Ahead of the 2023 AFCON quarter final tie between Nigeria and Angola, in Cote D’ Ivoire, the Chairman of Abia Warriors Football Club of Umuahia Coach John Obuh has charged Nigeria’s representatives, the Super Eagles to beat the Palancas Negras of Angola not just for the nation but to also honour former Nigeria international late Sam Okwaraji who died on the line of duty.
The former U-17 and U-20 national team coach noted that the entire nation is behind the team, and encouraged them to make the late national icon happy as he continues to rest in peace.
“I want to first congratulate the Super Eagles for beating arguably our arch rivals Cameroon to reach this stage of the competition. The victory meant a lot to Nigerians, that’s why there was jubilation across the country when the centre referee blew the final whistle.
“That said, we have another important match to play, a game against Angola. It is a must win for the Super Eagles if our dream of lifting the trophy for the fourth time is to be realised.
“The Super Eagles should win this game not just for Nigerians but also to honour Late Sam Okwaraji, who died while playing for the Super Eagles against Angola in a World Cup qualifier. A defeat to Angola will make Sam Okwaraji happy as he continues to rest in peace.
“The entire nation is solidly behind the team. The support is overwhelming. This support I believe will definitely motivate the Super Eagles to go all out and triumph over Angola”, Coach Obuh said.
In 1989, the entire nation was thrown into mourning when Nigeria star midfielder Sam Okwaraji slumped (and never got up) during the World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Angola at the National Stadium Surulere, Lagos. By the time he was conveyed to the hospital, he was pronounced dead by the Doctors. An autopsy later revealed that he had a heart defect.
The late national icon was admired by Nigerians for his selfless service to the nation. He came to prominence at the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations held in Morocco for his scintillating display. Nigeria came second in that tournament after losing to Cameroon in the final game.