The year 2022 is a mixed bag for Nigerian sports. Although the country had some highs, there were many lows.
Tobi Amusan was a shining light for Nigeria on the global stage in the year 2022.
However, the Super Eagles failed to fly at the 2021 AFCON as they were kicked out of the Championship in the second round while Ghana went ahead to deny them the ticket to the World Cup in Qatar.
Some Nigerian-born sportsmen also lost their titles in the year.
Daily Trust has highlighted a few sporting activities that stood out in 2022 below:
Tobi Amusan heroics
In July, Oluwatobi Amusan made history by becoming Nigeria’s first-ever gold winner at the World Athletics Championships.
Her performance came 90 minutes after she set a record time in the semi-finals with 12.12 seconds, which broke the 12.20 record of America’s Kendra Harrison, who finished behind her in second place.
Amusan finished in 12.06 seconds in the final which would have broken her new world record, but her new record was ineligible as the wind speed was over legal limit.
She recovered from a slightly slower start to put on a captivating performance, finishing the race, ahead of silver medalist Britany Anderson of Jamaica.
The Nigerian athlete showed great determination to end Nigeria’s medal drought at the World Championships, having held nothing back in the semis, just a day after setting the African record in the opening heats.
For Amusan, it was an emotional moment on the podium as she sang along to the Nigerian national anthem.
This marked the first time since the year 2000 that the Nigerian national anthem was played at a senior athletic championship event.
As she stood on the podium, she received her $100,000 cheque for her efforts in breaking a world record.
World Athletics on its Twitter handles wrote: “Continuing to put our pledges towards greater gender equality into practice. #WeGrowAthletics by proudly funding the women’s world record programme at #WorldAthleticsChamps.”
For her exploits, President Muhammadu Buhari rewarded her with a National Honour and a cash prize.
Anthony Joshua failed to reclaim titles
British-Nigerian boxer, Anthony Joshua, in August, lost the chance to reclaim his heavyweight titles in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Joshua lost the rematch bout to Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, who won on a split points decision after the pair went 12 rounds.
Usyk won on a split points decision – 113 to 115, 115 to 113 and 116 to 112.
Usyk had earlier knocked out Joshua in London in September 2021.
Kamaru Usman Loses Championship Title
Hours after Nigerian-born British boxer, Joshua lost the opportunity to reclaim his heavyweight titles, Kamaru Usman, another Nigerian, lost the UFC welterweight championship title.
Britain’s Leon Edwards knocked out Usman to win the title at Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Edwards came to life with a come-from-behind, head-kick knockout late in Round 5 of the main event of UFC 278.
After becoming the first person to score a takedown on the nearly perfect champion in Round 1, Edwards struggled in the following rounds to build any kind of momentum.
Usman took over the fight with his superior wrestling and slung heavy boxing combinations and seemed on his way to yet another title defence as he neared Anderson Silva’s record for most all time.
Usman’s pace slowed in Round 5, but it was likely leading towards a unanimous decision win for the champ as Edwards seemed defeated in his corner as his team begged him to come to life in the final round.
Suddenly, Edwards flicked out a right jab and fired up a left head kick that knocked Usman out cold at 4:04 of Round 5.
Usman has however vowed to bounce back.
Super Eagles surrender World Cup ticket to Ghana
The Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup after they were forced to a 1-1 draw by the Black Stars of Ghana in the final leg of the World Cup playoff at the MKO Abiola national stadium in Abuja.
The first leg of the third-round qualifiers in Kumasi had ended in a barren draw so the Black Stars qualified for Qatar 2022 on away goal at the expense of the Super Eagles.
The Black Stars silenced the over 60,000 Nigerian fans at the MKO Abiola when Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey’s long-range effort in the 10th minute surprisingly went past Francis Uzoho’s into the net for the first goal of the fixture.
Stunned by the goal, the Super Eagles mounted sustained pressure on the Black Stars but their passes in the final third continued to let them down.
With defeat staring them in the face, the three-time African champions camped in the half of their opponents and during one of their forays, new boy Ademola Lookman was tripped in the box and the resultant penalty awarded after VAR review was calmly converted in the 22nd minute by William Troost-Ekong for the much-needed equaliser.
A few minutes later, Osimhen thought he had scored the second goal but the centre referee cut the joy of Nigerians short after consulting the VAR to rule out the goal for offside.
At the restart of the second half, the Super Eagles continued their search for the crucial second goal but the Black Stars adopted delay tactics to frustrate them.
With time fast running out, Coach Eguavoen later introduced captain Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo but the duo could not save the Super Eagles from another World Cup mishap.
Israel Adesanya loses UFC title to Brazil’s Pereira
Pereira beats Israel Adesanya
Alex Pereira, a Brazilian mixed martial artist, defeated Nigeria’s Israel Adesanya to become the new UFC Middleweight Champion.
Pereira knocked out Adesanya in the final round to deliver a stunning upset.
The Nigerian-born New Zealander’s kickboxing career involved a few losses, with Brazilian Pereira having outpointed Adesanya in 2016 and knocked out the “Last Stylebender ” in 2017.
The Brazilian was behind going into the fifth session but managed to drop Adesanya and impose his fearsome striking power to stop his old kickboxing rival.
Adesanya was unbeaten at middleweight in mixed martial arts, but Pereira was able to re-live their second kickboxing bout with a come-from-behind win.
The likes of Mike Tyson, Jake Gyllenhaal and Sylvester Stallone were in attendance for Adesanya’s sixth world title defence since dethroning Robert Whittaker in October 2019 and unifying the division.
Nigeria’s dream of winning a fourth continental title ended when the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia defeated the Super Eagles by a lone goal in the second round of the tournament at the Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua.
Nigeria had dominated the early proceedings of the game to keep the Tunis in their own half without any result.
Four minutes into the second half, the Tunis stunned the Super Eagles when Youssef Msakni opened the scoring with a long-distance strike beyond the reach of Okoye Maduka.
Seeking to get back into the game, Augustine Eguavoen made a double substitution taking off Kelechi Iheanacho and Taiwo Awoniyi for Peter Olayinka and Alex Iwobi who was red-carded in the 66th minute for dangerous play.
The Super Eagles who were the favourites to win the tournament poured out in numbers and came close on a few occasions to no avail.