BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Nigeria’s oldest existing football club, Stationery Stores will set the Teslim Balogun Stadium agog as it plans an international friendly tie with its age-long rivals, Kumasi Ashanti Kotoko of Ghana.
The management of the Nigerian club informed Sports Village Square that the match is planned as part of efforts to bring the once fanatically supported Nigerian club back into national prominence and also, a contribution to Lagos State at 50 celebrations.
Both Stores and Ashanti Kotoko set the continent agog in the late 1960s as their rivalry also bordered on bitterness.
Sports Village Square recalls a major instance when Stores made a debut in 1970 at the then Africa Cup of Champions Clubs which has now changed to CAF Champions League.
Both clubs were drawn together in the second round. Asante had the famous Ghanaian goalkeeper, Robert Mensah in goal at the time.
Stores won the ill-tempered first leg match, 3-2 at the then Liberty Stadium, Ibadan. The second leg match was similarly characterised.
With score line still goalless, trouble started in the second half when Ghana’s skipper Osei Kofi took a header which Stores’ Goalkeeper Peter Fregene snatched before it could prove dangerous.
But the Ugandan referee, Mukasa Misaevi who was sandwiched between the Kotoko captain and Fregene ordered a penalty kick which Stores initially disputed before being allowed to be taken.
The conversion of the kick put scores at 3-3 but Stores staged a walk out and the match was awarded to Asante Kotoko which went on to win the trophy that year.
The match soiled the Nigeria-Ghana sporting relationship to the point that the annual Nigeria-Ghana annual Academicals football tournament was cancelled that year.
Stores, this year proposed a friendly match which Asante Kotoko in a March 22 dated later to the Executive Chairman of the club, accepted.
In the letter addressed to Mr. Adetilewa Adebajo, Asante Kotoko conveyed the complements from His Royal Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II who is the life patron of the popular Ghanaian club.
No date has yet been fixed for the match. But according to Adebajo, the match venue will be the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.
Rose Padmore Yeboah, the Asante Kotoko administrative manager who signed the club’s acceptance letter remarked the club was studying the Ghanaian domestic league calendar which is on-going and will suggest the most suitable time.
Adebajo added that Insight Communications has been appointed to put the event together and has been mandated to secure sponsorship, branding, broadcast and media coverage.
The organisers are also seeking the assistance of Lagos State Sports Commission in securing Teslim Balogun Stadium as the venue and also the necessary support and security for the event. They also plan to invite Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for the event.