Super Eagles may have just technically qualified for Cameroun 2019 AFCON tournament. We will remember that the ticket was picked right inside “the nest” as the FBN Stadium in Johannesburg is famously referred to. This stadium/pitch carries great memories which will be revealed later in this piece.
The Cameroun 2019 AFCON ticket means a lot to football loving Nigerians. The last time Nigerians watched Super Eagles in an AFCON game was in the same venue where this ticket was picked. It was on February 11, 2013 which is some five years nine months ago. Perhaps there is a divine arrangement between Nigerian football, Super Eagles, South Africa and AFCON. Who knows Super Eagles may just win the Cameroun 2019 AFCON…. and we will all remember that it was in Jo’burg that we last won it yet took off the flight for another triumph in Johannesburg.
February 11, 2013 is a date millions of football fans especially of Nigerian stock still remember with nostalgia. It was the day Super Eagles won their third AFCON title. It was in South Africa. It was inside “the nest”…inside the FBN Stadium in Johannesburg. It was in a cold breezy evening. It was against Stallions of Burkina Faso. It was a night of glory, a night of surprises and a night a home-based Eagle stole the show.
He was an unlikely scorer. He was a player of Warri Wolves going into this game….the AFCON final . He was a former player of Enyimba Int’l Football Club. He is a midfielder and a creative one for that matter. He stole the heart of all as he scored the only goal of the encounter. He made tongues wag. Many still want to remember how he tucked in the ball into the net in midst of forest of legs and heads in that goal mouth melee which left the Burkinabes confused.
He showed bravery. He showed the predatory instinct of an eagle. He was almost unnoticed throughout the game but just at a point his anonymity was becoming worrisome, he took his chance as a goal scorer. His goal left the Stallions bemused, dazed and dumb-founded even as South Africans joined other supporters of the Super Eagles to celebrate. By the end of the encounter, a star was born and a hero made. He is Sunday Mba. The hero of Nigeria’s third AFCON triumph.
Sadly, just as football fans were adjusting their seat-belts in readiness to fly with Sunday Mba to Europe to watch him thrill the football world, his star which was just rising suddenly set. He landed in France where he joined second division CA Bastia. He played 43 games and scored five goals. This was in 2014/2015 season. The club declared him surplus to requirement by the end of his only season in France. Sunday Mba joined Yeni Malatyaspor in 2015 and spent two seasons there. He played 54 games scoring 8 goals. Presently he is clubless.
One prays that Super Eagles will replicate the sweet and glorious memories of 2013 in Cameroun by producing another mercurial moment of Sunday Mba.