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Football | Nigeria

Yekini's death chronicles Nigerian year



The passing away of Nigeria's legendary forward, Rashidi Yekini was the major sour point in a year of balanced achievement for the nation on the pitch.

Even Fifa in its catalogue of tribute to footballers, who passed on this year wrote about: "Rasheed Yekini passed away in May as the record scorer for the Nigerian national team, firing 37 goals in 58 appearances. His efforts helped the Super Eagles claim the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and book their first ever ticket to a FIFA World Cup finals that same year."

Supersport.com takes you through the timeline of some of Nigeria's major footballing events in 2012:

January

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) confirmed it has agreed with its Angolan counterpart that the Super Eagles should face the Palancas Negras in a pre-2012 Afcon games, which ended goalless in Abuja.

The Nigeria Premier League (NPL) got underway with the signature game between holders, Dolphins and Sunshine Stars ending 1-0 at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt in favour of the former on January 7.

Two Nigerians, Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo join CSKA Moscow and Chelsea respectively. The latter was sent on loan to Dutch club, ADO Den Haag.

Also, Scottish Premier League outfit, Celtic signed on Nigerian midfielder, Rabiu Ibrahim on a three-and-a-half year contract.

Nigeria's Under17 women, the Flamengoes, beat their Kenyan opponents 2-0 in Nairobi in a Fifa World Cup qualifying.

February

Sunday Mba's double helped the Super Eagles to a 2-0 win over Liberia's Lone Star in Monrovia in an international friendly match.

The Flamengoes finished off their Kenyan counterparts in the return leg with a 3-0 to take the aggregate to 5-0.

On February 29, the Super Eagles played a goalless draw with Rwanda's Amavubi in a 2013 Afcon qualifying in Kigali. Chelsea's Victor Moses made his debut as a substitute.

March

The NFF announces Belgian coach, Tom Saintfiet as its technical director after agreeing to a four-year contract.

April

Former Enyimba and Kano Pillars coach, Kadiri Ikhana, was surprisingly named manager of the Nigerian women's senior national team, the Super Falcons.

NPL clubs, 3SC and Enyimba enter into shirt partnership deals with Dubic Lager Beer, worth a combined fee of about N27 million.

The Super Eagles suffered a first defeat under Stephen Keshi as they succumbed to the Pharaohs of Egypt 2-3 in Dubai, UAE in a tune-up game.

But the Super Falconets finished the month on a high with a thumping 3-0 win over Zimbabwe in a Fifa Under20 Women's World Cup qualifying in Harare.

May

The West African nation was thrown into mourning as they lost their all-time leading scorer in the men's national team, Yekini. The former African Footballer of the Year passed on at the age of 48. He was buried in his hometown, Irra on May 5 - a day after he died.

John Obi Mikel joined the duo of Finidi George and Nwankwo Kanu as Nigerian players to have won the Uefa Champions League after he helped Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in the final of the 2012 edition.

June

Nigeria opened the month with a slim 1-0 win over Namibia in a 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifying in Calabar courtesy of a late goal from Ikechukwu Uche.

Days later, Malawi held Nigeria's Super Eagles to a 2-2 draw in another World Cup qualifying game in Blantyre with Kano Pillars' towering midfielder, Reuben Gabriel getting his first international goal.

The Super Falconets were handed a difficult draw of Brazil, South Korea and Italy for the Fifa Under20 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan.

Keshi's team, the Super Eagles ensured that June ended on a high as they beat Rwanda 2-0 in a 2013 Afcon qualifying return leg with Uche and Ahmed Musa scoring the goals.

But the NFF in a volte-face terminated a four-year agreement with Saintfiet to be its technical director. A statement from the federation read in part: "A contract has not been granted."

July

Nigeria's only remaining club on the continent, Sunshine Stars began their 2012 Caf Champions League group stage on a losing note as titleholders, Esperance hit them 0-2 at home.

The Super Falcons were drawn by Caf to face Cameroon, Ethiopia and Cote d'Ivoire in the group stage of the African Women's Championship (AWC) in Equatorial Guinea.

Nigeria's Flying Eagles played a 1-1 draw against South Africa in the 2013 African Under20 Championship qualifying.

August

Premier League side, Heartland retained the Federation Cup after edging Lobi Stars 2-1 in Lagos.

Celtic secure the service of another Nigerian by signing on Efe Ambrose from Israeli club, Ashdod for three years.

September

Kano Pillars emerged champions of the top flight for the 2011/12 season after Ocean Boys were expelled for flouting the NPL rules.

The Super Eagles played out a 2-2 draw against Liberia's Lone Star in the first leg of the 2013 Afcon qualifying in Monrovia.

Nigeria striker, Obafemi Martins' career got a lifeline after he joined Spanish La Liga club, Levante from Rubin Kazan, where he had an uneventful spell.

Abduljeleel Ajagun's double inspired the Flying Eagles on their way to Algeria 2013 as they beat their South African counterparts, the Amajita 3-1 in Ilorin in the return leg of the African Under20 Championship qualifying.

October

Chelsea forward, Moses, scored his first goals for the Super Eagles, as they ran over Liberia's Lone Star 6-1 in Calabar to qualify for the 2013 Afcon.

Later in the month, the Super Eagles were drawn in Group C of the Afcon alongside defending champions, Zambia, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.

Gabriel of Kano Pillars won the Player of the Year and National Team Player of the Year (NPL) while Dominic Iorfa of Lobi Stars won Coach of the Year (NPL) at the League Bloggers Awards (LBA) in Lagos.

November

The Super Falcons put up a disappointing display at the AWC finishing outside of the top three teams for the first time in the competition's history.

Few days later, Super Falcons' head coach, Ikhana resigned from his role just seven months into a four-year contract in which he earned N3 million (around $19,300) per month.

The Super Eagles, as part of their pre-Afcon game, knocked down Venezuela 3-1 in an exhibition game in Miami. Newcastle United striker, Shola Ameobi and Bright Dike, who is on the roster of MLS club, Portland Timbers, made their debut.

December

The Golden Eaglets qualify for the African Under17 championship in Morocco in style with a 5-0 aggregate win over Mali in a two-legged clash. They have been drawn in Group B alongside Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Nigeria's Under20s were drawn in Group B with Mali, RD Congo and Gabon.

Powerplay in the NPL led to its board chaired by Victor Baribote Rumson getting impeached by the 20 clubs. The decision was ratified by the NFF and a 13-man Interim Management Committee was set up to run the top flight for the 2012/13 season.

The Supersand Eagles for the second year won the Copa Lagos Beach Soccer Worldwide in dramatic fashion after edging six-time European champions, Portugal 8-7.

Keshi named a 32-man Afcon provisional squad leaving out high-profile players such as Martins, Peter Osaze Odemwingie, Taye Taiwo, Kalu Uche, Obinna Nsofor and Yakubu Aiyegbeni among others.

Within a few days, the Afcon provisional squad caused a row as Odemwingie accused the Nigerian national team setup for his omission via social media networking site, Twitter.

Nigeria's Afcon plan was put on the edge with Newcastle and Millwall blocking Ameobi and Danny Shittu from taking part in the African championship.

The year is wrapped up with the Super Eagles' camp being opened in Faro, Portugal ahead of the Afcon in South Africa.

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