It Started in a Beer Parlour – Everything You Need to Know About the Legendary 99-1, India-Nigeria Fairytale Encounter
Famous football writer, Solace Chukwu, on the day of the draws for the FIFA 2017 U-17 World Cup, which India will be hosting from October 6-28 2017, wrote on Twitter: “This year’s U-17 World Cup would have been probably Nigeria’s best chance of avenging that 99-1 loss to India. Alas, we didn’t qualify….”
I need to write about something unusual, maybe the India –Nigeria game that never happened. “Are you kidding there was never a match like that?” Miftaudeen Raji, Editor-in-Chief of Unilag Sun asked when I told him I will be writing on this unbelievable tale.
If this man doesn’t know that there was never a game like the India 99-1 Nigeria, imagine thousands of people that have been living in the darkness of this tale.
The legendary fable, like some will put it, is what virtually every millennial in Nigeria grew up believing. How Nigerians come about this utterly incredible myth still remains as mysterious as the degree of authenticity with which the story spread. These further contribute to the phenomenon of the story. It was even creatively woven with a particularly gloomy event in the history of Nigerian football; the gruesome death of Sam Okwaraji.
It was circulated that Okwaraji took it all upon himself, in a ludicrous game of football that Nigeria was losing 99-0 to India, when it was declared that if the Green Eagles could manage at least a goal, they would be announced as the winner. On came the dreadlocked maverick. After several of his supposed teammates tried and fail in this quest, he took the ball from the center-circle and started something that would become the rifest ridiculous phenomenon in the history of a country rich in outlandish tales. Okwaraji beat the Indian defence that was previously impregnable. He dazzled beyond their reaches despite their esoteric support from charms and magical amulets. As many as he dribbled, more multiplied. Then Okwaraji felt he had enough, he set the ball for a 48-yard pile-driver. All of a sudden, the ball transubstantiated into a mound. Yet Okwaraji was unfazed by the inexplicable transformation. He threw his stronger right-foot into the ball-cum-large stone and powered in rocket. He had scored the much needed goal for Nigeria but there was to be a sacrifice. Okwaraji slumped and died from the ulcer he suffered from taking that gravity-defying shot. What a tale!
But what side of the divide you want to believe as regards this tale in which there was only one player that played the game, nobody till date knows the venue where the match was played, we haven’t been able to know the person that coached the Nigerian side nor the officials who officiated the game, there are some general consensus still: it was the aftermath of this game that led to Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) to suspend India from football,
There is no body of knowledge that stands alone: I won’t be the first to write on this, and I most certainly won’t be the last. Sit back, sit tight, and enjoy yourself as this body of knowledge takes you on the expedition of knowing every bit of what you should know about that famous match that was never played.
1. Samuel Okwaraji Died in a Game against Angola: Okwaraji, the only player known to have played the legendary 99-1 folktale match was reported to have died in this game as a result of him scoring the only goal for Nigeria against India. Setting the record straight, Okwaraji died in the 77th minute of a World Cup qualification match against Angola at the Lagos National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos State on August 12, 1989.
2. India was Never Banned by FIFA at Any Point in Time: They were reports that FIFA banned the India National team from football in 1950, after the Association of India Football Federation (AIFF) insistence of allowing her players to play bare footed. India qualified for the 1950 World Cup finals by default as a result of the withdrawal all of their scheduled opponents. But failed to honour the competition. The country highest ever achievement since then was a quarter final qualification at the 1982 Asian Games in which India hosted. This has also quashed the notion or belief that India was banned as a result of the legendary 99-1 folklore.
3. The Highest Scoring Margin In an International Game is 31-0: The highest score line that has been recorded in the history of international football match was in April 2001, when the Australian National team defeated the Samoa National team 31-0 in a qualifying match for the 2002 World Cup that was co-hosted by Korea and Japan. This knocked out the point that there was ever a game that ended in a 99-1 score margin
4. Nigeria’s Biggest Loss was Against Togoland: The biggest defeat the Nigeria National Team ever suffered was a 7-0 defeat in the hands of Togoland (now form some parts of Ghana and Togo) on June 1, 1955, In Accra, Gold Coast.
5. Nigeria and India Have Never Faced Each Other in Any Football Game: Nigeria and India have taken different route in sports. The former remains one of the most successful country in African football with 3 African Nations Cup title, 1 male Olympic Gold honour in football, 10 CAF Women’s Championship, 5 U-17 World Cup, amongst many others. The latter are well known for their success in cricket. This is one of the reasons the two sides have not faced each other at any International level
Until we get to see a Nigeria versus India game, whoever might have cooked this story, deserves an award. If Nigeria as a country fail to do that, spotkick.com.ng will take it up as part of discharging her social responsibility function. If you know the whereabouts of the person(s) you can drop it on our comment box down here or reach us on twitter @spot_kick.
Sure, you’ll have your version of the story. Kindly share with us.
Edited by Shehu Idris