Since university lecturers do not seem willing to return to their lecture theatres until the Federal Government is ready to hand over the whole National treasury to them, let me assume the role of a History teacher today.
This is a legend (or should I say myth?) that has been spurn in the home of every sport loving Nigerian family. It is the story of the legendary match between Nigeria and India where India thrashed (sounds too mild- hammered, trounced, whipped, and slaughtered) the Green Eagles of Nigeria by 99 goals to 1. Aha! That is the one I am talking about. India 99-1 Nigeria. If you didn’t hear this story, and you are at least in Junior Secondary school, then it means that you either didn’t grow up in the country, or you are an extreme Ajebo- the type whose fathers steal millions of naira meant for the development of the country and hide in Swiss banks.
When it happened, no one can tell. Not even the oldest indigenous coach in Nigeria seems to know the exact date or at least year when it happened. But everyone seems to agree that it happened at the National Stadium in Surulere Lagos (Good old Surulere). Everyone also seems to agree that the Indian national football team at that time were mediocre who refused to wear shoes on the pitch. I am sure GEJ is a distant descendant of their coach. (No be me talk am ooo). Many football scholars also seem to agree that it happened immediately after the Civil War. At a time when Gowon was still doing nothing in Lagos, and Mobolaji Johnson was the Military Governor of Lagos State. And Awolowo… where was he? He must have been around as a minister, Nnamdi Azikwe was definitely still Zik of Africa that time. So the period must have been around 1970. (This is what is called deduction)
Who organised the match, I don’t know, but I don’t think the FIFA of Joseph Blatter would have had anything to do with the organisation of the match because India definitely played bare-footed. Historians would agree with me that it was a friendly match, because one of the conditions of the match was that if we managed to score a single goal, we would be the winners of the match. Okay, so the match kicked off at the National Stadium in Surulere which was packed full with (deceased) spectators. Abeg, if you know anybody wey watch the match live wey never die, carry am go Ministry of information kia-kia. Make dem collect sworn affidavit from him. I am very sure that NEPA must have taken light just before the match started (wicked people), and there must have been fuel scarcity at that time because there is no existing video of the match. Shebe camera dey use electricity?
The match kicked off. The Eagles, with their expectations high, looked forward to an easy home win. This is where the story branched into two parts. Here, we have two different accounts from different schools of thoughts. The first school of thought are of the idea that the eleven barefooted Indian players on the pitch were supported by a Team B of eleven airborne players. These eleven players in the air were suspended by means of the (then) latest technology that even the United States had not yet come close to discovering. Whenever the ball gets to an Indian on the ground, he immediately plays the ball up where it is caught by the Team B players in the air, who take it towards the Nigerian goal where they drop it down for a ground player to easily score. This of course explains why they were able to score 99 goals within 90 minutes.
The second school of thought, developed their theory from the confessions of the Nigerian players and goalkeeper on the pitch. Their theory is that whenever the Nigerians had the ball, it would immediately transform, by means of Indian technology, to the head of a lion, or other wild animals. Of course, which Nigerian in his proper senses would continue to kick such a football at the expense of getting his leg bitten off. The keeper also confessed that whenever an Indian fired a shot at him the ball would transform into the head of a roaring lion. The spectators confirmed this with the report that he always dived in the opposite direction of the shot. To lend credence to this theory, the proponents of this school of thought also claim that the players on many occasions complained to the referee (who many believe to be a Sudanese) about this curious development. The referee, being a citizen of a country where such complex technology was unheard of refused to believe their complaints, and ordered the match to go on.The two schools of thoughts reunite at the point where the game almost ended. By this time, India had already spelt the names of all forefathers of Lord Lugard down to the time of Abraham. Here Historians agree that a courageous Nigerian striker (he should be given a post humous award of Member of The order of The Niger for his bravery) risked the roaring lions’ head and fired the ball into the net. The ball turned into stone just before he did so, but he nevertheless went ahead to kick it and he dropped dead just after the he saw the ball go into the net. Of course, there have been speculations as to the identity of the player who scored this heroic goal. The younger and more ignorant generation believe that this was the handiwork (rather, legiwork) of the Late Nigerian Striker Samuel Okwaraji who was the first Nigerian to die in action on the field. After a careful and detailed examination, I have come to dismiss this theory because it is common knowledge that Samuel Okwaraji died in August 1989 at the same National Stadium Surulere during a World Cup qualifiers game against Angola.
The second and more credible theory as to the identity of the courageous striker is that the shot was fired by none other than Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun who was well known for his shots which was rumoured to have torn the goal posts many a time. His left leg was so powerful, that the British Government paid him a large amount of money to prevent him from using his left leg to fire shots during football matches. He could only use it to run and pass. Remember that one of the preconditions of this match was that if the Nigerian team managed to score a single goal, they would be declared the winners of the match. It was with this in mind that Thunder Balogun broke the terms of his contract with the British Imperial Government (wait oo, imperialism in the 1970’s?) and used his thunderlicious left leg to tear a shot into the net with the ball-cum-stone (dirty minds, check the dictionary for the meaning of cum).
Anyway, his bravery paid off and Nigeria won the match due to his lone goal. According to the legend, this match is the fundamental reason why India has been conspicuously absent from international football competitions. FIFA is afraid that they might employ the use of magical technology to manipulate their matches.
This brings us to the end of our lecture.
PS: Prepare for an examination on the 25th of December.