In a heartbreaking turn of events, the jubilation that followed Nigeria’s triumphant victory over South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semifinal match on Wednesday was overshadowed by the loss of five fans in separate incidents across the country.
In Adamawa State, the excitement of the game turned to sorrow as a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), identified as Samuel from Kaduna State, tragically passed away while watching the intense penalty shootout that determined Nigeria’s fate. Samuel, who had previously expressed his skepticism about watching penalty shootouts, reportedly collapsed just before the final kick that secured Nigeria’s win. Despite frantic efforts to rush him to the hospital, Samuel was pronounced dead upon arrival at the General Hospital in Numan.
Meanwhile, in Kogi State’s capital, Lokoja, another fan, Lukman, met a similarly tragic fate. Lukman, in his late twenties, was celebrating the Super Eagles’ victory with friends when things turned fatal. Riding his motorcycle amid the celebration, Lukman was struck by a vehicle, leading to his untimely demise. His friend who sat in front sustained major injuries. Lukman was laid to rest in the Kabawa area of Lokoja according to Islamic rites.
Adding to the somber atmosphere, the nation mourned the loss of Cairo Ojougboh, a former member of the House of Representatives representing the Ika Federal Constituency of Delta State. Ojougboh’s sudden passing on the same evening as the football match further compounded the sorrow felt by Nigerians nationwide.
Additionally, Mikail Osundiji, who worked with Nestle Plc, tragically collapsed and passed away while watching the match in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State. The exact cause of his collapse and subsequent death remains unspecified. Similarly, Chief Osondu Nwoye, a businessman originally from Anambra State but residing in Abidjan, was also reported dead. However, the cause of his demise was not disclosed. Additionally, Alhaji Ayuba Abdullahi, the Deputy Bursar of Kwara State University in Malete, was among those who lost their lives while watching the match. Again, the specific cause of his death was not provided.
The Super Eagles team honored their memory with a one-minute silence. Their tribute to the fans on X (formerly Twitter) read;
“During 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 Nigeria vs South Africa match unfolded, they were lost in the thrill of the game, unaware of the looming danger.”
Calls to sensitize fans on medical precautions during football matches have been made to the Football Federation of Nigeria.
As Nigeria advances in the AFCON tournament, the nation mourns the loss of these devoted fans and extends heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones.