Monday, 10 July 2017

India vs Ghana: 99 - 1 and the Legend of the Milo Guy

The draw for the group stages of Under 17 world cup in India is done and Ghana is in group with the host nation India! You know what that means, right? Revenge time! You really aren’t Ghanaian enough if you don’t know the very real football match between Ghana and India that was played on a date now lost in history.

I first heard the story when I was about seven years old. This man in my neighborhood who everyone called Uncle, swore he had witnessed the match himself. Ok, ok, let me just tell the story of how it happened.

I’m still not sure what the tournament was or if it was just a friendly tour by the Indian national team but from what I hear, they played Nigeria too, with a similar result.

Different people have different version of how the Indian team entered the pitch. The two notable versions are:

1. The referee came onto the pitch and placed a bottle in the center circle and like Genies, the Indian players jumped out of the bottle one at a time. This should probably have been a sign for the Ghanaian team to abandon the match but for some reason which I don’t understand, they stayed.

2. The players came out of the referee’s pocket. Players kept jumping out of his pocket like those magic satchels you see in cartoons. If there was ever a game where you could be certain of the ref’s bias, it was this one.

Indian Players arriving on the pitch

So confident was the Indian team in their abilities that they said if Ghana managed to score even one goal, the Ghanaian team would be declared winners. This Indian team was on an unbeaten run with the longest run of clean-sheets the likes of which had never been seen before and probably never will. 

The ref blew the whistle and from the onset, it was obvious something was wrong, the Ghanaian players were seen either avoiding the ball or rolling on the floor in agony right after kicking it. According to the players, any time the tried to kick the ball it would turn into a metal pot (dadesÉ›n). The Ghanaian goalie also claimed that any time the ball came in his direction, it would turn into a fully grown Lion rushing at him. Of course, the spectators couldn’t see any of this and the ref claimed he didn’t. I highly doubt the ref’s version, the players jumped out of his pocket (or bottle) for God’s sake. He was probably in on all this dark magic.

Anyway, due to these “technical hitches”, the India team went on to score goal after goal after goal. Being Indian, you just know they danced for quite a while after each goal. The score line started to get embarrassing (understatement of the millennium). By the 85th minutes, the Indian team had scored 90 goals (that’s not a typo) and by the 89th minute they had scored 99 goals.

Somehow, within the space of 90 minutes, they had scored 99 goals, each goal mostly probably followed by minutes of dancing, much to the embarrassment of the whole of Ghana. The stadium, like a cemetery, is death silent as the fourth official raises his board to show four minutes of added time. Added time for what?

The Indian players satisfied with the humiliation they’ve rained on the Ghanaian team can’t be bothered to score a hundredth goal and keep passing the ball around. The Ghanaian players are meanwhile still avoiding the ball. One Ghanaian player, Nfum, goes to the touch line and after a talk with the medical team is seen strapping his foot with rolls of bandage.

Ninety second minute, a heavily strapped Nfum rushes one of the Indian defenders as they were passing the ball just outside the 18 yard box, steals the ball and unleashes a powerful left footed shot. Bones, could be heard cracking as his left foot made contact with the ball. The Indian goalie, caught by surprise, does not react fast enough and the ball rolls into the goal post.

Ninety fourth minute, Scoreline 99 – 1. The whole stadium bursts into rapturous shouting, Ghana, Ghana, Ghana!! Meanwhile, Nfum, is writhing on the ground, in agony. The paramedic rush onto the pitch to help him. Back then, sport medicine wasn’t a big thing and the paramedic only had ice bags. Nfum is carted off the pitch and the ref blows the whistle for the end of the match.

As agreed before the match, the Indian team concedes defeat by virtue of the one goal Nfum scored. A few days later, on the news, the whole nation gets the heartbreaking news that Nfum passed away from complications from his injury.

In honour of his sacrifice, the myth and legend that Nfum has now become has his picture put on the can of Ghana’s favorite breakfast drink, Milo, till this day.

FIFA, tired of seeing the ridiculous scorelines in India’s matches, bans them from all international tournaments. A ban which was only recently overturned.

This is the very real, totally believable and not at all ridiculous story of how Nfum came to be on the Milo can for his bravery and why until now India has not played in any international matches.

The Man, the Myth, the Legend; Nfum
(his under 17 days)


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Prequel to Boat Race 3 (Operation Delta Forces)

After two successive abysmal performances at the Boat Race, people were fed up. People started complaining about how they couldn’t take the constant disgrace of coming last in every race. Various “Think Tank” groups had been formed that focused on explaining to people why the current coach and management body of the team needed to go. There were regular public symposiums with themes focused on the financial implications of taking part in the race, others focused on historic performances of the past.

People would now gather in parks discussing the first boat race the nation ever took part in and how the participants were patriotic and how despite limited resources, they had won the boat race against teams with better technology, against all odds. The good old days were all people talked about. People who weren’t old enough to know about the said good old days talked about it with such passion that one would have thought they lived it. That winning team was nicknamed the Golden Generation.

Eventually, the citizens decided it was time for change. The current team had spent millions on a luxury yacht for the last race and had still come last. There was a team that had been begging to be allowed to represent the nation for a while and most people started to agree they had nothing to lose. After all, it wasn’t like they could do any worse than being last.

It was decided that the two teams would be given a chance to convince the people at a town council meeting. The general consensus among the people was that the Elephant team was to be given a chance to represent the people at the Boat race. The only people who thought the Umbrella team would be given the mandate were the Umbrella people.

Though the people had assured the Elephant team of their support, the Elephant team, used to being disappointed decided to sell a bit of their souls to the Devil in exchange for a guaranteed victory. The Devil in turn gave them the Delta forces, a malevolent and mischievous team that went on to, by what can’t be explained by logical reasoning, help them win the mandate of the people.

So the deed was done. Elephant team was now going to represent the people. The new team immediately out-doored the boat that would be used for the next race. It was an exact replica of the boat the Golden Generation had used. People were inspired. The Golden Generation team had been made up of six rowers and a leader who was the navigator and strategy coordinator. The boat could technically take twenty people but for best results a smaller and more efficient team was advisable.

When the Elephant team announced the people who would actually be rowing in the race, people got a bit confused. The rowing team was made up of twenty four people and one leader even though the boat’s maximum capacity was twenty. Quite a lot of the rowers looked like they were past their prime and didn’t really inspire confidence.

According to the leader of the Elephant team, all twenty four rowers were experts in various fields necessary to win the race. One old man was an expert in Bernoulli’s principle, another an expert in Archimedes principle, another a marine Biologist and so on and so forth. Even though the people weren’t quite sure of what those titles had to do with boat racing, they were mightily impressed by the big words they couldn’t understand.

The Umbrella team tried to make a scene and point out that there was no way the Elephant team could win the race with such a team but after years of incompetence, no one really cared about their opinion. The people were once again quick to point out that, the new team couldn’t possibly do worse than the last.

The Elephant team started training for the race which was a few months away. On the first day of training, it was noted that the team was one oar short. The twenty four people somehow managed to squeeze in the boat and sit twelve at each side with the leader dangerously balanced at the front deck. The boat was barely afloat and because one side was one oar short, the rowing didn’t go very smoothly.

There was a man on the beach shouting at them, “there are too many people in the boat” and the leader shouted back, “I know what I’m doing”. Rumor had it that that man was once a member of the Golden Generation but you know rumors, there are no ways to verify.

The next day at training two more oars were missing but the team went ahead and filled the boat. Now there were three people without oars. The rowing was even more unbalanced than the previous day and the extra three plus the leader were now just dead weight.

The third day another two oars were missing. At this point, the leader was starting to get worried so he went to a famous shaman who told him that the Delta forces that had helped them win the people’s favor were restless and now without a sense of purpose. Being the mischievous spirit they were they had now resorted to stealing their oars. When the leader asked the Shaman what he could do to pacify the forces, the Shaman said, “the answer lies within you” then charged the leader an obscene amount of money for the consultation.

The Boat race is in a few months. Everyday team Elephant shows up at the beach to train and no matter how many times they replace the oars, they are at least one oar short. The boat looks like it can barely hold the weight of all twenty four rowers plus the leader but they insist they know what they are doing.

People have started becoming skeptical about the chances of the new team in the next boat race but some have pointed out the new team can’t possibly do worse than the last. Some aren’t so sure.

Boat race is in a few months, we live to see.

Delta Forces by @BRIGHTACKWERH
This is a follow up to two previous posts on this Blog:
Boat Race 1: A Political Parable
Boat Race 2: A Political Parable