‘Book Excerpt: The Legend of INDIA VS NIGERIA

Many have heard about this match. Some think it’s an urban legend. Some think it’s only a joke. But only few know the truth.

A long time ago, few months after the end of the Nigeria-Biafra war, the Military Governor of Lagos decided to stage an exhibition match at the then glorious National Stadium Lagos. He thought it would be a special way of celebrating Nigeria’s victory in the war, a way of helping Lagosians to forget the sad bloody years that had just passed. He wanted to stage the match between Nigeria & Ghana but was advised against it. His advisers reminded him how Ghana trashed Nigeria 3-Nil at the 1960 Independence Match, that another loss to Ghana might defeat the purpose of the exhibition match. His advisers suggested that they choose a team that would be very easy to beat.

Brig Gen Mobolaji Johnson agreed. Ethiopia was considered. Zimbabwe was considered. India was considered. USA was considered. And India was chosen. He & his advisers believed that India would be a walkover. But had he known what would happen he might have chosen Brazil. Yes, Brazil were the reigning world champions at the time but… Oh, had he known.

India agreed to play the exhibition match with Nigeria. In fact, they were overjoyed. Nigeria was one of the best teams in Africa. And they had never played with an African team before. What more! They were most overjoyed that Nigeria had agreed to their three special conditions. What were these conditions?

Well, on that fateful day, a bright Saturday afternoon on August 15th, 1970, the National Stadium Lagos was filled with excited spectators. That was Condition No. 1, that the match be played on India’s Independence Day. As the players of Nigeria & India came into the pitch, spectators screamed with more excitement as they saw that all the twenty-two players were barefooted. That was Condition No. 2. (Remember that India had withdrawn from the 1950 World Cup because they weren’t allowed to play barefooted.)

Priiii… Referee Mohamed Touati blew his whistle to begin the game. (The Tunisian referee had been suspended by FIFA earlier that year but had accepted to officiate this special match.) Indian forward Amer Al-Amer made the first pass. And before anyone could say “Bosnia-Herzegovina”, one Majed Suleman fired the ball high into the air towards the Nigerian post. The gaint of a Nigerian keeper, Emmanuel Okala, dived to the right while the ball dropped into the left side of the net. Gooooaaal!!! 3-0. That was Condition No. 3, that each goal scored by India would be counted as 3points while each by Nigeria would be 1 as usual. (Nigeria agreed because they believed that India could never score. Or at least couldn’t score more than one goal.) Emmanuel was looking confused. He was very sure he had dived towards the ball. Every other person thought he’d deliberately let the Indians score just to spice up the game. Meanwhile, India’s fan club was going wild with jubilation.

Priii… The Nigerian forwards Sunday Atuma & Thompson Usiyen passed. As Thompson passed to Paul Hamilton, he was surprised when he saw India’s Faisal Al-Dakheel with the ball. Faisal quickly shot the ball into the air towards Nigeria’s post. Goooal! 6-0. Thompson was so confused. He could have sworn it was Paul his teammate he had passed to.

Priii… Sunday Atuma passed into the Nigerian half. Alloysius Atuegbu passed to Haruna Ilerika. Haruna made a long pass into the Indian half to Samuel Okoye. He was shocked when he saw the ball in the legs of Abdullah Al-Shemmari. Haruna wiped his eyes in disbelief. Too late! Abdullah shot the ball into the air. Goal! 9-0. Three goals in barely six minutes? Nigerian spectators were wondering what was happening.

Priii… Goal! 12-0. Yusuf Al-Suwayed. 15-0. Amer Al-Amer. 18-0. Majed Suleman’s second goal. 21-0. Abdulaziz Al-Buloushi. 24-0. Majed’s hat-trick. 27-0. Faisal Al-Dakheel’s second goal. 30-0. Waleed Al-Mubarak. At the twentieth minute, Nigeria’s Paul Hamilton ran with the ball all the way to India’s box-18. But as he raised his leg to shoot, he slipped & fell. India’s defender Mahboub Jumaa easily took the ball as Paul lay on the ground moaning like a baby. That was the nearest Nigeria had gotten to the Indian post so far.

Twenty-five minutes later & eight goals more, the score stood at 54-0. Some spectators angrily left the stadium even before the half-time whistle. Others waited patiently, hoping that Nigeria would revenge in the 2nd half.

“Boys, what the hell is happening out there?!” Coach Jorge Penna was furious. “You’re the damn captain, answer me!!” he was shouting at Emmanuel Okala.
Emmanuel was speechless. He didn’t know what to say.
“Co-co-coach…” Godwin Achebe began “I think I know what’s happening sir”
The coach was glaring at him now.
“Those Indians dey use juju. They’re using ma-magic.”
“Yes! Yes!” his teammates echoed & nodded & murmured amongst themselves.
“Shut up you fools!! Magic my foot!!! There is no magic in football!”



27 thoughts on “‘Book Excerpt: The Legend of INDIA VS NIGERIA” by King kObOkO (@koboko)

  1. Hehehehe..I heard about these match but reading about it here, with the way you wrote it, is hilarious…Well done jare…

  2. I thought dem say na lion dem dey see- when dey want kick the ball and the scores was 100-1? Na wah ooo.. india juju indeed!

    Nice work…and very hilarious

  3. Me sef i fear India juju o…Nice story jare…I love the way you narrated it

  4. I heard about this story but never knew it was true

  5. Interesting…so this was what actually happened?

    Thanks for briefing ME about it.

  6. Hahahahaha,
    This is one of those legends that every true Nigerian has heard of.

  7. Very entertaining… but I still think it’s a rumour. I’ve searched online for this, and there have been no hits; an international match with a result of 18-0 is too remarkable not to be reported. And I doubt that FIFA would agree to the tripling of goals.

  8. hahaha..chai! you no go kill me with laugh!

    Nice work man. I love the way you narrated this.

  9. Nice to read this the first time, though heard it more.
    Knitted good.

  10. I don’t believe your version too but I like the way you told it, with the names and reactions. lovely!

  11. I thought it ended 99-0? I heard our keeper was always seeing a lion whenever the ball came towards him, but he managed to catch one…
    Hehehe… Naija legends…

  12. funny… love ur version… in a different version, at some point all 11 nigerian players stood on the goal line and the indians still managed to score.

  13. fiction is king!

  14. You all know how it goes. We all know.

  15. We all know what happens next…………………………… hehehehehehe nice to read it this way though

  16. Lolllllllllllllll…..so hilarious bt hw true is this?

  17. I had a kick out of this one. I was rolling on the ground with lafter. But Emmanuel Okala and Alloy Atuegbu could not have played football then. They would have been way too young. It would have been Onyanwuna and Thunder Balogun, in the period and time you referred to. Enjoyed every bit of it. Good sense of humour.

  18. Nice retelling of a popular legend. Very lol-y!!!

  19. This is a classic an Urban Legend, and I’m sure at least half of the Nigerian football aficionados must have told and retold it.

    1. Myne, I’ve finally completed this story & published it o! Pls how do I display it here on NaijaStories?

  20. Ah ah! *angry* How come no one is beggin me 2 release d Part 2 this story? Abi una no wan know wetin happen for 2nd Half? Una no wan know how d match end? *winks*

    Tempt me 2 continue by donatin ur NS points now now now. OR ELSE…
    *removin shoes &preparin 2 score lik an Indian*

  21. This is a story worth passing on to generations. LOL! I still thought about it recently. Kudos to the originator(s).

  22. Lol! hahahahahaha, dis story that everybody knows but noone knows the roots of. LWKMD!

  23. Are you kidding? This is my first time of hearing about it. And boy, was it funny!!!!!
    Even if a little exagerrated.

    nice work, funniest story ive read on NS in a long time.

  24. Very hilarious!

  25. The title of this write up is wrong. It doesn’t go with the concept of the content. I think you should have used myth instead of legend. Myth is a story that many people believe but which is not true. There might be a an iota of truth in the story but the fact is the story is still a myth. Myth cannot be scientifically proved. The content of the story cannot be scientifically proved yet it is believed by the society. There are many version of the story which has element of exaggeration and this indicates that myth is unfounded.
    Now the meaning of legend, legend is an old, well known story often about brave people, adventure, or magical event. The plot of legend always revolve around the story of an important figure in the history of a particular society and his/her heroic deed. A good example of a legend is the legend of Moremi. Though there are some exaggeration in the story, the story still maintain historical reality as its source unlike myth which only explain natural mysteries like why monkeys look like human, why the sky is far from the earth etc.
    Having known the meaning of myth and legend, it is obvious that the story above has no element of legend as claimed by the writer in the title.

    Nice one! Kudos for the research.

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