THROWBACK THURSDAY: All you need to know about Nigeria’s 99-1 defeat to India- The best story almost NEVER told

This is a myth or should I say a legendary game that has been spun in the home of every football loving Nigerian family in the 90s. It was one of the best stories that was almost never told.

The insane match between Nigeria and India that had the Blue Tigers thrash Nigeria’s Green Eagles by 99 goals to 1. Yeah! That’s the one I am talking about.
India 99-1 Nigeria: If you didn’t hear this mythical football story, and you are at least over 25 years of age, then it means that you either didn’t grow up in Nigeria, or you are an extreme introvert or the type that is restricted indoors for 24 hours and didn’t mix with football crazy people in the streets.
Although, there are many versions of the story, every fabricator seems to agree on a couple of facts about this fictional football match. Each storyteller actually agrees that:

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1. This match ended with India scoring 99 goals and Nigeria scoring just one goal.

2. Nigerians were unable to kick the ball because the football kept turning to a lion (or something scary) to prevent them from playing the soccer ball.

3. The Indians later agreed that if Nigeria could score a goal, they would concede defeat

4. Thunder Balogun scored the winning goal and lost his life in the process.

5. FIFA banned India from soccer because they used black magic in that very game against Nigeria.

6. When it happened, no one can tell. Not even the oldest indigenous coach in Nigeria seems to know the exact date or at least a year when it happened. But everyone seems to agree that it happened at the National Stadium in Surulere Lagos (Good old Surulere).

7. Everyone also seems to agree that the Indian national football team at that time were mediocre who refused to wear shoes on the pitch.

8. Many football scholars also seem to agree that it happened immediately after the Civil War.

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Who organised the match, nobody knows untill today, but I don’t think FIFA under the late João Havelange would have had anything to do with the organisation of the match because India definitely played bare-footed according to the stories we heard. 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.

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With that agreed, so the match kicked off at the National Stadium in Surulere which was packed full with (deceased) spectators who could have given us the detailed story if they were alive. For the match itself. The Green Eagles, with their expectations high, looked forward to an easy home win. The fabricators 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 Voodoo, to the head of a lion, or other wild animals.

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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 belief to this theory, the storytellers also claim that the players on many occasions complained to the referee (who many rumoured to be a Sudanese) about this curious development.

Related imageThe referee, being a citizen of a country where such complex means was unheard of refused to believe their complaints and ordered the match to go on. By this time, India had already spelled the names of all forefathers of all the Nigerian players on the field and reached an agreement with the Green Eagles if they can score just one goal then they will be considered as the winner of the game.

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At this point, historians agree that a courageous Nigerian striker risked the roaring lions’ head and fired the ball into the net. The ball turned into stone just before he kicked it but he was too brave to stop and luckily the ball went past the goalkeeper for the only goal for Nigeria. However, the player immediately lost his life.

Related imageAccording 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.
With the help of common sense (not that it was absent back then), quick access to information and the internet, every right thinking Nigerian has come to realise that such a story should be filled under “blatant Lies”.

Why did this story thrive for so long?
Most people like to pass off this story as true with the fact that no one has ever seen India in an International Football Match. Since no one actually saw India participate in most international soccer games, this gave a little credence to the story.
Another reason this lie could thrive for long was the fact that credible information was not readily available at our fingertips. It not like people could visit google in a matter of minutes and tell our ominous exaggerators that they should stop spreading lies.

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However, what people should know is Nigeria has never played India in an international match and the Blue Tigers were never banned because of using black magic to play football. Also, it is not that they were not allowed to qualify for a World Cup rather they have not yet qualified.

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Tell us your best version of this story. Let’s learn more together…..thank you.