescue a point for Nigeria and secure qualification for the Nations Cup.

Super Eagles players
Credit: Icon Sport

Kano, June 2006, FIFA 2006 World Cup qualifier

In a dry and humid Kano, in June 2005, at the Sani Abacha Stadium, the Super Eagles got served a bitter pill when the Palancas Negras came to Nigeria and picked a 1-1 draw in the qualifying rounds of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

For some strange reason, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) under Ibrahim Galadima decided to take the game to Kano, which was not received well by a lot of fans and journalists alike.

The thinking at that time was that the Super Eagles would use the heat and humidity in Kano to their advantage against Angola.

The Super Eagles had lost the first leg in Angola by a lone goal the previous year. They needed a victory to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

It looked good from the onset when Augustine ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha gave Nigeria the lead in the fifth minute of the game as the Super Eagles dominated for long spells.

Unfortunately for Nigeria, a lack of precision in the final third proved decisive in the end as Paolo Figueirido equalised for the away side and put paid to Nigeria’s qualification for the 2006 World Cup held in Germany.

Friday's game will probably be another episode to savour as the two teams seek a semi-final spot at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Nigeria vs Angola: 3 matches Super Eagles fans will never forget
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a seasoned Africa sports journalist, and a former Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 national team. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on the NPFL and African football, Randa is esteemed for his expertise in football content creation. Furthermore, he holds the distinction of being Nigeria's foremost sports kit designer and a trailblazer in the realm of sports graphics in Nigeria.