Abakaliki — The absence of Nigerian teams from the football event of the 2012 Olympic Games in London which began on Friday has taken away the shine of the Games from Abakaliki sports fans.
The male U-23 team (Dream Team V) and the Super Falcons are missing out of the event after recording remarkable successes in the previous editions.
The Dream Team V failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the African U-23 Championship in Morocco last year which could have guaranteed them a berth at the Olympics, while the Falcons lost to South Africa during the African qualifiers.
Some fans said on Friday, said that the country's absence from football has made most people to lose interest in the Games.
Desmond Ome, Secretary of Ebonyi Football Association, said that Nigerians were soccer crazy and had expected the country to feature in the event.
"With the Dream Team's exploits at Atlanta '96 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, soccer fans expected Nigeria to be at the London Games to build on those successes.
"2011 was a bad year for Nigerian soccer and the fans have yet to recover from the effect of poor results recorded last year," he said.
Chidi Mbah, a soccer Viewing Center Operator, said that most fans were more interested in watching pre-season friendly matches of European teams than watching the Olympic Games matches.
"Even when Brazil was mauling Cameroun 5-0 in a female soccer event encounter on Wednesday, soccer viewers still preferred to watch pre-season friendlies.
"The situation could have been different if Nigerian teams were participating as the enthusiasm to follow the Games could have been felt among sports followers," he said.
Ifeoma Ugo, a Newspaper Vendor, noted that though Nigeria would still feature in other sports, the absence of football had affected the sales rate of newspapers.
"If the Dream Team was to participate in the Games, we could have been recording huge sales, especially from the sports dailies.
"Soccer fans could have been monitoring the preparation of the teams with much emphasis on the three over-age players' choices as was the case during Beijing 2008.
"We have yet to start selling football match guides as the fans are not interested in Games involving other teams," he said.