Nigerians have ignited a flurry of reactions on social media following a remarkable moment during which the Super Eagles remained silent while the new national anthem, ‘Nigeria we hail thee’, was played before their World Cup qualifier against South Africa on Friday.

The three-time African champions, playing at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, observed in solemnity as the anthem played, sparking widespread discussion online.

Prior to kickoff, it is customary for teams to sing their national anthems, but footage showed Nigerian players notably quiet, raising questions about their familiarity with the recently adopted anthem.

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Reacting on platforms like X, Nigerians expressed mixed sentiments, with some attributing the players’ silence to the anthem’s recent adoption and limited time for learning.

@ChrisBassey22 remarked, “How do you expect them to know the lyrics?”

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@iamaleshinloye questioned, “How many of them even know the first one? Sabi the first one.”

@vinjahmedia criticized the change, stating, “It clearly shows you how stupid the whole idea is.”

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Meanwhile, controversy brewed over the decision to switch back to ‘Nigeria we hail thee’ from ‘Arise O compatriots’, a move signed by President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu weeks earlier. This decision, after more than four decades, sparked debates about national identity and continuity.

Despite the anthem’s reception, concerns were raised about its impact on national unity and cultural heritage.

Looking ahead, the Super Eagles are gearing up to face Benin Republic at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium on June 10, where all eyes will be on their performance both on and off the field.

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