By Nehi Igbinijesu.
For many football lovers 12 August, 1989 was a day to look forward to. It was a day when Nigeria would commence its qualification bid for the 1990 World Cup at the National Stadium, Surulere. According to the Confederation for African Football (CAF), attendance was put at an estimated 100,000 people. And our opponents were the Palanca Negras of Angola. The game which kicked-off at 4 O’Clock had been extremely tight with both teams showing superlative competence in midfield and defense. It wasn’t until the 44th minute that Super Eagles’ skipper, Stephen Keshi found the back of the net via a massive build up from our very own dreadlocked midfield maestro, Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji.
The Angolan National team stole the show in the second half in desperate search for an equalizer to no avail. Then, in a flash, ten minutes from the end of the game, Samuel collapsed on the pitch to the utter dismay and shock of the crowd. He was pronounced dead shortly after.
An autopsy conducted showed that he had died of an enlarged heart.