Seven standout moments for Nigerian sports in 2020

2 min

Seven standout moments for Nigerian sports in 2020

Super Eagles lost a 4-0 lead for the first time
For the first time since the national men’s football team played their first international – against Ghana on October 16, 1950, the team had never lost a four-goal lead.
But the Gernot Rohr-coached team created history on November 13, 2020, in Benin City when a Sierra Leonean team battled back from the four-goals deficit to engineer a 4-4 result at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin-City.
Nigeria scored all their goals in the first 30 minutes of the match and the Sierra Leone team led by John Keister scored their last three goals between the 72nd and 86th minutes of the game in an Africa Cup of Nations Cup qualifier.
NBA drafted 8 Nigerians
The first-round picks in the 2020 NBA Draft saw eight Nigerians get lucky in the first and second picks.
Precious Achiuwa was selected 20th overall by the Miami Heat, and the NBA selected Udoka Azubuike 27th overall by the Utah Jazz, marking the first time that two players from Nigeria were selected in the first round of the same NBA Draft.
Achiuwa and Azubuike are among the eight draftees from or with at least one parent from Nigeria, including Isaac Okoro (5th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers), Onyeka Okongwu (6th overall by the Atlanta Hawks), Zeke Nnaji (22nd overall by the Denver Nuggets).
Others are “Desmond Bane (30th overall by the Boston Celtics), Daniel Oturu (33rd overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves) and Jordan Nwora (45th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks).”
Usman and Adesanya became UFC superstars
Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya
Two Nigerians, Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya, in the Ultimate Fighting Championship [UFC] became bonafide superstars in their own right with their pulling power in a COVID-19-affected 2020. Usman, UFC’s Welterweight Champion pulled in 1.3 million pay-per-view numbers in his title defence against Jorge Masvidal on July 12and his compatriot, Israel Adesanya, the UFC’s Middleweight champion pulled in 700,000 pay-per-view numbers in his title defence against Paulo Costa in September.
NCF employed a world-class coachIn what has to be seen as a statement of intent, the Nigeria Cricket Federation appointed Sri Lankan, Asanka Gurusinha, 1996 World Cup winner as a coach and high-performance director in December.
The 54-year-old lefthander had an 11-year career for his country, between 1985 and 1996, and won the World Cup with Sri Lanka in 1996.
The NCF president, Yahaya Adam Ukwenya, said in a press statement: “The appointment of Asanka marks another milestone in this administration’s desire to raise the standard of the game in the country both at the elite and development level.
Anthony Joshua successfully defended title
Nigeria-born British boxer, Anthony Joshua. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Anthony Joshua]Joshua was merciless in his defence of his IBF, WBA and WBO titles as he brutally knocked out Kubrat Pulev in the ninth round after pummeling the Bulgarian to the canvas three times in a total performance in December.

Super Eagles achieved their highest ranking
Despite not winning any of the four matches they played in 2020, the Super Eagles achieved their best FIFA ranking since 2013. Nigeria rose in the world’s top ranks to be listed amongst the top 30 best football countries in the world in May.

Jorgic knocked Aruna out of Men’s World Cup on Day 1
Quadi Aruna [Photo courtesy ITTF]The 32-year-old Quadri Aruna, ranked 20th in the world, fell 4-2; 11-4, 8-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8, 11-4 to the 22-year-old Slovenian, Darko Jorgic, ranked 34th in the world.
The Slovenian caused a major upset in the last match of the first day as he eliminated Aruna from the group stages and reach the round of 16.

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