How Maureen Mmadu’s name erroneously crept into FIFA Century list

How Maureen Mmadu’s name erroneously crept into FIFA Century list
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 Maureen Mmadu #15 of Nigeria celebrates victory in the women’s football preliminary match on August 14, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at Karaiskaki Stadium in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has officially declared that former international Maureen Mmadu did not make 101 international appearances for the team.

It has however taken over a decade for the declaration to be made.

The player in question had made a surprise appearance of the list of players who had made 100 international appearances.

Had that been established, she would have been the first Nigerian to achieve the enviable feat.

At the time, the most capped Nigerian footballer was the lat Muda Lawal who had 85 caps in a glorious career that spanned 10 years (22 January 1975 to 18 August 1985).

Muda’s record was only equaled by Joseph Yobo on 12 November 2011 when Nigeria played a goalless draw with Botswana in Benin City when Stephen Keshi made his debut as Super Eagles’ head coach.

Two days later, Yobo raised the bar with his 87th cap when Nigeria beat Zambia 2-0 in a friendly match in Kaduna.

It was a landmark for Yobo who made his international debut  playing against Zambia on 24 March 2001. It was against the same team that he became Nigeria’s most capped player and went on to become the first centurion on 30 June 2014 in Brazil when Nigeria lost to France.

But not all believed that Yobo was the first Nigerian to clock a century of caps. The Maureen Mmadu claim lingererd.

This reporter disputed the woman footballer’s claim and launched an investigation into it as the player’s international appearances were just a fraction over 50 when it was claimed to be 101 after her last international appearance in 2007.

The figures did not add up. First, the number of matches the Falcons had played from 1995 when Mmadu debuted and 2007 when she last played, was far below 100. How could she have had 101?

A mail was sent to FIFA on 4 December 2010 and the reply obtained two days later pointed to a German journalist, Rainer Hennies  who was the speciallist in compiling stats on women football for FIFA.

Then began  a chain of e-mail exchanges between this reporter and Hennies.

The German pointed out that sometime in 2003, after the Super Falcons qualified for the football event of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, he contacted the then NFA to supply the number of international appearnces of the Falcons’ players.

According to him, he gathers information through the various football associations every four years for both the Olympics and the Women’s World Cup. The Nigerian “FA is just inventing statistics and still seems to be happy with it,” Rainer wrote in an e-mail response to enquiries.

  According to him, that is why Nigerian players were hardly considered to be listed on the Century Club since the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

No doubt, record keeping in Nigerian sports is a difficult task. It is also the same in most African countries.

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