Sports give us so many moments. Moments of incredible satisfaction that never leaves our memory.
In 2019, Nigerian sports gave us some highs and as we round up the year, there is a need to highlight them in our Pulse List 2019 series.
For this piece, we look at 10 of the most memorable moments we experienced in Nigerian sports in 2019.
This list is not in any particular order.
1. Nigeria 2 Vs 1 South Africa (AFCON 2019)
Nigeria and South Africa have a complicated relationship. What is just supposed to be a football game isn’t anymore. Fueled by politics, a football game between these countries has gone beyond the four corners of a football field.
With a rivalry that was drawn from political sparring and distrust, Nigeria and South Africa clashed in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with a lot of emotions at stake.
The Super Eagles won the game 2-1 courtesy of goals from Samuel Chukwueze and William Troost-Ekong and as expected, tempers were flared as a result of the game.
2. Nigeria 3 Vs 2 Cameroon (AFCON 2019)
2019 gave is AFCON where Nigeria got to the semifinals and with Super Eagles’ run, it is expected that the tournament would give us more than one memorable moment.
Another moment of note was the round-of-16 win over rivals Cameroon. This is a rivalry that has lasted decades and unlike the one with South Africa, this was just about football.
So when Alex Iwobi’s 66th goal gave us the win in that tie, the Super Eagles put one over Cameroon to the delight of every Nigerian.
3. Nigeria 1 Vs 0 Tunisia (AFCON 2019)
To get over the disappointment of losing 2-1 to Algeria in the semifinal, the Super Eagles of Nigeria beat Tunisia 1-0 in the third-place match to finish third in the tournament.
After missing two AFCON tournaments, a third-place finish was far from a disaster for the Super Eagles.
4. Nigeria 1 Vs 1 Brazil (International friendly)
The likes of Mikel Obi and Odion Ighalo had retired from the national team after AFCON 2019 to leave Gernot Rohr with a new crop of players to kickstart a new era.
An exciting 2-2 draw against Ukraine gave Nigerians a peek of the new era but the real challenge was to come against almighty Brazil in their next game.
1-1 it ended as the Super Eagles impressively battled hard in Singapore.
5. Super Falcons reach the knockout stages of World Cup
Nigerians for two decades have grown accustomed to seeing the Super Falcons dominate Africa while failing to make their mark at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
But at the 2019 World Cup, the Super Falcons for the first time in 20 years progressed from the group stage to the knockout stage.
This was achieved by an impressive 2-0 win over South Korea in their second game and although they lost two games in Group A, they managed to get the slot as one of the best losers to qualify for the round-of-16.
6. Ese Brume wins Bronze at 2019 IAAF World Championship
Seeing a Nigerian win a medal at the IAAF World Championship is not something Nigerians are used to. For six years it didn’t happen before Brume won bronze in Long Jump at the World Championships. It was also Nigeria’s only medal at the championships.
7. D’Tigress win 2019 AfroBasket title
Nigeria’s senior women’s basketball team D’Tigress for the second consecutive time beat Africa to the AfroBasket title to give us one of the most memorable sporting moments of 2019.
Nigeria won all of their games, two in the group stages, one in the semifinals and the final which gave them the title.
8. Enyimba win NPFL title
We can’t talk about the most memorable moments in sports in Nigeria without mentioning the top division, the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
After the regular season, Enyimba finished tops in the championship playoffs to win the title for the eighth time.
9. Rivers Angels win NWPL
Another standout moment in Nigerian sports was Rivers Angels winning the Super 4 tournament in Lagos to become the 2019 Nigeria Women’s Premier League (NWPL) champions.
10. Kano Pillars win Federation Cup
After losing in the finals last year, Kano Pillars finally got their hands on the Federation Cup for the first time since 1953.
Pillars beat Niger Tornadoes on penalties to get their hands on the title.