It is the dream of any nation that hasn’t featured at the FIFA World Cup to qualify and have their flag hoisted alongside that of other countries, but having an interesting world cup debut is a bigger dream. That is the story of the Golden Generation of the Nigerian national football team, the Super Eagles of 1994.
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After making a strong statement in Africa by winning the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations for the second time in 14 years, it was time for Clemens Westerhof’s charges to prove their mettle on the global stage.
Pitched alongside world football giant, Argentina, Bulgaria, and Greece, in Group D of the 1994 World Cup in the United States, the Super Eagles knew they had to work extremely hard to make it out of the tough group.
On June 21st, 1994, the Super Eagles filed out against the highly-rated Bulgarian side at the Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas with 44,132 fans present, in what would be the country’s first FIFA World Cup game. The starting eleven of the Nigerian team knew they were making history and all they probably had in mind was to give a good account of themselves and prove to the world that Nigeria is a strong football nation. as they faced a Bulgarian team known as the Lions that paraded the likes of the legendary Hristo Stoichkov, Yordan Letchkov, and were coached by Dimitar Penev.
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When Costa Rican referee, Rodrigo Badilla blew his whistle at the centre of the pitch for hostilities to commence, Nigerians all over the world watched and in their usual manner, prayed for the Peter Rufai captained eleven. The Super Eagles shocked the world in the 21st minute of the encounter when now late Rashidi Yekini ran unto a cross to gift Nigeria the lead and back it up with an iconic celebration which saw him grab the net and say words which no one knows till today.
Yekini’s celebration has been used for a lot of commercials today. While the Bulgarians tried to equalize, Daniel Amokachi ‘’The Bull’’ made it 2-0 in the 43rd minute of the game after dribbling past Borislav Mikhailov in the Bulgarian goal.
The Super Eagles continued their dominance in the second half as Emmanuel Amokachi made it 3-0 in the 55th minute of the match through a flying header to send Finidi George’s cross into the goal and hand Nigerians a perfect world cup debut match.
Nigeria would go on to top Group D. Despite losing their second game narrowly to Maradona’s Argentina, 2-1, Super Eagles defeated Greece 2-0 in their last group game.
Featured Image Source: Goal Ball
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