BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
It’s 28 years today since Nigeria’s mercurial midfielder, Muda Lawal passed on. It is also 41 years also that another former Nigerian skipper, Dan Anyiam also died.
Both notable Nigerian footballers shared common attributes apart from passing on July 6 dates. They were captains of the football teams.
Sports Village Square recalls that Anyiam, a pioneer member of Nigerian national team 70 years ago was also the first Nigerian indigenous national team coach.
He was a member of the coaching crew on December 8, 1962 when Nigeria first met Cameroon in Lagos. Nigeria won 3-1 and also inflicted another 2-1 defeat on Cameroon in Yaoundé in the Kwame Nkrumah Cup.
So Nigeria maintained an unbeaten eight-match run across all competitions and in all venues till the final match of the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
There is a mystery in goals scored by Muda Lawal. Each time he scored, no member of his team scored again in that match.
Invariably, his goals were always the last for his team. So it was on March 18, 1984 when he opened scoring in the Africa Cup of Nations’ final match with Cameroon.
It was Nigeria’s only goal in the match lost by 3-1. In his 86 matches, Muda scored 10 times. The exception is the opening goal of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations which was wrongly credited to him. Video clips show it was scored by Aloysius Atuegbu.
In instances Muda scored, they were the last goals for Nigeria. Consider the following: He first scored for Nigeria on March 9, 1976 against Guinea in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia; it was Nigeria’s only goal at the match in which Guinea scored a last minute equalizer.
His next goal was against Egypt, it was the winning goal of the March 14, 1976 match.
When he scored two years later on July 14 against Mali at the 3rd All Africa Games in Algeria, it was the last goal of the encounter which Nigeria won 3-1. Again his goal against Malawi on July 25, 1978 was Nigeria’s last in the match.
Muda also scored the last goal in the 5-0 defeat of Benin Republic in a friendly match of November 9, 1979 in Lagos just as his goal was the last in the 3-0 defeat of Algeria at the 1980 Africa Cup final.
When he opened scoring against Tanzania in a World Cup qualifying match on December 6, 1980 in Lagos, it turned to be Nigeria’s last goal of the match that ended in 1-1 draw.
On October 3, 1981, Nigeria beat Liberia 3-0 in a friendly match. The last two goals were scored by Muda. So, when he scored early in the 1984 Africa Cup final match against Cameroon little wonder, no other Nigerian player could score in the game Nigeria lost 3-1.