BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
A Ghana versus Nigeria football match is not just another encounter. It is a battle for supremacy! This has been so since both countries under the colonial era first clashed at national team level on October 21, 1951.
Nigeria triumphed 5-0 in the maiden edition of an annual competition for the Jalco Cup. Since, the rivalry has not ceased. It doesn’t matter the level of the competition – whether at club level, gender based or age-graded.
That is the background to a potentially explosive clash on Saturday as both teams meet to decide which one goes to the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Tanzania next year.
It is the second time both will meet at final level of a competition. Twenty five years ago, a crop of Nigerian stars starring Wilson Oruma, Celestine Babayaro and Nwankwo Kanu among others beat Ghana 2-1 in the final match of the then FIFA U-16 World Tournament in Japan, a competition now called FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Remarkably, it was the first time, two African teams played in the final match of a FIFA competition, a scene recreated three years ago when Nigeria beat Mali to win their fifth title.
Ghana on the other hand are still in search of a third title since winning in Italy in 1991 in the absence of Nigeria and in 1995. When both clashed in Japan in 1993, they had a title a-piece before Nigeria trampled on Ghana to win a second title.
Ever since, the Golden Eaglets have almost made winning, a habit after amassing an enviable five victories.
As both clash on Saturday, the Ghanaian sides are the obvious underdogs considering the team struggling to beat Cote d’Ivoire 2-1 while Nigeria had days earlier pummeled the same team 5-1!
On head-to-head, the Golden Eaglets and Black Starlets have met eight times . Nigeria won four times and lost only twice. Two other encounters were drawn.
But the most prominent of Nigeria’s defeat of Ghana was the last encounter five years ago in Morocco when Ghana lost by goal margin that spelt out the country’s name.
But can this set of Golden Eaglets perform the same feat? The occasion will decide when they meet at 7.30pm Nigerian time.
GHANA VS NIGERIA: HEAD-TO-HEAD
P W D L F A
Nigeria 8 4 2 2 15 10
Ghana 8 2 2 4 10 15
10 Aug. 1986 Ghana 1-1 Nigeria
23 Aug. 1986 Nigeria 0-0 Ghana
4 Sept. 1993 Ghana 1-2 Nigeria
28 May 1995 Ghana 3-1 Nigeria
30 Jan 1999 Ghana 3-1 Nigeria
23 May 1999 Ghana 1-2 Nigeria
17 Mar. 2007 Ghana 0-2 Nigeria
14 Apr. 2013 Ghana 1-6 Nigeria