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Gara Gombe Pays Tribute T0 Emeka Omeruah

By Coach Uni Dan Kakwi

The aspiring NFA presidential contestant Ahmed Gara Gombe scrolls back to remember the highly enigmatic Emeka Omeruah.

Surprisingly, the Federal Government redeemed pledges made to the 1985 set of Golden Eaglets, the first African team to win a FIFA organized tournament. But one man was conspicuously absent at the event. Not even a mention was made of the Sports Minister at the time, Air Cdr. Sampson Emeka Omeruah (Rtd), a man under whose watch the nation won many laurels in sports. December 4th marks the day of the death of a man widely dubbed the father of the Golden era of Nigerian football. He died in London December 4, 2006.

The history of Nigerian football cannot be complete without his mention as he is linked with most of the memorable moments of our football.

Omeruah was elected chairman of Nigeria Football Association in 1993 and immediately his Midas touch began to manifest for instance, how many still remember that he originated the nickname Dream Team associated with the victorious football team at Atlanta 96?

It was after watching the star-studded U-23 team grind out a 1-1 draw in Cairo against Egypt to qualify for the final stage of the Olympics qualifiers that Omeruah gushed “yes, this is a Dream Team”. That sobriquet stuck. As the NFA Chairman at the time, he had midwives the birth of that team.

The bulk of that Atlanta 96 squad could be traced to 1993 when Omeruah was elected NFA Chairman. With him in charge, Nigeria won a second U17 championship at Japan 93, the same year the Super Eagles qualified for a debut World Cup, the USA1994. Before jetting off to USA for the World Cup, Nigeria won the AFCON for the first time on away soil at Tunisia 94.

The Super Eagles would have a memorable World Cup debut, losing to Italy in the second round at extra time. The team’s performance was rated the second most entertaining team at the Mundial. At that point, Nigeria was number five on FIFA ranking; it’s highest ever ranking till date.

His tenure ushered the first Nigerian to win African Footballer of the Year award when Rashidi Yekini bagged the honor in 1993. Emmanuel Amuneke followed suit in 1994. Thus came an era Nigerian players dominated the continent. Nwankwo Kanu was Africa’s best in 1996; Victor Ikpeba in 1997 before Kanu notched a second in 1999.

As we fervently await the return of the glory days of our football, kudos should be given to the man, who birthed the lost golden era.

A three time Sports Minister, the PHD graduate of UNILAG presided over Nigeria’s successful hosting of the FIFA U20 Championships in 1999.

The outspoken Ahmed Gara Gombe stands tall in remembrance of the unfadable icon

The post Gara Gombe Pays Tribute T0 Emeka Omeruah appeared first on Latest Sports and Football News in Nigeria | Sports247.

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