The story of Sunday Mba, Nigeria’s unexpected hero at the 2013 Nations Cup

Football has a knack for producing the unlikely, whether in the form of a modest nation’s fairytale rise or a football club achieving greatness against all odds—like Greece at the 2004 Euros and Leicester City’s sensational Premier League win in 2016. 

Or the event whereby a previously unheralded player rises above expectations in the most improbable fashion, leaving their footprints in the game. 

Eder’s story fits right into the latter category. But three years before his startling ascent from anonymity to hero status in his homeland of Portugal, a story of similar plot unfolded in the southern tip of Africa—the story of Nigeria’s Sunday Mba at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.

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Under the stewardship of the now-deceased Stephen Keshi, Nigeria had a straightforward march to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, dispatching Rwanda and Liberia in two qualifying rounds en route. Nigeria was then drawn into a tricky Group C alongside reigning champions Zambia, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia.

On January 9, 2013, Keshi revealed his 23-man tournament roster. Keeping with the pattern, the team, which included Chelsea pair Mikel Obi and Victor Moses, Spartak Moscow striker Emmanuel Emenike, and CSKA Moscow’s Ahmed Musa, was primarily composed of players playing in European leagues. In contrast, those who plied their trade in the Nigerian league continued to receive the short end of the stick; only six of them were selected. Even so, Keshi received criticism from some quarters for his persistence with the domestic players at the expense of other established foreign-based stars.

This was (and continues to be) a time when the nation’s very best footballers competed in various leagues around Europe, and made up the nucleus of the national team. This has been especially so since the turn of the millennium, when the Nigerian league began to decline and lose viewership due to administrative inefficiency, which explains the groans over Keshi’s…


Source link : https://www.footballparadise.com/the-story-of-sunday-mba-nigerias-unexpected-hero-at-the-2013-nations-cup/

Author : Jerry Okugbe

Publish date : 2024-02-08 13:30:00

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