Remember the day India beat the Green Eagles of Nigeria 99-1

It was unbelievable, implausible and incredible. The Green Eagles of Nigeria had been walloped 99-1 by a little known India team. If you have never heard of this historic match, you must belong to the incumbent “Indomie generation” in Nigeria.Peter Rufai, as well as Emmanuel Okala, were the goalkeepers that day. It was an unforgettable day and a football match that ended India’s football journey as they were banned by FIFA, the world football governing body, for scoring too many goals, allegedly for using voodoo in a friendly soccer match. 

One of the players said each time they needed to kick the ball, they noticed a ball of fire. This drew them back each time and the Indians attacked them much more intensely.  Peter Rufai, who would have saved the day for Nigeria stated that each and every time the ball approached him, he saw a lion instead and that was why Nigeria lost ingloriously that day. 

No one could really tell when the match was played, the exact year nor the exact date but the venue could be predicted: the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos. It is the only stadium in the country then that could stage a match of that magnitude. 

How the Match went

A few months after the Nigerian Civil War, the Military Governor of Lagos, Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson (retd.), decided to stage an exhibition match at the National Stadium to help Lagosians forget the bloody 30 months’ war that just ended. 

Johnson wanted to stage the match against Ghana but he was advised against it. His advisers reminded him how Ghana trashed Nigeria 3-0 at the Independence Day match in 1960, and another loss to Ghana would defeat the purpose of the exhibition match. His advisers suggested that they chose a team that would be very easy to beat and he agreed.

Ethiopia, Zimbabwe were considered. The United States of America was also mentioned and finally, India was suggested. 

Haa! India…. 

Johnson and his advisers believed that India would be a walkover and the country was chosen. When India agreed to play the exhibition match against Nigeria, they were overjoyed and they (the Indians) went ahead to give them three special conditions:

  • The match must be played barefooted i.e. without soccer boots.
  • Each goal scored by India would count as three goals while Nigeria would have one goal and,
  • If Nigeria eventually scored a goal, India would concede defeat.

They considered it fair enough as they resigned themselves to India’s inexperience in football. However, they did not anticipate the strategic dexterity, and of course the mythical voodoo, the Indians would bring to fore.

Behind the White teeth

Peeeen! Algerian referee, Mohammed Touati blew his whistle to begin the game, after the 22 players of both sides had filed into the pitch barefooted.


The History Ville