Vanguard (Lagos)

3 January 2013

Nigeria: How Eagles Claimed Catalonia Cup

For the thousands of people  who crowded Cornellà-El Prat stadium in the Catalonia, the friendly international between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and Catalonia Selected was much more than just a football game, it was a further expression of the peoples’ desire for self-determination.

Thousands of pro-independence flags and banners shown by Catalan supporters asking that Catalonia becomes "Europe's next state" were on display. The President of the Catalan Government, Mr. Artur Mas, and the leader of the first opposition party, Mr. Oriol Junqueras, attended the match in the state box, supporting the Catalan team.

The match eventually ended in a draw (1-1). The first goal arrived very early. Sergio González (the most capped Catalonia player opened the score with a penalty kick in the 2nd minute of the game, and the Catalan team had many scoring chances before the half time. But in the 10th minute of the resumption, Dike Bright finished a brilliant play initiated by Ogenyi Onazi on the break and scored the equalizer.

After the game the glittering trophy for the commemorative encounter was handed over to the Nigerian captain, Chigozie Agbim, amidst a carnival like atmosphere. "Nigeria won the trophy because they were the away team and the goal they scored here counts double", explained Hugo Alvares one of the organizers of the encounter.

It has been more than just a football match, and it has proved that a huge number of Catalan people wish that Catalan teams can play in official and international major competitions, an achievement that will just be possible with Catalonia's independence. This is the reason why pro-independence flags have been all around the stadium. As it happened in many other sports events in the last few months, on 17 minutes and 14 seconds time the supporters made more noise, remembering 1714, the year when Catalan people lost its national freedom.

One of the most emotive moments has been the unfolding of a huge banner with the sentence "Catalonia, Europe's next state", a clear message to international media that expresses the will of Catalan people.

In the pre-game events, there were also some musical and popular culture actuations, and during the match some music groups created the perfect atmosphere. Since on September 11th more than 1.5 million people went out to the streets of Barcelona to claim Catalonia's independence, there have been many acts to ask for Catalan freedom. On October 7th, the Camp Nou was full of pro-independence flags in the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid. The same situation was lived in other stadiums and events, as a popular concert in Palau de la Música, on December 26th.

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