Connect with us

Nigerian Football

Muda Lawal: Remembering Nigeria’s First Football Ambassador

Published

on

BY KUNLE SOLAJA

This Thursday July 6, it is 26 years since Muda Lawal, one of the best midfielders that ever graced the football turfs of Africa passed on.

His national team career spanned from January 22, 1975 in a 1-0 defeat of Cameroon in Lagos to August 18, 1985 when Zambia beat Nigeria 1-0 in Lusaka.

Until November 14, 2011 when Joseph Yobo featured in a 2-0 defeat of Zambia in Kaduna, Muda for decades remained the most capped national team player in Nigeria. As at his last game, he had 86 appearances and also the longest on the field as he was only substituted five times in the 86 matches he played for Nigeria.

Since his debut, the first time he was not on the starting line-up was the October 30, 1976 World Cup qualifiers with Sierra Leone when Enugu Rangers’ Christian Madu was chosen ahead of him, making Muda, a second half substitute of the 6-2 defeat of Sierra Leone.

Advertisement

For the records, Sports Village Square recalls that this was the match in which the prolific Segun Odegbami scored the first of his 21 goals for Nigeria.

The other four times Muda was either substituted or came in for other players were in the March 10,1978 Africa Cup of Nations goalless encounter with Zambia in Accra; the 1-0 defeat of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) in a friendly match on July 18, 1981 – a game that was almost disrupted by protesting athletes over the police killing of Dele Udoh; the September 26, 1981 friendly game with Uganda which Nigeria lost by a lone goal and the February 11, 1984 Olympic Games qualifying match with Morocco in Benin City.

For years since 1976, Muda Lawal was a recurring name in the final competitions of the Africa Cup of Nations till that of Egypt 1986 which Nigeria missed following a last minute goal with which Zambia eliminated Nigeria in Lusaka the previous year. It was Muda Lawal’s final international match.

For that accomplishment of playing five consecutive Africa Cup of Nations finals and featuring without ever being substituted in 24 straight games, Muda Lawal was in 2004 posthumously awarded the CAF Order of Merit in Silver.

That added to the two Nigerian national awards that he got in his life time. Along with the other members of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations winning squad, Muda was bestowed with the national award of Member of Order of the Niger (MON).

Advertisement

At the instance of Africa’s First Pillar of Sports, Bashorun MKO Abiola, Muda Lawal on March 14, 1991 became the first Nigerian footballer to be officially designated as Nigeria’s Soccer Ambassador.

The honour went with the national award of Order of the Niger (OON). Sadly, he died barely three months after the award. But he is better remembered for his contributions to football in Nigeria.

With a youthful face always adorned with an appealing smile, Muda was a talented player that switched from striking position to the midfield.

When in 1979 he switched to the striking position in the then IICC, he scored 17 goals in the Nigerian National League. But there was something intriguing about his goals.

Sports Village Square observed that they were usually the last for the teams he played for!

Advertisement

His first Africa Cup of Nations goal was in 1976 against Guinea. But the goal that drew the best applause was the winner against Egypt in a classification duel of the 1976 tournament.

It was a magnificent solo effort and back-breaking exploit against the Egyptians in the battle for the third place position of the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations.

In the 85th minute of the game, score-line stood at 2-2 and there was intense Egyptian pressure on Nigeria for a possible winning goal.

Apparently to douse tension on his defence, Joseph Erico, the Nigerian goalkeeper, sent a long kick to Muda Lawal who was lurking half way near the left line.

Like lightening, the wing half –turned attacker tapped the ball over a challenging Egypt’s Ibrahim Youssef and raced away.

Advertisement

Exhibiting superb ball control, coolness and magnificent footwork, Muda set the on-rushing Egyptian goalkeeper, El-Sharet Sharaf, to the wrong way, and not losing a step, he outwitted the left half-back, Ali Hassan and finally slotted the ball beyond the desperate stretched legs of right back, Sallah Sallah who was then guarding the goal mouth.

What a beautiful goal that gave Nigeria a 3-2 win. It was Muda Lawal’s first continental honour. Later in 1976, he was a member of the African Winners’ Cup successful squad of the IICC Shooting Stars.

Another third-place medal with Nigeria in the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations before a winning medal of 1980 all added to the laurels of Muda Lawal.

 

 

Advertisement

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Nigerian Football

Manu Garba, U17 World Cup winner, returns as Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach

Published

on

The Board of Nigeria Football Federation has appointed former U17 World Cup winner Manu Garba as Head Coach of the Nigeria U17 boys, Golden Eaglets.

Garba had, in the same role, led the Golden Eaglets to win the FIFA U17 World Cup for Nigeria in the United Arab Emirates in 2013 – Nigeria’s fourth triumph at that stage.

Garba’s world-conquering squad in 2013 included Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Isaac Success, Musa Mohammed, Chidiebere Nwakali and goalkeeper Dele Alampasu.

The squad, which finished as runners-up at the African U17 Championship in Morocco after a penalty shootout defeat by Cote d’Ivoire, defeated Mexico 6-1 in their opening game, drew 3-3 with Sweden and hammered Iraq 5-0. In the Round of 16, they ran Iran ragged 4-1, dispatched Uruguay 2-0 in the quarter-finals and trounced Sweden 3-0 in the semi-finals, before they dislodged Mexico by the same margin in the final to lift the trophy.

The former Nigeria international will now immediately resume the role and take charge of the team’s preparations for next month’s WAFU B U17 Championship, taking place in Ghana.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Nigerian Football

Kano Pillars on  the verge of relegation again?

Published

on

BY NURA GARBA SABONSARA

As the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) 2023/2024 season enters the home stretch, Kano Pillars find themselves in a precarious situation, despite being in the 8th on the league table.

They have 41 points in a close-packed league in which no situation below the top eight can be regarded as safe now.

On the surface, the eighth position occupied by Kano Pillars might seem a decent position, but beneath lies a series of crises that is threatening the club’s stability.

Kano Pillars, a team deeply entrenched in the hearts of the people of Kano, holds a unique status in Nigerian football. Yet, recent events have cast doubts on their future in the league.

Advertisement

Despite a promising start to the season where they occupied the third position, the team has encountered a harsh reality check.

For the first time in its history since establishment in 1990, Kano Pillars faced back-to-back home losses in a single season, a stunning defeat against Abia Warriors followed by a recent upset against Shooting Stars of Ibadan on Monday, 8th April, 2024.

These losses, coupled with a humiliating 5-0 defeat by Enyimba, paint a troubling picture.

While some attribute these setbacks to the challenges of Ramadan fasting affecting the players, others argue that this explanation falls short because the team has been playing in this situation for many years.

Why now?. The root of Pillars’ problems lies deeper, starting from the inability to secure key signings and a lack of strong financial backing.

Advertisement

Recruitment primarily from local talent pools received mixed reactions.

While some praised the emphasis on nurturing grassroots talent, others feared the consequences of inexperience, a concern that seems to be materializing now.

Moreover, the team’s financial woes, compounded by fines imposed due to fan misconduct, further exacerbate the situation.

Similarly, some close government allies and individuals are forcing the technical crew to recruit their players irrespective of whether they are competent or not, a development that has angered many fans of the club.

Many players seem motivated solely by personal career advancement rather than team success, raising questions about commitment and morale.

Advertisement

Additionally, scheduling matches during Ramadan, though a long standing practice, has never before yielded such dismal results.

With relegation looming just eight points away, urgent action is imperative.

The government, alongside club officials, must step in decisively to address these issues. Ignoring the plight of Kano Pillars risks tarnishing the state’s football legacy irreparably.

In conclusion, Kano Pillars stand at a critical juncture. Without swift intervention and a concerted effort to rectify underlying problems, the club faces the grim prospect of relegation once again.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Nigerian Football

Shooting Stars rally from behind to clinch a rare victory in Kano

Published

on

Shooting Stars continue to press for the top three slot in the Nigeria Premier League as they clinched a rare 2-1  victory in Kano on Monday evening.

Before now, they have always been battered with basketful of goals in their away duels with Kano Pillars.

In some instances, the score lines were as wide as 6-0. But on Monday, Shooting Stars continued their chase of the frontrunners. It initially looked a continuation of the past when in the opening two minutes, Shooting Stars were already a goal down.

Rabiu Ali shot the hosts ahead and held on till half time. Three minutes into the second half, Taiye Murtala levelled up for Shooting Stars before serial scorer, Christian Pyagbara scored the winner in the fourth minute of the added time.

Continue Reading

Most Viewed