Nigeria’s national amputee football team gather to pray before the start of a training session in a bare field at the national stadium in Surulere district in Lagos, Nigeria July 6, 2018. Picture taken July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
After two losses at the ongoing Amputee Football World Cup in Mexico, the Nigeria team, nicknamed ‘Special Eagles’ have finally recorded their first victory at the tournament.
The Special Eagles defeated their opponents El Salvador by a lone goal scored by Ezeji Kennedy who is the first Nigerian player to score in an Amputee World Cup.
Although, it was a slim victory, quite historic considering the odds that were against the team in making their debut appearance at the World Cup after missing out on the past three editions due to lack of finance despite qualifying.
The Special Eagles fell to a 6-0 loss against Brazil in their first game but were confident they would bounce back in their next game.
All did not go as expected in the next game against Russia, as first-half goals from Igor and Adam Mesiev, with a second-half goal by Dmitri Udalov ensured that Russia defeated Nigeria 3-0 to seal the Special Eagles elimination from the Amputee World Cup.
With just a victory in their debut tournament, the Nigeria team had some commendations for their performance at the Amputee World Cup.
A Swedish journalist, Stefan Lovgren, while commending the Nigerian team said “this is the stuff of dreams. We won a game at the World Cup.”
“The match was nervy for the crowd and those on the bench. The Nigerians came in strongly into the game, dominated the game especially in the first half. They were faster and stronger than their opponents.”
It was a struggle for the team to appear at the world cup needing major financing to cover travel, camping and logistics costs. It took the good will of Nigerians and contributions from the NFF, Super Eagles players, Mikel Obi and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who all donated about N10 million to ensure the team made it to their debut World Cup.