Over time, you’ve heard the story of Nigeria vs India where India supposedly won Nigeria with up to 99 goals. It’ll be difficult to be a Nigerian if you’ve not heard of it before. The story is as old as Nigeria’s football history.
For many years, this story has been told orally and many Nigerians actually believe it even though there’s no actual proof to it. Nevertheless, recently, the story isn’t as much in circulation as it used to be.
In this article, we’ll be looking at Nigeria vs India World Cup history. Find out if the 99 – 1 story is true or not and what actually happened on the said match day.
First of all, what are the facts of the 99 – 1 match? Well, in this match, India was said to have won Nigeria 99 goals to 1 due to their “supernatural” powers; something Nigerians would call “juju” or “jazz”.
It’s said that instead of 11 players, the Indian football team had 22 players on the pitch with each player doubling. In different instances, the referee had to pause the game to count the Indian players and whenever that happened, they were 11. Furthermore, it’s said that whenever Nigerian player tries to play the ball, it changes into a lion head which scares them and they leave it for the Indians. That was how the Indians managed to score up to 99 goals.
At a point, the rules of the game changed. It was stated that if Nigeria could get just 1 goal, they would win the game. Due to this resolution, Samuel Okwaraji decided to take the risk to kick the ball into the Indian net which made him lose his life. That was how Nigeria got their one goal and the game ended. Subsequently, it’s believed that India was banned from playing football by FIFA after this game.
Is this story true? The answer is NO. This is a false football match that never happened. There’s no way a football such as that could have taken place without there being any historical proof. In this writer’s opinion, the story was only made believable due to lack of internet, superstition in Nigeria, and the Hong Kong Shaolin Soccer movie that was released in 2001. The Shaolin Soccer movie made a lot of people believe that Asians play football with “Jazz” which is false. The movie is fiction and their football matches can’t happen in real life.
What Actually Happened?
Well, nothing happened. As mentioned earlier, the story was made popular because of the Shaolin Soccer movie and also because of the death of Samuel Okwaraji. Samuel Okwaraji actually died while playing for Nigeria and all of this sold the story.
Nigeria and India have never played in a football match, talk more about playing in a World Cup competition. India has never featured in the World Cup after they withdrew in 1950. Meanwhile, the Nigerian player Samuel Okwaraji died in 1989 – about 39 years apart.
The truth is that India has had a lot of myths concerning its football team. The Indian football team withdrew from the 1950 World Cup due to financial reasons. At the time, the board thought Indian players weren’t qualified enough to perform well at the World Cup compared to other teams and that sponsoring the Indian national team to the World Cup would be a waste of money.
However, the myth has it that the Indian national team wanted to play barefoot instead of boots. FIFA refused to let them play barefoot and that’s why they withdrew. This, as stated, is a myth. Another way to debunk Nigeria vs India 99 – 1 match is to look at history. Officially, the highest-scoring international football match in history is Australia vs American Samoa game in 2001. Australia won the game by 31 goals to nil.
The game also isn’t very the same on everyone’s lips. There are versions where the game ended 100 – 1, 99 – 0, and versions where the football changed to stone instead of lion or fire. Another version says that Samuel Okwaraji collapsed after performing three back flings to celebrate his goal
There was no internet or mobile phones in Nigeria until the late 90s. As a result, there was no way for people to verify any information they were getting. This is why the story was very believable when it was in circulation.
About Samuel Okwaraji’s Death
The death of this professional Nigerian footballer in 1989 fueled the story of India winning Nigeria 99-1. While the player died is related to a football game, it was never against a supernatural Indian football team. Samuel Okwaraji played as a midfielder in Nigeria. He played for several football clubs in Europe as well including SSV Ulm, Dinamo Zagreb, Austria Klagenfurt, VfB Stuttgart, and K. Berchem Sport.
He lost his life while playing an international match for Nigeria against Angola on 12th August 1989. Specifically, he collapsed in the 77th minute of the game and it was a World Cup qualification match. This happened in Lagos state Nigeria so the news was all over the country.
Samuel Okwaraji died at just 25 years old. In his autopsy, he died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy complications as he had high blood pressure and an enlarged heart. He was part of the Nigerian football team that won the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) the previous year. His statue currently stands in front of the National Stadium in Lagos where he died.
This is the true and verifiable story about how Samuel Okwaraji died which means the story about him dying in a football game against India is false just as the game itself is.
The India vs Nigeria football match which supposedly ended 99 goals to one is a myth that never happened. Nigeria has never played India in the World cup or any other competition; not even in a friendly game. The only way a football team can win the other up to 99 goals is if the match was played on a PlayStation.