The 1980s

Nigeria kicked off the eighties by at last winning the African Nations Cup. The 1980 tournament was held in Nigeria for the first time and was the second biggest sports event hosted by the country.

The Green Eagles had to endure many questions in the run-up to the tournament about who would score goals for the team, but in the final against Algeria they clicked into top gear with a Segun Odegbami 3-0 victory.

Unfortunately it was not this team that went to the 1980 Olympics. Retirements and injuries decimated the squad. The team didn’t actually qualify as they hadn’t entered the tournament, but when Ghana withdrew, the Eagles were nominated by FIFA. A creditable draw with Czechoslovakia was sandwiched between defeats to Kuwait and Columbia.

The 1982 African Cup of Nations in Libya saw Nigeria eliminated in the group stages. It was a campaign that started badly and got worse as things progressed. The Eagles were not a good team at this stage as the 1980 team had broken up, and really they had done well to get to the last stages of qualification for 1982 World Cup.

With hindsight perhaps the most exciting change at this time was the introduction of foreign based players like Tunji Banjo and John Chiedozie to the Eagles.

By the time the 1984 African Cup of Nations arrived the Eagles were in the hands of Festus Onigbinde, a homegrown coach after ‘Tiko’ and Otto Gloria the Brazilian who led the 1980 victory.

It was a more cautious and defensive style employed by Onigbinde, but it reaped dividends. Nigeria had a tough group with Algeria, Ghana and Malawi but went all the way to a semi-final with Egypt which they won 8-7 on penalties. The 3-1 defeat in the final to Cameroon was the first of three reverses in finals against Cameroon.

There was still a great deal of inconsistency as the Eagles failed to qualify for the 1986 African Cup of Nations.

The yo-yo performances were continued in 1988 with another run to the final and a second defeat to Cameroon, although this time in more controversial circumstances. The Eagles now were mainly made up of talent that plied its trade in Europe and in a heated second half had a goal disallowed.

 

 

the early years 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000 2010

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