The Super Eagles are grappling with sorrow following the tragic deaths of some fans during the thrilling semi-final penalty shootout against South Africa.
Nigeria, after holding Bafana Bafana to a 1-1 draw after regulation and extra time emerged victorious with a 4-2 penalty shootout win.
Despite proceeding to the final with the crucial victory, their celebrations have been short-lived with the worrying news.
The heart-wrenching incident has cast a somber shadow over the team’s hard-fought victory and qualification for the final.
Reports indicate that approximately five Nigerian fans lost their lives during the match, either due to exuberant celebration or the intense tension of the penalty shootout.
The team, led by captain Ahmed Musa, paid tribute to the deceased in a heartfelt moment in the team hotel, a video of which has since gone viral.
Nigerian Sales Representative, Mikail Osundiji died while watching Nigeria and South Africa’s game.
5 Nigerians died while watching the game including Chief Osondu Nwoye, Alhaji Ayuba Abdullahi, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh and Samuel.
The Super Eagles have mourned them.
— Africa Facts Zone (@AfricaFactsZone) February 9, 2024
Among those reported to have passed away is Nigerian businessman Osondu Nwoye, based in Cote d’Ivoire, where the AFCON tournament is being held. Witnesses stated that Nwoye was celebrating wildly when a goal by Victor Osimhen was overturned by VAR, leading to South Africa being awarded a penalty.
Other victims include university staff member Ayuba Abdullahi, former lawmaker Cairo Ojougboh, and recent graduate Samuel. Their unexpected deaths, while celebrating their passion for the national team, have cast a pall over the Super Eagles’ achievement.
In a heartfelt message shared on their official channels, the Super Eagles acknowledged the tragic losses and expressed condolences to their loved ones and all Nigerians.
“During the course of our semi-final match, we tragically lost a 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. May their souls find eternal peace, forever remembered for their love of football and the togetherness it brings. Rest in peace.”
During the course of 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… pic.twitter.com/3ITEUtza3v
— 🇳🇬 Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles) February 8, 2024
World Football governing body, FIFA also showed concern by replying to the message.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have tragically passed away as well as the entire football community in Nigeria. Rest in peace.
— FIFA (@FIFAcom) February 9, 2024
Despite the somber mood, the team now turns its focus to the final against the host nation, Cote d’Ivoire, on Sunday. The Super Eagles aim to honor the memory of their fallen fans by lifting the AFCON trophy at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Ebimpe