The shocking death of late Chief Osondu Nwoye, who slumped and died at Stadium de la Paix in Bouake lays emphasis on the passion of Nigerians for Super Eagles and the potential risks that comes with it.
Nwoye, multi-millionaire businessman is among three Nigerians reported to have died while watching the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final match between Nigeria and South Africa on Wednesday.
The others are: a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr Cairo Ojougboh; Deputy Bursar, Kwara State University, Malete, Ayuba Abdullahi, and a corps member serving in Adamawa State, simply identified as Samuel.
Nwoye was one of such passionate football enthusiasts whose love for the game and the Super Eagles knew no bounds.
On this fateful day the atmosphere in the stadium was charged as the Super Eagles battled with Bafana Bafana of South Africa in a nail-biting and nerve-wrecking AFCON semi-final encounter.
According to an eyewitness report, the High Chief was so elated and shouted on top of his voice when Victor Osimhen scored the second goal, which was later cancelled by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Perhaps, the shock of seeing the goal cancelled and penalty awarded to South Africa was too much to bear for his fragile heart, which failed immediately.
It resulted in the high chief collapsing inside the stadium and all frantic efforts to revive him failed, as he was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
His passion for Super Eagles was evident during his interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Tuesday, the eve of passing on Wednesday.
He was so optimistic that the Super Eagles were unstoppable and would win the match.
“I expect nothing less than victory. I can say that we are 180 minutes away from lifting the cup because I don’t see anybody stopping us. The Eagles are unstoppable. Nobody can stop them,” late Nwoye told NAN.
He expressed confidence in the ability of the team to win a fourth AFCON title, adding that from all indications, they were the team to beat.
“When you read and understand football, you will know that the Eagles are the team to beat now. In the matches they played till now, they have conceded only but one goal.
“Not just the victory, but you can see how confident and organised they are in the defence as well as in all the other departments of the team.
“The goalkeeper (Stanley Nwabali) is one of the best in this tournament. The defence, of course, no doubt, the best in the tournament, conceding only but one goal.
“The midfield, you can see for yourself, how they go about their business. The attack with the likes of Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman, and Moses Simon upfront looks good.
“So, all the departments of the team are very solid, and it is only Super Eagles that can stop themselves,” he said.
He also spoke at length about the rich cultural heritage of the Ivorians, including their food, music, fashion and how hospitable the people are.
He spoke from the privileged position of having lived with his family in Cote d’Ivoire for over 30 years.
Little did he know, however, that watching his darling Super Eagles play on Wednesday was going to ultimately cost his life.
As the world mourns his death, his legacy of service and generosity continues to inspire everyone who knew him, as well as those who never had the opportunity of meeting him.
Experts say that excitement could cause sudden death if there was an underlying health condition.
His death and that of others on match day is a reminder to the rest of us suffering from underlying illnesses like high blood pressure to stay away from watching tension-soaked football matches.
Unfortunately for his loved ones and community, Amanuike in Anambra, while the whole country was rejoicing on Wednesday, they were thrown into mourning.
Some members of the community told NAN that they were still finding it difficult to come to terms with the sad departure of the late business mogul.
Expectedly, the Nigeria Football Federal has extended its condolence to the bereaved family.
Similarly, the President of Nigeria Football Federation, (NFF) Ibrahim Gusau who paid a condolence visit to his expresses shock at his death, adding that it was a big loss to the football community and the nation.
“We are terribly shocked at this unfortunate incident, but we cannot question God.
“I have heard from so many people how large-hearted the late chief was; how he was a pillar to so many Nigerians here in Cote d’Ivoire and how passionate he was about the game of football.
“It is very painful for us as a Federation to have heard of so many deaths accompanying that particular football match. But God knows best.
“Many stakeholders have told me how they were with the late chief in his house wining and dining on the eve of the match’’, he said.
Responding, Dr Ngozi Nwoye, the late chief’s widow thanked the NFF President and his team for the visit, and recollected how her late husband looked forward to the match and the post-match celebrations.
“He was so passionate about football. He would do anything for football; that was why he planned for us to be in Bouake for the match.
“He was so sure we would win that he said I should prepare for us to celebrate the victory after the match,” she said amid sobs.
As we prepare for Sunday’s blockbuster AFCON final between Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, Prof. Ranti Familoni, an expert in Medicine and Cardiology, has advised those with “unstable cardiovascular conditions” to refrain from watching the game.
“Use your drugs and control your emotions. I have a doctor colleague who stays away from football matches because it is difficult for him to control his emotions.
“However, the issue is not only for those who already know that they have heart conditions but for the very many who are not aware.
“Hypertension, for example, is called a silent killer because up to 50 per cent of those who have it are not aware that they have it’’, said Familoni of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State,
According to him, there is also a condition called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
He said individual might be unaware it but it manifests after a stressful condition, including disappointment and bereavement, and might lead to sudden death.
NAN reports that Nigeria take on hosts Coted’Ivoire in the final of the AFCON 2023 tournament at the Stade Olympique Alassane-Ouattara d’Ebimpé in Abidjan on Sunday.
The game will kick-off at 8.00 p.m. GMT and 9.p.m West Africa Time (WAT) to which Nigeria belongs.
May the departed souls rest in peace.