The high point of the second edition of the Nigeria Football Federation Award Night was the honour and tribute to the class of 1994 of the Nigeria football team, the Super Eagles.
Almost half of the living members of the squad were on hand to receive the honour , 25 years after the team brail the trail to become Nigeria’s first ever squad at the FIFA World Cup.
In doing so, the 1994 Super Eagles also became the first Anglophone African team at the World Cup. Before the World Cup in June 1994, the team also won the Africa Cup of Nations, the first by any Nigerian squad outside the shores of the country.
The squad also became the first Nigerian side to feature in the ‘sacred’ turf of the old Wembley Stadium in November 1994.
Partners of the NFF and the official brewer of the beer of the Super Eagles, Nigeria Breweries (NB) were thrilled by the honour bestowed on the trail-brailing squad.
According to the Marketing Director of the NB, Emmanuel Oriakhi, the recognition of the 1994 Super Eagles was a masterstroke employed by the NFF.
Oriakhi recalled that the team not only brought honour to the country, it also attained the highest ranking of fifth position in the monthly rating of national teams which FIFA had been doing since 1993.
“Recognising the exploits of that squad is a prerequisite for the advancement of subsequent squads Nigeria has been putting forward,” remarked Oriakhi.
He recalled that no fewer than six members of the squad constituted the record-making Nigerian team of 1996 that became the first team outside Europe to win the Olympic Games’ football event in 68 years.
Before that exploit, all the previous Olympic Games football gold medals had been won by European countries since the 1928 Olympics which was won by Uruguay.
“Significantly, no European team has won since the Nigerian team broke their reign 23 years ago,” remarked the NB Marketing Director who sees this as a further tribute to the heroic performance of the Nigerian team to which his company is a pillar.
He is of the opinion that the recognition of the 1994 squad will be an impetus to the current squad that will be featuring in the largest ever edition of the Africa Cup of Nations who could also put their names in gold. “The squad enmeshed in the middle of the FIFA ranking table will be spurred to rise.