Eagles 80' v Eagles 94': AFCON final match report

Nigerian Football News By: Olakunle Brown | 23/03/2017

Naija XI

The greatest match in Africa Nations Cup (AFCON) history between the 1980 Green Eagles and 1994 Super Eagles took place inside the prestigious National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.

The kickoff was slated for 4:00 pm but fans had already filled most parts of the 85,000 capacity stadium before 12noon, singing and chanting to songs of their favourite stars as banter flew around.

All that the fans wanted was bragging rights of which team is the best and inside the dressing room, the players could feel the buzz as they eagerly waited for the coaches to announce the starting line-up.

Match Preview

In the pre-match formalities, the 1980 team were firm favourites due to the efficiency with which they dispatched their rivals, cutting through defenses like hot knife through butter thanks to the dynamism of the ‘Mathematical’ Segun Odemgbemi and steel in the heart of defense provided by the pair of ‘Chairman’ Christian Chukwu and Tunde Bamidele.

The 94’ Eagles had perhaps the greatest striker ever to wear the Green-White-Green colours of Nigeria, Rashidi Yekini, and with the magic of Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha in midfield, they hoped to upstage their more illustrious opponent.

Finally, an hour before kickoff, both managers released the list of their respective starting XI. Coach of the Green Eagles, Otto Gloria, went for the same starting XI that played in the semifinals while Super Eagles Coach, Clemens Westerhof, opted to drop 32-year-old Stephen Keshi for the 26-year-old duo of Uche Okechekwu and Uche Okafor with Daniel Amokachi playing at the base of the midfield triangle.

1980 Green Eagles Squad

The 1980 Eagles had:

Best Ogedegbe, David Adiele, Adokie Amesiemeka, Alloysius Atuegbu, Tunde Bamidele, Christian Chukwu, Okey Isima, Muda Lawal, Segun Odegbami, Godwin Odiye, Felix Owolabi.

Sub: Emmanuel Okala, Moses Effiong, Shefiu Mohammed, Charles Bassey, Henry Nwosu, Kadiri Ikhana, Martin Eyo, Ifeanyi Onyedika.

Coach:  Otto Gloria.

The 1994 Eagles listed:

Peter Rufai, Augustine Eguavoen, Benedict Iroha, Uche Okafor, Uche Okechukwu, Sunday Oliseh, Jay-Jay Okocha, Finidi George, Daniel Amokachi, Emmanuel Amuneke, Rashidi Yekini.

Sub: Victor Ikpeba, Mutiu Adepoju, Efan Ikoku, Nduka Ugbade, Thompson Oliha, Stephen Keshi, Samson Siasia, Fuludu Edema.

Coach: Clemens Westerhof

Excitement gripped the whole stadium as the players finally stepped onto the pitch for the great kickoff. Students with uniforms were seen in the stands waving their hands in great ecstasy while both supporter clubs tried to out-sing each other.

The stadium was covered in green and white as parents helped their out-stretching children to see what’s going on inside the pitch with fans off their seats just to catch some glimpses of their favourite stars.

First Half

After the pre-match formalities, the referee blows the whistle for the kick-off and it was the Super Eagles that opened proceedings.

Amokachi received the ball from Yekini and immediately sent a cross-field pass to Iroha but the left back was quickly closed down by Segun Odegbemi who retrieved the ball and immediately released a swift pass to Muda Lawal who rifled a first-time shot past Peter Rufai in goal to make it 1-0 inside the first minute of the game.

It was a flying start to the game by the 1980 Green Eagles and their fans went ballistic in the stands as they celebrated in pure ecstasy while Westerhof went crazy on the touchline, shouting at the defense to wake up to their responsibilities.

The Green Eagles were in-charge and bossed the opening 15 minutes of the encounter but the Super Eagles grew into the game with some neat touches in midfield between Okocha and Oliseh before releasing Finidi on the right but his sumptuous cross was dealt with expertly by Chukwu.

At the other, end the Green Eagles won a freekick 30yards away from goal when Oliseh fouled Okey Isima.  Adokie Amesiemeka took the resultant free kick but a melee inside the box saw the referee blew his whistle again with no one actually sure what happened, he pointed to the penalty box and issued a yellow card to Augustine Eguavoen for pulling the shirt of David Adiele who had come forward to contest for a header.

Lawal stepped up and finish from 12yards as he sent Rufai the wrong way to make it 2-0 and the song ‘Oshe! Oshe o! Oshe o! Oshe baba!’ echoed around the stadium as fans of the Green Eagles celebrated wildly.

Amokachi was seen at the centre of the pitch getting very furious and shouting at his teammates to keep their head up. They managed to keep things tight and with a minute to half time, Okocha brilliantly wriggled away from Godwin Odiye and Felix Owolabi before releasing Emmanuel Amuneke on the left – the Barcelona star wasted no time to play in Yekini who powered an unstoppable right-foot shot past Best Ogedegbe to make it 2-1.

It was a great way to end the first half, three goals for the fans to cheer about and a fantastic advertisement for African football.

1994 Super Eagles squad

Second Half

The Green Eagles came out flying and tried to replicate how they started the first half but were thwarted by a more focused Super Eagles defense.

With 60minutes played, Westerhof made a double substitution as he brought on Mutiu Adepoju and Samson Siasia for Eguavoen and Finidi while switching to a 3-5-2 formation from 4-3-3.

The changes paid off as they went on the front foot and nearly equalised when Yekini found space between Chukwu and Bamidele but his header agonisingly came off the post after beating Ogedegbe in goal.

Sensing a comeback, coach of the Green Eagles, Otto Gloria, threw on Henry Nwosu for the only foreign-based player that started for the 1980 team, Odiye, to try to dictate play from midfield but the very determined Super Eagles continued to dominate the second half but time was running out on them.

However, with five minutes left on the clock, Oliseh hit a right-foot shot from 25yards and it was parried into the net by Ogedegbe for the equaliser and that sent the Super Eagles fans into wide frenzy.

And with everyone settling for the final whistle and perhaps another 30 minutes of extra-time, Jay Jay dribbled his way past a sea of legs inside the penalty area and as he was about to pull the trigger, Chukwu hacked him from behind and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.

Amokachi, Uche Okechukwu, and Amunike celebrate a goal

Yekini stepped up for the penalty but his kick was remarkably saved but the joy of Green Eagles fans was short-lived as Daniel ‘the Bull’ Amokachi reacted first and rebounded home to make it 3-2 at the death.

It was crazy scenes inside the national stadium, Lagos as fans jump, danced, and celebrated wildly – the coaches and substitute players couldn’t believe what just happened as some of them had their hands on the heads in disbelieve.

Amokachi ran almost the whole length of the pitch in celebration of the goal and a final substitution came from Westerhof as Victor Ikpeba was sent on for Amuneke but he barely touched the ball before the referee blew the final whistle.

And that's the end of the greatest match that was never played.

Feel free to pick your combined XI and post in the comment session below. Thank you!