BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
- Milestone clash for Nigeria and Morocco
- Past encounters almost evenly shared
- Win by Nigeria will even scores with Morocco at 8 wins apiece
- Both teams have won the more prestigious Africa Nations Cup using each other as stepping stone
- The winner becomes the first to have won both AFCON and CHAN
As the curtain falls on the 2018 African Nations Championship, football followers in the continent should expect another dramatic encounter as Nigeria files out to face hosts, Morocco.
For the records, Sunday’s clash in Casablanca will be the 20th encounter of both countries.
P W D L F A
Morocco 19 8 4 7 20 19
Nigeria 19 7 4 8 19 20
- 16 Nov.1963 (OQ.) Nigeria 3-0 Morocco
- 8 Mar. 1964 (OQ.) Morocco 4-1 Nigeria
- 26 Mar.1964 (OQ.) Morocco 2 -1 Nigeria
- 1969 (WCq) Morocco 2 -1Nigeria
- 8 Nov.1969 (WCq) Nigeria 2 -0 Morocco
- 20 Feb. 1972 (F) Nigeria 3-0 Morocco
- 6 Mar.1976 (ACN) Morocco 3-1 Nigeria
- 1976 (ACN) Morocco 2-1 Nigeria
- 3 Apr.1976 (OQ.) Nigeria 3-1 Morocco
- 18 Apr. 1976 (OQ.) Morocco 1-0 Nigeria
- 1980 (ACN) Nigeria 1-0 Morocco
- 1983(ACNq) Nigeria 0 -0 Morocco
- 28 Aug.1983 (ACNq) Morocco 0-0 Nigeria *(3 – 4 penalty shoot-out).
- 11 Feb. 1984 (OQ.) Nigeria 0-0 Morocco
- 6 Feb. 1984 (OQ.) Morocco 0-0 Nigeria *(4 – 3 penalty shoot-out).
- 1996 (King Hassan Cup) Morocco 2-0 Nigeria
- 3 Feb.2000 (ACN) Nigeria 2 -0 Morocco
- 27 Jan.2004 (ACN) Morocco 1-0 Nigeria
- 25 Jan. 2014 (CHAN) Morocco 3-4 Nigeria
BATTLE TO BE RECORD MAKER
This Sunday’s clash is therefore a milestone as well as a final encounter as both sides strive to win their first ever African nations Championship for the first time.
In so doing, the winner of the 2018 CHAN will become the first country to have won the two national teams’ tournament in Africa.
Nigeria have won the elite tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations thrice in 1980, 1994 and 2014. Morocco won once, the 1976 tournament which was the only edition played throughout on league basis.
Incidentally, it was a 2-1 defeat of Nigeria in penultimate match of the tournament that earned Morocco its only title till date having played 1-1 with Guinea in the last match. Guinea on the other hand drew 1-1 with Nigeria and therefore needed an outright win over Morocco to be able to win the 1976 tournament.
STRIVE FOR HONOUR
While it is the ultimate honour for the two finalists to wish to win, Morocco will want to be the first host nation to win the championship which is in its fifth edition.
All past hosts – Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, South Africa and Rwanda – have failed. This is where the pendulum swings in Nigeria’s favour. The second string Super Eagles will not only want the trend of host failures to continue, they will want to also in their first title and complete the tournament unbeaten.
MOROCCO – NIGERIA DRAMATIC CLASHES
- CHAN 2014 Quarter Finals
Some dramatic matches have been contested by Morocco and Nigeria. Easily recalled by www.sportsvillagesquare.com is the quarterfinal match four years ago in South Africa when Nigeria came back from three goals down at half time to dramatically win the match 4-3.
It has remained the most dramatic come-back encounter in the history of the African Nations Championship.
- Nigeria’s Ejike Uzoenyi veers past a Moroccan in Nigeria’s dramatic come-back feat against Morocco four years ago.
- Los Angeles Olympic Games Qualifiers
The www.sportsvillagesquare.com recalls that both countries competed for the final qualifying ticket for the football tournament of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games in February 1984.
The first leg match in Lagos, which happens to be the only international appearance of Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi at senior level for Nigeria, Morocco forced a goalless draw. The return leg in Casablanca also ended goalless, but the hosts qualified beating the Chief Onigbinde tutored side 4-3 in the ensuing penalty shootout.
- 1984 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers
Earlier, both sides had battled to goalless draws in two matches played in Benin City and Casablanca. Nigeria prevailed 4-3 on penalties to qualify for the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cote d’Ivoire.
Nigeria wen all the way to the final but lost 1-3 to Cameroon. It was the first time ever that Nigeria lost to Cameroon at national team level.
- 1976 Africa Cup of Nations
With Nigeria rated as underdogs, the then Green Eagles performed beyond analysts’ imagination when they beat defending champions, DR Congo (then Zaire) in a Group B opener in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. They followed up with a 1-0 win over Sudan before stumbling against Morocco in the last group match.
Nigeria and Morocco met again in the next stage of the competition played on league basis. Dramatically, Nigeria shot ahead in the 50th minute through right winger, Baba Otu Mohammed who converted a pass from Ogidi Ibeabuchi who had earlier gotten the ball from a corner kick by Haruna Ilerika.
Nigeria held on tenaciously to the lead till the 80th minute when Morocco’s skipper and eventual African Footballer of the Year 1976 levelled up. But a minute to end the fiercely contested match, Morocco’s substitute player, Guezzar got the winner to put the North Africans on the path to winning their only title till date.
- Nigeria’s Kenneth Olayombo struggles for ball possession with three Moroccans in a 1976 Africa Cup of Nations clash in Addis Ababa
- 1970 World Cup qualifiers
Both Nigeria and Morocco along with Sudan got to the last stage of the qualifying series for 1970 World Cup in Mexico. It was a triangular league which Nigeria began with a 2-2 draw with Sudan in Ibadan.
But a 2-1 loss to Morocco in Casablanca proved disastrous as it became the ultimate decider following Nigeria’s 3-3 draw with Sudan in Khartoum while Morocco drew with Sudan away and won at home.
Even though Nigeria won the last match, 2-0 in Ibadan, it turned a pyrrhic victory as Morocco had secured the World Cup ticket.
- 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers
Nigeria and Morocco met for the first time ever in a Tokyo Olympic Games qualifier in Lagos. Nigeria won handsomely, 3-0 and it looked as if the then Green Eagles would advance to the next stage.
But in the return leg the following year in Casablanca, the hosts won 4-1. At the time, away goals did not count as double in tie-breaking. Another match was fixed for a neutral ground in Dakar Senegal. Morocco came back from an own goal by Hadjani to win 2-1.
CRY FOR VENGEANCE
Sunday’s match could also be a grudge encounter. Morocco will be seeking to avenge their predecessors’ dramatic 4-3 loss four years ago while Nigeria will wish to avenge for the Austin Jay Jay Okocha led squad’s 0-1 loss to Morocco in the opening Group D duel at Tunisia 2004 Africa Cup of Nations.
- A Nigerian fan sat down disappointedly following Morocco’s 1-0 defeat of Super Eagles at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia. This is the last time Morocco beat Nigeria.
The Super Eagles will be avenging losses in qualifications for 1964 and 1984 Olympics as well as the 1970 World Cup. Morocco will have the same feeling concerning their loss to Nigeria in the qualification for the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations. Sports Village Square also recalls that it was a defeat of Morocco that qualified Nigeria for the final match of the 1980 Africa Cup of nations which the then Green Eagles won.