Nigeria,Ghana and the genesis of a rivalry
Nigeria played her first ever “A” international game on October the 20th 1951 against Ghana .
In as much as both “protectorates or countries” had been involved in a slew of international games like the hotly contested intercity clashes between Lagos, Accra or Kumasi this was the epic game that started one of Africa’s toughest rivalries.
In addition to regional pride was also the new Jalco Cup donated by Ford Motors of London and the Nigerian Red Devils who were still dressed in scarlet red shirts over white shorts, took to the field without two of her major stars in Teslim Balogun and Etim Henshaw.
Both had snubbed repeated invitations by the young FA led by Chairman A.G. Marshall making Nigeria a huge underdog – at least on paper.
Ghana meanwhile had just finished a successful tour of England which Nigeria had tried to imitate but had fallen flat on her nose.
Despite the bad weather Nigeria never looked back and within 12 mins were up through Peter ‘Baby’ Aneke who punished an overlapping defense totally against the run of play.
Galvanized by the cheers of the circa 10,000 home spectators the Devils pressed on and in the 30th minute were up by two goals after Cyril Asoluka converted an errant ball.
Ghana came out for the second half as if stung by bees in the locker room but could never find her rhythm . To make matters worse the Nigerian gaffer Olisa picked this day to have the game of his life and Nigeria found an amazing form adding three more goals through Nwachukwu, Okoh and Asoluka.
By the time Rev Father Dennis Slattery’s final whistle pierced the evening air Nigeria had spelled Ghana out properly.
The joy in Nigeria though euphoric was to be short lived because Ghana would have her revenge and serve it cold four years later. They in turn mimicked Nigeria’s grammatical feat and spelled her name in a 7-0 demolishing.
Till today it remains Nigeria’s worst defeat ever.