The Super Eagles of Nigeria have paid heartfelt tributes to fans who tragically lost their lives during the tense Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final match against South Africa on Wednesday.
The dramatic game, which concluded with Nigeria’s victory in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in regular and extra time, was marred by the news that five supporters had died in various parts of Nigeria due to the intense emotions tied to the match.
The deceased include notable individuals such as Cairo Ojougboh, a former member of the House of Representatives; High Chief Osondu Nwoye, a businessman based in Ivory Coast; Ayuba Abdullahi, the deputy bursar of Kwara State University (KWASU); and Mikail Osundiji, a 43-year-old resident of Ogun State.
In a solemn gesture, the Super Eagles team, led by captain Ahmed Musa, observed a minute of silence to honour the memory of the fans whose excitement and passion for football led to their untimely deaths.
Captain Musa expressed the team’s determination to win the AFCON trophy as a tribute to the deceased, underlining the deep connection between the national team and its supporters across the nation.
He said, “We lost good Nigerians because of the game yesterday. We will make a minute silence, and Chidozie Awazie will lead us in prayer to wish their families well because they need our support right now. And, God willing, on Sunday, we are going to lift that trophy for them.”
The Super Eagles earlier, while mourning the fans via its X handle, wrote, “During our semi-final match, we tragically lost few supporters.
“In a cruel twist of fate, their fervent passion for the beautiful game unwittingly led them to their final moments as the Nigeria vs South Africa match unfolded, they were lost in the thrill of the game, unaware of the looming danger.”
Despite the sombre mood, they will aim to honour the memory of their fallen fans by lifting the AFCON trophy at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Ebimpe.
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