Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ugandan Burden....

Nigeria's loss to Uganda in an international friendly on Wednesday was a shocker but in many ways it reminds us of the past. Uganda certainly is Nigeria's bogey team. Surprised? Yes, you may be considering that we have always ranked above Uganda. However, we have consistently found it difficult to beat them whether at home or away. Just a reminder, this defeat is our second home loss to Uganda. Back in 1981, Nigeria led by German coach Gottlieb Goller lost to Uganda 0-1 in an international friendly as Nigeria prepared for the final stage of a World Cup qualifier against Algeria.

That loss was even more significant that the Wednesday loss. On that night in Benin, Nigeria had its galaxy of stars called back from the United States and Portugal and looked forward to teaching Uganda a lesson after Nigeria had lost surprisingly to Uganda 1-2 at the semi-final stage of the 1978 Cup of African Nations in Ghana. Instead, even with returnees like Thompson Usiyen, Andrew Atuegbu, and Christian Nwokocha (joining the likes of Stephen Keshi, Sylvanus Okpala, Aloy Atueguu, Muda Laval, Felix Owolabi, Segun Odegbami, and Henry Nwosu), Uganda triumphed. It was a shock then as it was Wednesday night. It was a 2nd minute goal that decided that 1981 game with Sylvanus Okpala missing a penalty kick just before the interval.

The big story of that day was tempers that flared at the end of the game. Thompson Usiyan reportedly attacked Coach Goller as Goller spoke to the media about the inability of professional players controlling the ball. The truth was Usiyan and Andrew Atuegbu (both recalled from the United States) had particularly poor games on the day but so also did the then locally-based Odegbami and Aloysius Atuegbu.

Just a taste of history. Here is the line up on that day.

Best Ogedegbe - Sylvanus Okpala, Stephen Keshi, Tunde Bamidele, Kadiri Ikhana -- Tunji Banjo, Andrew Atuegbu (Felix Owolabi) -- SegĂșn Odegbami (cpt), Aloysius Atuegbu (Muda Lawal), Thompson Usiyan (Henry Nwosu), Christian Nwokocha.

Coach Gottlieb Goller.