Today in sports history: Ghana beat Nigeria in historic FIFA WC qualifier
On this day 28 August 1960 (Exactly 60 years ago today) history was made when two enduring rivals – Ghana and Nigeria – contested the first-ever FIFA World Cup preliminary match south of the Sahara.
28 August 1960, Accra Sports Stadium
Ghana 4 (Edward Acquah 18, Edward Boateng44, Aggrey-Fynn54, Mohamed Salisu55)
Nigeria 1 (Fayemi 50)
Referee: Arthur Holland (England)
Ghana: Addoquaye Laryea, Ben Simmons, Emmanuel Oblitey, Mamah Ankrah, Addo Odametey, Athayi Tanko, Baba Yara, Edward Acquah, Edward Aggrey Fynn, Edward Boateng, Mohamadu Salisu
Nigeria: Olu Onagoruwa, Cletus Onyeama, Godwin Achebe, Fabian Duru, Ejimo Fobiri, Dan Anyiam, Lawrence Omeokachie, Godwin Enamako, Dejo Fayemi, Edwin Nnamoko, Asquo Ekpe
As the ‘winds of change’ were wafting over Africa, so national states were emerging from yoke of colonialism. The continent had just formed its own confederation, with the launch in 1958 of the Confederation of African Football, and for the first time the continent had its own qualifying campaign for the FIFA World Cup finals, although the African group winner faced a play-off against a European team for a berth at the 1962 finals.
When this match took place, Ghana was newly independent, while Nigeria was just days away from securing self-rule.
The two west African nations also shared a healthy and long-standing rivalry. They had been playing against each other in an annual tournament known as the Jalco Cup before applying for FIFA membership and joining the world football family.
Just under 12 months before their FIFA World Cup debut, the two countries had played out a thrilling Olympic Games qualifying tie in which Ghana came back from a 3-1 deficit to edge the Nigerians 5-4 on aggregate.
Nigeria’s first national side had only been selected in 1949 and toured England, where the Football Association had donated a coach to them but the side played barefoot. Just a decade later, they had employed the Israeli Moshe Beth-Halevi, although he took over just days before the first FIFA World Cup qualifier.
Ghana also sought assistance from more traditional sources, with Hungarian Joseph Ember at the helm.
Ghana had not been a happy hunting ground for Nigeria in previous years and preparations for start of the FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign had seen them well beaten by African champions Egypt.
The Ghanaians, meanwhile, were hoping for a positive start, mindful that they had beaten the ‘Red Devils’, as Nigeria were then known, 7-0 just five years earlier. The Black Stars were, however, without their star man CK Gyamfi, who had gone off to play for Fortuna Düsseldorf in Germany.
However, there were still a bevy of excellent players at Ghana’s disposal, such as Baba Yara from Kumasi Kotoko and Edward Aggrey-Fynn.
Some 40,000 crammed into the Accra Sports Stadium for the first FIFA World Cup qualifier played south of the Sahara, refereed by Arthur Holland of England, and it took just 18 minutes before Ghana’s Edward Acquah opened the scoring with a trademark left-foot shot.
Addo Odametey dribbled the Nigeria centre forward, Ekpe, whipped the ball past inside right Emenako to skipper Aggrey Fynn who passed it on to inside right Edward Acquah.
Acquah picked the pass on the run and the crowd yelled like mad as he dashed towards the Nigerian goal mouth. Dan Anyiam made a fine effort to hold him at Bay but it was all in vain.
Goalkeeper Onaboruwa was face to face with Acquah who unleashed a terrific shot past him to score.
Just before half-time, Ghana dictated the pace of the match and inside left Edward Boateng increased the score to to 2-0 from an Acquah pass.
But the celebrations did not last long because, just four minutes into the second half, Dejo Fayemi rounded off a rapid attack to haul Nigeria back into contention.
Ghana did not take long to restore their two-goal advantage. Inside right Edward Acquah received a fine pass from outside left Salisu to score.
With twenty minutes to go, Baba Yara combining nicely with Salisu moved upfield beating the Nigerian right flank on their way and ending with a fourth goal scored by Salisu to bring the final score to 4-1
Edward Aggrey -Fynn was known as ‘the master’ for his vision and dribbling skills. He played in what today is the midfield but was then known as a half-back position at the centre of the game.
He was also called a ‘gentleman strategist’ and ‘professor’ and captained the side when Gyamfi was unavailable. That included trips to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and also the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
His career was cut short by a car accident but he went on to coach Asante Kotoko to CAF Champions Cup success and later also took charge of Ghana’s Black Stars.
What happened next…
Nigeria hosted the return leg in Lagos on 10 September 1960 and, despite facing an injury-hit Ghana side, could only draw 2-2. The Black Stars duly qualified to meet Morocco in the African play-off, a tie won 1-0 by the Moroccans over two legs. Morocco then lost 4-2 on aggregate to Spain in the play-off for a place at the 1962 FIFA World Cup finals.
On this day 28 August 1972(Exactly 48 years ago today) Ghana’s Black Stars made a disappointing start of the 1972 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament as they crashed to a 4-0 defeat by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
The wild cheers they received from the predominantly West German crowd at the huge Olympic stadium in Munich failed to inspire the stars, who having started brilliantly, shockingly threw away chances in the first half and in the end went down so heavily.
They set the pattern as early as the 15th minute when centre forward Abukari sent a ball across the G.D.R goal – mouth but there was nobody to connect it home.
Two minutes later, Osei Kofi put Kwasi Owusu through but the striker’s ground shot grazed the post.
The stars were still pressing when, very much against the run of play, the Germans went ahead in the 19th minute, Kreische heading the ball in after Essel Mensah had moved out of the posts.
Obviously encouraged by this, the German piled on pressure and got their second goals minute from half time when Kreische again beat Essel with a header.
The stars missed a chance to pull one back soon after resumption when G. D. R. goalkeeper Croy failed to collect a header by Abukari but the Ghanaian failed to push the ball in and allowed a defender to clear it from the goal – line.
Six minutes later, Peter Lamptey was brought in for Osei Kofi but he could hardly cope with game which G. D. R. continued to dominate.
A minute from the end, Kreische got his personal hat – trick and the Germans fourth goal to put his sides victory beyond doubt.
G.D.R: Jurgen Croy, Manfred Zapf, Lothar Kurbjuweit (Harald Irmscher), Konrad Weise, Siegmar Watzlich, Jurgen Pommerenke, Bernd Bransch, Hans – Jurgen Kreische, Jurgen Sparwasser, Peter Ducke, Joachim Streich
Head coach: Georg Buschner
Ghana: Essel Mensah, Akuetteh Armah, Oliver Acquah, Alex Mingle, John Eshun (C), Ibrahim Sunday, Osei Kofi/Peter Lamptey, Yaw Sam, Gariba Abukari, Kwasi Owusu, Malik Jabir
Head coach: Charles Gyamfi
Referee: Michael Wuertz (USA)