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‘We gave them new version’ — NFF blames Benin FA for national anthem mix-up

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has blamed the Benin Republic Football Federation (FBF) for the mix-up during the recitation of the Nigerian national anthem at the World Cup qualification game on Monday.

The organisers played the Nigerian old national anthem at the beginning of the match, which was played at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

President Bola Tinubu signed a bill reintroducing the old national anthem on May 29.

The reintroduced national anthem, initially adopted from 1960 to 1988, used the theme ‘Nigeria, We Hail Thee,’ while the version used from 1978 to early 2024 was titled ‘Arise, O Compatriots.’

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The footage of Super Eagles players singing gleefully to the old anthem went viral on social, eliciting reactions.

Addressing the mishap in a statement, NFF said Dayo Anchor, its head of international competitions, “handed a recording of the new national anthem of Nigeria” to members of the Benin FA on Sunday.

The Nigeria football governing body added that there was protest after the mix-up, and the new anthem was played at the beginning of the second half.

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“We gave them the recording of our new national anthem, only for them to play the wrong one at the beginning of the match,” the statement reads.

“We protested strongly, and insisted that the Super Eagles would not start the second half until the new national anthem of Nigeria was played.”

The Eagles lost the match 2-1 to the Benin Republic. Raphael Onyedika had put Nigeria ahead, but goals from Jodel Dossou and Steve Mounie upended the game.

The team is fifth in the qualification group with three points from four games, above only Zimbabwe, which has a game in hand.

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