1980 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) winner and former Nigeria’s Green Eagles star, Segun Odegbami, believed his country and host nation, Cote d’Ivoire will play the final of the 34th edition of the continental soccer showpiece come February 11, 2024 at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara.
“I said long before the finals that we would be champions of Africa. Many people thought I was just sounding off. Now, they are seeing their light. Everyone appears to believe now that the Super Eagles can do it.
“Now that we are in the semi-finals, I am seeing that we are going to be playing the host nation, Cote d’Ivoire in the Final. “We are beating South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire will beat Democratic Republic of Congo. The stage is set for a classic Final match on February 11.” Odegbami said.
Odegbami, fondly call ‘Mathematical’ by admirers, won the Africa Cup of Nations gold and two bronze medals in seven years of energetic and diligent service to Nigeria in international football at senior level. The team was then known as Green Eagles. He was the star of the 12th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, hosted by Nigeria in 1980, scoring two excellent goals in a Final that saw Nigeria spank the Fennecs of Algeria 3-0 at the National Stadium, Lagos.
During that tournament, he scored three goals, just as he did at the 1978 finals in Ghana, where Nigeria picked up bronze medals after Tunisia abandoned the classification match as a result of Baba Otu Mohammed’s equalizer. He also played at the 1976 edition in Ethiopia, where the Green Eagles finished third behind Morocco and Guinea – the only AFCON played on league basis till date.
Prior to the 34th edition in Cote d’Ivoire, Odegbami had told everyone who cared to listen that Nigeria would be champions of Africa after February 11. Very few believed him.
Even as he addressed the Super Eagles at their Pullman Hotel in Abidjan on the eve of their encounter with Guinea Bissau (final match of the group phase), some persons who were there did not quite share in his conviction that the Eagles would be champions. Today, many have been ‘converted’, and the 71-year- old legend says he is happy that things are going according to his expectations.