Today In Sports History: Nigeria beat Ghana 3-0 to qualify for 2002 FIFA World Cup
On this day 29 July 2001 (Exactly 19 years ago today ) Nigeria defeated visiting Ghana 3-0 to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup tournament staged in Japan and South Korea.
Tijani Babangida added two first-half goals to Victor Agali’s second-minute strike, moving Nigeria one point above Liberia at the top of African qualifying’s Group B. If Nigeria had drawn or lost, Liberia would have advanced.
Ghana’s goalkeeper Osei Boateng was sent off at a time, the Back Stars had exhausted all their three substitutions and left an outfield player in Emmanuel Osei Kuffour with no option than to guard the post in the early minutes.
Nigeria became the eighth team to secure qualification for the 32-team tournament, joining fellow African group winners Cameroon, Tunisia, South Africa and Senegal, co-hosts Japan and South Korea and holder France
Aftermath -Ghana Sold the match
George Opong Weah did not shed tears openly but he came very close. As Nigeria’s victory over Ghana completely drowned his dream of a first World Cup appearance, and in an apparent escape from the trauma, Weah found a sense of relief in alleging a pre-arranged game.
Speaking in New York to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Liberian team motivator, sponsor and coach/spokesman said: “I am very disappointed that Ghana’s defeat had ruined our aim. The only thing I can say now is that there was a struggle and we did very well and our best to qualify.”
According to him, from the outset, he knew there was going to be a bargain between Nigeria and Ghana in order to edge Liberia out, adding that the boast of Ghana to beat Nigeria was mere propaganda.
Weah alleged that the Black Stars allowed the three goals just to scuttle his chances of appearing in the World Cup to be co-hosted by Japan and South Korea following year.
“You heard from the reporter that Ghana didn’t put up any fight. Their hope is out of the World Cup, but they just went to Nigeria for the sake of it and I knew Ghana was only going to do such thing. For me, I had no hope because I knew Ghana was only going to Nigeria to have some fun.”
On why he was blaming Ghana for his failure not to qualify for the World Cup, Weah said: “I am not blaming Ghana for it because from the beginning I knew they are a weak team to qualify for the World Cup.
“I spoke to Taribo, he told me they were going to qualify …. They went to World Cup before, and deserve it because they play very hard and coming behind the table to the top shows how superior they are. Nigerians have a very great team but Liberia is a very little team”.
Weah lamented that Liberia’s failure was the loss at home in the hands of Ghana, adding that Liberia would always stage a come back for the mundial game.
“We came so close, but the Liberian players must be responsible for what happened. I think they are regretting that now. The Liberian people did everything for the team to qualify, I must commend them. We tried because nobody expected us to go that far .”
On this day 29 July 2004 (Exactly 16 years ago today) The Confederation of African Football (CAF) appointed Dr Nyaho Nyaho -Tamakloe, then Chairman of the Ghana Football Association, (GFA) into the Ethics and Fair play Committee of the Confederation.
On this day 29 July 2005 (Exactly 15 years ago today ) Aziz Zakari of Ghana won the 100m in 10.02sec from Marc Burns of Trinidad and Tobago in 10.07sec at the Bislett Games in Oslo, in the final meeting before the Helsinki World Athletics Championships. Amercian Tyson Gay was third in 10.15sec.
On this day 29 July 2001 (Exactly 19 years ago today) Hosts Colombia won the Copa America for the first time, beating nine-man Mexico 1-0 in the final of a tournament devalued by the absence of Argentina and the top players of most other countries.
To underline the chaotic nature of the tournament, the match was briefly halted in the fifth minute when two late-arriving parachutists, who were taking part in the closing ceremony, landed on the pitch as play was in progress.
The match was marred by violence and indiscipline. Mexico had Juan Rodriguez sent off in the 80th minute for a tackle from behind on Jairo Castillo, and Gerardo Torrado dismissed in injury time.
Coach Javier Aguirre was also ordered from the touchline in the first half for repeatedly moving out of his technical area and the match finished amid furious protests from the Mexican team.
Between the scraps, Colombian defender Ivan Cordoba headed the winner in the 65th minute of a vicious, bad-tempered final in which Paraguayan referee Ubaldo Aquino, who never looked in control of the game, allowed punches, kicks and bad tackles to go unpunished.
Colombia, who had reached the final only once before, losing to Peru in 1975, finished the competition with a 100 per cent record and without conceding a goal in six games. For Mexico, who have taken part as guests since 1993, it was the second time they have finished as runners-up.
Aristizabal hit the post early on but the competition’s leading scorer with six goals limped off in the 32nd minute with a pulled thigh muscle and was replaced by Jairo Castillo.
Mexico’s best effort was in the 64th minute with a powerful free kick by Ramon Morales which goalkeeper Oscar Cordoba did well to save.
Colomiba’s winner came one minute later when Cordoba rose to head in a free kick taken by Ivan Lopez.
Colombia became the seventh of sixteen participant countries to win the Copa América.
On this day 29 July 1957 (Exactly 63 years ago today) Floyd Patterson knocked out Tommy Jackson in round 10 for heavyweight boxing title
By: George ‘Alan Green’ Mahamah
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