Emeka Obasi

Tears drenched Onyeka Paloma Gamero after the Flamingoes ousted the United States from the India 2022 FIFA Under 17 Women’s Championships. She wore the Stars and Stripes.

While Onyeka cried, Nigerians smiled. It was pay back time. In 2012, Chioma Ubobagu wearing American colours was in their Under 20 team that beat Falconets in the semi finals of the FIFA Under 20 Championships in Japan.

The Yankees had laughed best for quite some time. Nneka Ogwumike played for the US basketball quad that stopped D’ Tigress, in the quarter finals of the FIBA World Cup in Tenerife.

Across the American frontier, Canada also did some damage. At the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, Alice Falaiye won gold, displaying the Maple Leaf while Comfort Onyali collapsed in the Long Jump finals.

Onyali could not conclude the event as she was stretchered off.

In Tenerife, Nayo Raincock and Natalie Achonwa played for Canada. They were victorious as the Canadians defeated D’ Tigress 73 – 72 to finish in the seventh position.

Eziyoda Magbegor faced D’Tigress, as an Australian. The Aussies won. Another Nigerian, Monica Okoye, represented Japan.

Onyeka Gamero was as unlucky as Feyisayo Awujo who featured for Canada in their 3-1 loss to the Falconets at the last FIFA Under 20 Women’s Championships, Costa Rica 2020.

Equatorial Guinea were unknown in African soccer until they dethroned Super Falcons to win the Women’s African Cup of Nations in 2008. Two prominent members of that winning squad, Gloria Chinaza Okoro and Blessing Diala moved from Nigeria.

Chinaza played for Rivers Angels Port Harcourt and waited till thy kingdom come for Falcons call up. She was ignored. Then a team from Malabo embarked on a playing tour of Nigeria. The Garden City girls walloped them.

Chinaza scored thrice and that was all she needed to impress officials of the Equatorial Guinean female national team, Nzalang Femenino. They lured her with signs, words and cash.

At the 2006 Women’s African Championships, the Nzalang Femenino arrived as debutants. They were afraid of perennial champions, Super Falcons. Chinaza was not.

She scored against Nigeria, in Oleh, Delta State thus recording Equatorial Gunea’s first goal at WAFCON. Her adopted country lost but she was celebrated in Malabo and beyond.

Nigeria would later lose to the Black Queens of Ghana but moved on to retain the trophy after avenging that loss to the Ghanaians.

Equatorial Guinea hosted WAFCON in 2008. Chinaza and Blessing taught them to be bold and bruise Nigeria. That mission was accomplished. They dumped the defending champions in the semis and eventually won the trophy.

Chinaza hit Falcons again. In a Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualifier, Nigeria needed to win and went ahead. The Nzalang star drew the visitors level. It happened at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, on July 15, 2015.

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The Falcons also made the Nzalang duo sad. Nigeria retained the trophy in 2010. Equatorial Guinea suffered a 4-2 loss. Blessing was also on the losing side when both teams met in Cape Coast, Ghana during the 2018 WAFCON.

In Table Tennis, Ethel Jack tormented Nigeria, featuring for Ghana. She later switched nationality and returned home. The Rivers lady was hot at a time Nigeria boasted of stars like Babatunde Obisanya, Kasali Lasisi, Lateef Sunmola, Lekan Fenuyi and Toun Engore.

Representing other countries did not always make Nigerian athletes victors. Funmilayo Jimoh qualified for the Long Jump finals of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Blessing Okagbare beat her to the bronze medal.

At the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics, Olivia Ekpone ran in the 200 metres for the United States. Nigeria’s Nkeiruka Florence Nwakwe grabbed the gold medal. The American settled for bronze.

In the 400 metres, Victoria Ohurogu of Great Britain was beaten by Bukola Abogunloko in the semi finals. She was sad and shocked, at the same time. Bukola won bronze in the final.

Victora’s elder sister is the world famous Christie Ohurogu who won gold medals in elite competitions, from the Commonwealth to Olympic Games.

Onyinye Nwachukwu paired Saheed Idowu at the 19th African Table Tennis Championships which held in Yaounde, Cameroon in 2010. They represented Congo. Their coach was former Nigerian international, Kasali Lasisi.

The pair lost in the quarter finals, 4-0,b to Halima Hussein and Jide Ogidiolu of Nigeria.

Among those Okagbare dusted on her way to Commonwealth 200 metres gold in Glasgow were Anyika Onuorah of Great Britain and Catherine Eke of Sierra Leone.

Ese Brume’s journey to recent Long Jump glory passed through Abigail Irozuru of Great Britain.

When Chioma Ajunwa won that historic Olympic Long Jump gold at Atlanta ’96, one of the finalists was Tunde Vaszi of Hungary. However, do not be hungry for conclusions. She did not have Nigerian background.

Flamingoes missed Vicky Lopez of Spain. Colombia stopped Nigeria in the semifinals. The Spaniards will tackle them in the grand finale. Vicky Lopez is Nigerian as well.