Super Eagles team and technical officials will on Thursday afternoon fly to Dar es Salaam from Abuja for the crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania, slated for September 5.
According a statement released by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) on its official website (thenff.com), the Nigerian team will depart the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja by 3:00pm and with scheduled arrival time at the Julius Nyerere International Airport, Dar es Salaam being 10 pm (8pm Nigerian time) of the same Thursday.
“Nigeria’s delegation will be made up of 23 players, technical officials, a number of Members of NFF Executive Committee and Management, NFF Staff, some representatives of the media, football stakeholders and members of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club”, the statements read.
Both countries have not met at senior level since December 1980, but there have been clashes at junior level, and an African Women Championship qualifying fixture, in recent years.
That December, 35 years ago, the Taifa Stars had good reasons to hope for an upset when they held reigning African champions Green Eagles to a 1-1 draw in Lagos in the first leg of a 1982 FIFA World Cup qualifying fixture. But two first half goals by John Chidozie and Christian Nwokocha in Dar es Salaam two weeks later sent Tanzania packing from the race.
In 2011, Nigeria’s U-23 lost 0-1 to their Tanzanian counterparts in a 2012 Olympics qualifier away, but thrashed the visitors 3-0 in Benin City. The following year, the Flying Eagles also sent Tanzania’s U-20, known as Ngorongoro Heroes, out of the race for the 2013 African Youth Championship. Last year, the Super Falcons eliminated Tanzania’s senior women from the race to the 9th African Women Championship in Namibia.
The first-ever meeting between both countries was on July 6, 1972 – a scoreless draw in a friendly in Dar es Salaam. Four months later, Nigeria’s Eagles edged two quick friendlies 2-1 and 3-2 in Benin City and Lagos respectively, and then achieved another 2-1 win over the Taifa Stars during the 2nd All-Africa Games Nigeria hosted in January 1973.
In February 1976, both countries played out a 0-0 draw in a friendly in Dar es Salaam on the Green Eagles’ way into Ethiopia for the Africa Cup of Nations. And in March 1980, Nigeria won the opening match of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations (for which they eventually emerged champions) 3-1 in Lagos.
By Olisemeka Obeche