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Nigerian Football

Surprising! No teammate ever added to Muda Lawal’s goals

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA
It is 32 years today since former Nigerian midfield maestro, Muda Lawal passed on.
In the Nigerian national team matches of the 1970s and 1980s, there was something intriguing about goals scored by Muda Lawal who died 32 years ago today.
Sports Village Square observed that they were usually the last for the teams he played for! His first Africa Cup of Nations’ goal was in 1976 against Guinea. It turned to be Nigeria’s only goal of the match that was drawn 1-1.
But the goal that drew the best applause was the winner against Egypt in a classification duel of the 1976 tournament.
It was a magnificent solo effort and backbreaking exploit against the Egyptians in the battle for the third place position of the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations.

In the 85th minute of the game, score-line stood at 2-2 and there was intense Egyptian pressure on Nigeria’s defence for a possible winning goal.
Apparently to douse tension on his defence, Joseph Erico, the Nigerian goalkeeper, sent a long kick to Muda Lawal who was lurking half way near the left line.
Like lightening, the wing half –turned attacker tapped the ball over a challenging Egypt’s Ibrahim Youssef and raced away.
Exhibiting superb ball control, coolness and magnificent footwork, Muda set the on-rushing Egyptian goalkeeper, El-Sharet Sharaf, to the wrong way, and not losing a step, he outwitted the left half-back, Ali Hassan and finally slotted the ball beyond the desperate outstretched legs of right back, Sallah Sallah who was then guarding the goal mouth.
What a beautiful goal that gave Nigeria a 3-2 win. It was Muda Lawal’s first continental honour. Later in 1976, he was a member of the African Winners’ Cup successful squad of the IICC Shooting Stars.
Another third-place medal with Nigeria in the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations before a winning medal of 1980 all added to the laurels of Muda Lawal.
But the peculiarity of his goals was that they turned to be the last for his teams. In other word, when Muda scored, no team-mate added to it.
The only match that appeared to be an exception was when a goal was wrongly officially attributed to him. That was in the opening match of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations in Lagos in the Nigeria’s 3-1 defeat of Tanzania.
The opening goal of the match was attributed to Muda. But a video forensic analysis revealed that Aloysius Atuegbu scored the goal and that Muda Lawal along with Okey Isima only joined in the celebration.
In other instances, that Muda opened scoring; the matches were either drawn or lost by Nigeria. In 1976 Africa Cup of Nations’ second round match with Guinea in Dire Dawa, Muda opened scoring in the 52nd minute, but almost at the dot of regulation time, Papa Camara equalized for Guinea.
Sports Village Square also recalled that the scenario was the same when Muda opened scoring for Nigeria in a World Cup qualifier against Tanzania in Lagos in December 1980, the match ended in a frustrating 1-1 draw.
When he scored, it appeared there was an unwritten rule: “it had to be the last for his team”. In other instances, he closed scoring for his side as it happened in a 5-0 defeat for Benin Republic in 1979, 3-0 defeat of Algeria and Liberia in 1980 and 1981 respectively.
It was not a huge surprise therefore, when Muda opened scoring against Cameroon in the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations final match in Abidjan. No Nigerian was able to add to the 10th minute goal. Nigeria lost 3-1.
What was more, it was the first time Cameroon national team ever beat Nigeria having been dominated by the then Green Eagles in previous 10 encounters – three of which ended in phenomenal defeat of Cameroon in Yaoundé.
Perhaps one of the most remarkable goals Muda scored was against the then IICC Shooting Stars, the team that brought him into prominence. After he left the club following the team’s disbandment in 1984, he had a stint with Stationery Stores of Lagos.
With Shooting Stars battling in the murky waters of relegation in the then Nigeria National League in 1985, they played the match that confined them into relegation as Muda Lawal scored the crucial goal for Stores at the waterfront Onikan Stadium. He burst into tears after the match.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Nigerian Football

Osimhen’s outburst was a moment of madness, says Amaju

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Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President and a  FIFA Council member, Amaju Pinnick has expressed shock at last month’s outburst by Super Eagles’ striker, Victor Osimhen against Finidi George.

“It is very unfortunate”, Amaju Pinnick remarked on an Arise Television programme. The former NFF president said he had put a call to Osimhen who was very remorseful while the telephone conversation lasted.

  “I told him he has to apologise, and I am sure he will if he has not yet done so.” Amaju remarked that he could not comprehend what went wrong as Osimhen was the most cool-headed player in the national team.

He went on to remark that Finidi George was not a personality to be disregarded like that. He has won virtually every honour available during his playing days and was a member of the Super Eagles at their peak when Nigeria ranked fifth in the world.

“I believe players should learn to respect their coaches”, said the former NFF boss.

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I prefer a foreign coach for the Super Eagles, says Amaju

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Nigeria’s FIFA Council member, Amaju Pinnick has told the world that he has always been an advocate of foreign coaches for the Super Eagles. He spoke on Arise Television while fielding questions with Reuben Abati, Rufai Oseni and Ayo Mairo-Ese. 

His reason for being averse to indigenous  coaches stemmed from lack of respect for them by the players.

“Yes, the Nigerian coaches have the requisite knowledge and the technical ability, but modern football is beyond that in managing players.

“Will the national team players respect the coach? The sad thing is that they don’t”, said Amaju Pinnick.

 He however revealed that he supported the appointment of Finidi George owing to the circumstances that the NFF found itself after the exit of Jose Peseiro.

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 The NFF, he revealed, had no money to hire a foreign coach. The body therefore went for the most available option, Finidi to ensure a smooth transition.

 “Finidi was part of the coaching crew of Peseiro and it was therefore logical to ask him to continue.

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Nigerian Football

NFF to train referees on VAR

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Application of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR)  may soon be introduced into Nigeria’s domestic football competitions.

This is deduced from the statement of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Ibrahim Gusau while addressing the annual general meeting of the Nigeria Premier League.

He also disclosed plans by the federation to train Nigerian referees on the application Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Gusau revealed that  NFF had already secured the communication gadget that the referees will use during matches.

“We have to train the personnel that will manage the VAR now. We have selected some of the referees that we are to start training.

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It is not a training of one day, one month or two months; it is a training that will take a little bit of time. After the training they have to go on practical training on the VAR system by going out while some matches are ongoing to see how they can manage it. But when we are sure we have the personnel that can manage it in the next one or two years, we will start to see how we can use VAR in our system,” Gusau said.

He also said that the federation intends to make the league attractive by discouraging Nigerian players from joining other lesser glamourous African clubs without established football pedigree.

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