In a heart-wrenching turn of events, Wednesday’s electrifying semi-final match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Bafana Bafana of South Africa in the ongoing 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) resulted in the untimely demise of four passionate fans. The euphoria of victory, as the Super Eagles clinched a 4-2 win in the penalty shootout, was overshadowed by the somber news of these tragic losses.
Among the deceased are notable figures from various walks of life, each with a deep love for the beautiful game that turned into an unforeseen farewell.
Cairo Ojougboh, a prominent figure in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Executive Director of Projects at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), collapsed in his Abuja residence while watching the match. Witnesses recounted how he succumbed to a heart attack triggered by the tension of a crucial penalty kick awarded against Nigeria.
Ayuba Abdullahi, Deputy Bursar of Kwara State University, met his fate at a viewing center in the Sango area. Complaints of dizziness escalated into tragedy as he collapsed upon returning home, never to regain consciousness despite efforts to save him.
The match claimed another victim in Samuel, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member from Kaduna State. His excitement turned to tragedy as he fainted just before Nigeria’s final triumphant kick, leaving those around him in shock and grief.
Osondu Nwoye, a renowned businessman based in Ivory Coast, met his end at the stadium itself, a testament to his undying devotion to the game. Witnesses described his jubilation turning to despair as a goal by Nigerian striker Victor Osihmen was disallowed, leading to a fatal heart attack.
Lastly, Mikail Osundiji, a sales representative, faced a similar fate in Abeokuta. The cancellation of Nigeria’s goal and subsequent penalty decision proved too much for his heart to bear, leaving his family and fellow spectators in mourning.
As the nation celebrates the Super Eagles’ victory, these heartbreaking losses serve as a stark reminder of the unpredictable twists of fate and the fragility of life, even in moments of joy and camaraderie. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the departed during this difficult time.