Super Eagles of Nigeria have paid tributes to the persons who lost their lives during Wednesday’s dramatic Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final penalty shootout win over South Africa.
At the last count, five supporters lost their lives as Nigeria secured a hard-fought victory and booked their place in the final.
After a 1-1 stalemate in regulation and extra time, the Super Eagles emerged victorious 4-2 on penalties.
Among those who died in the heat of the game in their various locations in Nigeria were the former member of the House of Representatives, Cairo Ojougboh; High Chief Osondu Nwoye, an Igbo businessman based in Ivory Coast; deputy bursar of Kwara State University (KWASU) in Malete, Kwara, Ayuba Abdullahi and a 43-year-old Ogun resident Mikail Osundiji.
Led by captain Ahmed Musa, the Super Eagles observed a minute silence in honour of the deceased.
Musa said Nigeria will win the AFCON trophy as a homage to the people who lost their lives.
He said: “We lost good Nigerians because of the game yesterday. We will make a minute silence, and Chidozie Awazie will lead us in prayer to wish their families well because they need our support right now. And, God willing, on Sunday, we are going to lift that trophy for them.”
A video of the moment when the team honoured the dead was posted on Instagram Friday morning.
Earlier, the Super Eagles, while mourning the fans via its X handle wrote, “During our semi-final match, we tragically lost few supporters.
“In a cruel twist of fate, their fervent passion for the beautiful game unwittingly led them to their final moments as the Nigeria vs South Africa match unfolded, they were lost in the thrill of the game, unaware of the looming danger.”
Despite the sombre mood, the Super Eagles now turn their focus to the final against the host nation, Cote d’Ivoire, on Sunday.
They will aim to honour the memory of their fallen fans by lifting the AFCON trophy at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Ebimpe.