The Nigerian senior national football team has won the continental championship on three different occasions, but many still feel a unique connection to the side that romped to the title 27 years ago
April 10, 1994, two weeks after the Africa Cup of Nations kicked off in Tunisia, the Super Eagles overcame Zambia’s stubborn resistance to be crowned the new continental kings.
It was Nigeria’s second Afcon trophy, as the West African giants had claimed their maiden honour on home soil fourteen years earlier.
That triumph in Tunis was the Eagles first on foreign grounds, and it arrived at a time when the Clemence Westerhoff-tutored side was by some distance the best team on the continent.
Nigeria had finished second to hosts Algeria at Algiers ’90 and won the bronze medal two years later in Senegal, with the irresistible Rashidi Yekini going home as the tournament’s top scorer.
The Super Eagles thus arrived in Tunisia as one of the title favourites, and they quickly made their intentions known with a 3-0 thrashing of Gabon in their opening match courtesy of a Yekini double and another from Mutiu Adepoju.
Egypt forced Nigeria to a scoreless draw in the other group match as both teams qualified from the three-team group, with the Pharaohs atop on goal difference, having crushed Gabon 4-0 days earlier.
Yekini was back in his element against Zaire (now, DR Congo) in the quarterfinals, netting a second-half brace to power the Super Eagles to a 2-0 win, with passage to the semifinals secured.
Nigeria came up against Ivory Coast in the semifinal but had to come from a goal down twice within the opening 40 minutes to earn a 2-2 draw against the terrifying Elephants before triumphing via penalties after extra time.
Again, surprise finalists, Zambia opened the scoring within three minutes through Elijah Litana inside the Stade El Menzah in Tunis.
But Emmanuel Amuneke, playing his first game at the tournament, responded with the equaliser for Nigeria two minutes later before netting a historic winner shortly after the interval.
The Super Eagles were champions of Africa for a second time.
On the 26th anniversary of that memorable title triumph, Nigerian fans engaged the Twitter account of the Nigeria Football Federation to celebrate a team some still regard as the best Super Eagles side.
Here are a few of their reactions:
The Greatest SuperEagles of all time. Arguably Africa’s best ever collection of talents. However, something tells me Rohr’s SuperEagles are heading in that direction if not better. Amunike was a monster that year.— Ayodele Opomulero (@Ayphilydegreat) April 10, 2021
I remember very well that wevwon this Zambia in the finals via Amuneke goals that very date April 10 1994 on a Sunday!— Wilson C S Okafor (@profdatao) April 10, 2021
I still remember this day like yesterday. I was still in pry school.. Amuneke was like a man on fire on that day, terrorizing the Zambians all through the game..— Onelum (@cyrilemeka) April 10, 2021
Lovely memory winning the AFCON 94. The team picture though was not at AFCON 94. Chidi Nwanu #6 did not make the AFCON 94 team.— Bimboh Adekoya (@Bimboh5) April 10, 2021
I watched the full match on YouTube last week. What a game! #SoarSuperEagles— Chukwuemeka (@ChuxEkere) April 10, 2021
We can always do it again— Ransomestephens (@ransomestephens) April 10, 2021
Greatest Nigerian side till date..— Jones J Z. (@JonesNuhu) April 10, 2021
Yekini was named the best player at the tournament after finishing as the top scorer with five goals in five matches.
The undisputed number nine also made the team of the championship alongside full-back Benedict Iroha, the mercurial Austin Okocha, and workhorse Daniel Amokachi.
Amuneke carted home the 1994 African Player of the Year award.
That Super Eagles team, skippered by Stephen Keshi, also helped Nigeria qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in history.
Keshi returned in 2013 as head coach and inspired Nigeria to a third Afcon triumph in South Africa before his death in 2016.