On account of its official commissioning on 8 April 2003, the MKO Abiola National Stadium in Abuja is 19 years old this Friday. Built as the first of its kind in Nigeria, it is all-covered and with individual seats.
It has however have a colouration of certain jinx surrounding it. Only twice had champions emerged for Nigeria at the beautiful arena which stands as the easily the first major edifice in the city of Abuja after the crossing of the city gate from the airport.
he only occasion international champions were crowned at the arena were when the Super Falcons won the gold medal match of the 2003 African games, and Enyimba emerging victorious after penalty shoot-out in the 2004 CAF Chmapions League.
Outside those two instances it has been catalogue of major misses by Nigerian teams. Sports Village Square recalls five instances:
Football final of 2003 All Africa Games
Despite being rated as an overwhelming favourites to pick the gold medal of the football event event of the All Africa Games as it had happened on home soil 30 years earlier in Lagos, the Nigerian team surprisingly crumbled 2-0 against Cameroon at the Abuja stadium on 16 October 2003.
The gold medal has since been elusive to Nigeria which again lost at the final match of 2019 games in Rabat, Morocco.
World Cup dreams evaporate in Abuja, despite massive win
On 8 October 2005, Nigeria beat Zimbabwe 5-1 in their last match for the 2006 World Cup.
But the massive win proved a pyrrhic victory as result elsewhere meant Nigeria had missed the flight to Germany 2006.
Angola beat Rwanda 1-0 away from home to peak the ticket.
Swiss sensation as Golden Eaglets lose U17 World Cup
With elimination of big teams such as Germany and Brazil, the Nigerian Golden Eaglets, then three time world champions were overwhelming favourites to beat unrated Switzerland at the final match of the 2009 U17 World Cup.
Result did not match expectation in the 16 November 2009 match in Abuja. Switzerland won 1-0 to claim their only title till date.
At the time Nigeria lost in Abuja to Switzerland, the thoughts were that host nations of the tournaments were jinxed as no past host nation had won.
But such claims have since been dismissed as Mexico as the hosts of the next edition in 2011 won. So also, Brazil as 2019 hosts also won.
Last minute goal by Guinea denies Nigeria AFCON qualification
On the sixth anniversary of missing the qualification for the Germany 2006 World Cup, another qualification miss was recorded in Abuja by Nigeria on 8 October 2011.
Ignorantly thinking they need a two-goal margin to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations and while leading 2-1 against Guinea, the Super Eagles went for all-outfield player offensive in the closing minute of the added time.
Alas! The Guineans in a counter attack slotted in an equaliser that ended the international goalkeeping career of Dele Aiyenugba. But for the equaliser, Nigeria could have still qualified as one of the lucky second-placed teams.
The equaliser gave an already eliminated Sudan an entrance through the back doors.
Troubled Black Stars get succour in Abuja
When the Black Stars blacked out Nigeria’s qualifying hopes for the 2022 World Cup in Abuja, it came on the sixth anniversary of Nigeria missing out in the qualification for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations .
Egypt had on 29 March 2016 beating Nigeria 1-0 to eliminate the country from the continental tournament.