I am pretty sure most of you must have heard or have being told several fables while growing up, I think these fables differ, according to where you live, you may have been told about Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, Peter Pan and the lost boys etc. Here in Nigeria one of the greatest fable I was ever told was the match between Nigeria and India. Well I remember my Dad (of blessed memory) telling me this story at the age of 7 or thereabouts of the match between Nigeria and India in which Nigeria was beaten 99-1 by the Indians. I can tell you I truly believed every aspect of that fable until I was around 17 years. I did a little research and found out there are various variations about this story, even Ghana claiming to have rights to this story.
Considering that the main dramatis personae died in 1972, one would juxtapose that the framers of this phantom game placed the time of the event to be sometime around the late 1960’s and not beyond 1971. Apart from Teslim Balogun aka “THUNDER” who died in 1972, for whom a stadium in Lagos was named, there’s no other area of agreement amongst the pundits regarding other members of the team; once a while Ogedengbe’s name will surface as the man in goal on the auspicious day for Nigeria. No mention is made at all as regards the names of the Indian players.
Back to the game. The Nigerian team were said to have played with superhuman agility and gusto, only to find out that their efforts were in vain as they approached the Indian goal mouth. They said strikers who got close to scoring would see the keeper turn into a lion, and suddenly lose their balance for fear, abandoning the ball or kicking it far off the post. Other claims include that the goalpost or the ball becomes multiplied that the attacker or scorer becomes confused as to which is the real goalpost or ball. Now, whether it was just the Nigerian players (confronted with this situation) that saw these things or it included the spectators, the framers of this legend do not say.
They say that while Nigerians were finding it difficult to score, Indians were said to be making the goals with scores that you’d find in a Basketball game (before the Harlem Globetrotters change into their super gears for the third and/or fourth quarter). This is because when the Indians take their shot, the keeper (Ogedengbe or Okala as some will have it) will see many balls coming in his direction, then he’ll become confused as to the right one, often choosing the phantom one over the authentic one.
At the end of the day, India was said to have mauled Nigeria by about a hundred goals to nothing. Some patriotic ones say it was 99 to 1, in favour of the Indians, and this one comes with its peculiar story. India was leading by 99-0 and we had a last minute penalty kick. No player was bold enough to step up to take it, so Thunder Balogun did. He was going to use his right foot but as he was about kicking the ball his brother shouted, “Thunder” Balogun, remember you left.” And so he hit the ball with his thunderous left foot and the ball blazed through the goalie, tore the net and flew outside the stadium. The referee ended the match and we won cause India bragged that if we could score a goal then we were winners.The ball was said to have torn the net as it careered to the stands.
By my reckoning that match never took place, it will do better taking its place as one of Nigeria’s urban legends.
Why Did This Story Thrive For So Long?
Most people like to pass off this story as true with the fact that no one has ever seen India in an International Football Match. Since no one actually saw India participate in most international soccer games, this gave a little credence to the story.
Bollywood movies showcasing elements of Indian mastery of “JUJU” may have also played a huge role in perpetuating this legend to almost near believability.
Another reason this lie could thrive for long was the fact that credible information was not readily available at our finger tips. It not like every Chinedu,Mayowa and Sheriff could visit Google in a matter of minutes and find out the truth.
And to be honest I have a tingling feeling that this lie was concocted by an elder of a community because, let’s be honest who questions the words of the elders in Nigeria. Remember, what an adult sees sitting down a child will never see even if he consults Google, Siri or Cortana.
Be that as it may, the contributions Indians have made both positively and negatively to Nigeria in various aspects of its life cannot be overemphasized, but they have never beaten Nigeria at a game of football, but it was nice hearing that story as a kid and I will definitely tell it to my kids.
And the 10 things we learnt this week in the world of sport;
1. The doping scandal rocking the Athletics world is just shocking to say the least, with claims saying that Lord Coe the current president of the IAAF (international association of Athletics federations) received the email from Dave Bedford when he was still Vice President of IAAF outlining the scandal in August 2014. The double Olympic champion and organizer of the London 2012 Olympic Games has always insisted he was unaware of the full extent of corruption in his sport that has allowed stars to cover up their doping claims according to Sportsmail. Meanwhile,Lord Coe led IAAF has upheld Russia ban from the Olympics, but some Russians may take part at the Olympics if they can prove they have been based outside the country for a significant time while Yelena Isinbayeva the legendary pole vaulter will appeal on human rights ground. The sooner the doping scandal is cleaned up, the better for the sport and its athletes.
2. We can expect a defensive minded tactics from Chelsea next season based on what we have seen from Antonio Conte’s Italy, but I think he will need some Italian defenders considering reports in the media linking Chelsea to Leonardo Bonucci for the upcoming task in England. His team are performing above expectations, and their defense has been key, knowing that defense is key in winning tournaments, don’t rule out Italy winning this Euros.
3. The Copa America Centenario is still ongoing and for the umpteenth time Brazil have once again failed to shine at a major tournament, with Dunga losing his job and Tite taking over, hopefully he brings back the “ginga” style back to Brazilian football. Meanwhile it seems all Messi ever needed was a beard to be leader (after Maradona accused him of lacking leadership qualities) and win a major national team trophy as they brushed aside Venezuela 4-1 to move into the semifinal where they face USA and Columbia face Chile who destroyed Mexico 7-0 in the other semifinal. We could see a repeat of the last Copa America final between Chile and Argentina. Maybe Cristiano Ronaldo needs to start growing a beard fast if he wants to win anything with his country.
4. The way Dimitri Payet is blowing this Euros away with his brilliant football and shouldering the expectations of France in addition to stealing the spotlight from Paul Pogba, knowing the way Real Madrid snap up star players after major tournaments, West ham have a huge task of keeping their star man this transfer window.
5. There has been no dull moment at this year’s Euros. The expansion of the Euros to 24 teams has in no way lowered the level of football as every new country have certainly all made contributions considering Hungary, Iceland, and Wales. Age is just a number, considering Gabor Kiraly, the 40-year old goalkeeper who kept a clean sheet for Hungary. The Spanish Armada are here to defend their title considering the way they are taking out their opponents with reckless abandon with Iniesta pulling the strings who is my player of the tournament so far with a recognized centre forward Alvaro Morata banging in the goals.
6. The way Gareth Bale has been scoring those freekicks for Wales makes one wonder why he is still not taking more of the freekicks at Real Madrid compared to Cristiano Ronaldo who struggles to even take the ball over the wall. He is certainly carrying Wales on his back which begs the question why Sweden and Portugal are not maximizing the talents of Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo respectively.
7. We have Game 7 people!!! Who would thought we would get to this stage considering Golden State Warriors form during the Regular season. The Cleveland Cavaliers have had Lebron James to thank, who scored 40 or more points in back to back games. He is dropping not-so subtle reminders that he might be the best basketball player in the world eventhough Steph Curry is the two-time NBA MVP. If the Cavaliers beat the Warriors they would be the first team to come back from a 3-1deficit in the NBA Finals and it seems they may be able to do it considering the pressure on the Warriors which has seen Steph Curry crack under pressure by throwing his mouth guard at a fan, even as he immediately apologized. He was ejected from the court for the first time in his career. Game 7 goes down on Sunday night (1:00am Nigerian time) with the Warriors having home advantage.
8. We are seeing an unprecedented level of fan violence in France, with focus on the Russia hooligans who are said to have attacked the English fans. The dark days of English hooliganism has gone and the Russians clearly want to show they are the new kings of hooliganism. We also saw the Croatians fans who threw flares into the pitch sabotaging the efforts of their team who were leading at that point and ended up drawing the game. The French Police would surely have to up their tactics in suppressing this violence that is threatening to take away the spotlight from the football on the pitch.
9. It seems to me that players like Cristiano Ronaldo have prioritized club football over their country. Nobody wants to die for his other country anymore. I guess the astronomical wages being paid by the top clubs are making players to reserve their best for their club sides. The penalty Ronaldo missed against Austria was just some of the several reasons to suggest the carefree attitudes of some players. It all goes to show the power clubs have nowadays. Brazil was not allowed to use Neymar for the ongoing Copa America because Barcelona decided he could only participate in one tournament between the Copa America and the Olympics games and Brazil chose the latter.
10. The win by Belgium over the Irish just goes to show what happens when coaches do the simple things by playing players in their natural position instead of over complicating things as regards to Kevin De Bruyne who played behind the striker than on the right wing where he was ineffective in that game. He had a hand in all three goals Belgium scored.
And while we at it, Jamie Vardy’s goal against Wales reminded me of the goal I scored against class of 17 in last year’s LSS games final, now talk of them feeling like the trophy was snatched from them is just laughable to say the least. That’s all for this week and remember always do some sport.