You are here: HomeSports2008 02 02Article 138639

Soccer News of Saturday, 2 February 2008

Source: Goal.com

Biggest Rivalry In Africa: Ghana vs. Nigeria

Almost a year to the day, on a freezing night in the harrowing surroundings of Griffin Park, Brentford, you would have been forgiven for thinking you were in West Africa. At least that was the impression I got from the perplexed West London locals.

The occasion: An international friendly between Ghana and Nigeria.

The streets were coloured, the atmosphere was electric and to my personal delight Ghana triumphed 4-1 against the Super Eagles. In the game, every Ghanaian goal was greeted with a pitch invasion, and after the game Nigerian’s in and outside of the stadium were being abused in a good-natured way.

This Sunday, the occasion between these two rivals will dwarf the earlier friendly meeting, and fans are having sleepless nights just thinking about the consequences of defeat. This is without doubt the biggest rivalry in Africa, after the Ghanaians showed the Nigerians just how to play football.

The rivalry is not limited just to football, but to culture; economy; and social standing. It is a wonderful rivalry, with no elements of violence, but just a healthy distain and begrudging respect for each other. As a London-born Ghanaian I have been on the receiving end of abuse from my Nigerian compatriots and I have given it back.

A typical example of a day in the life of a Ghanaian - Nigerian fans rivalry would be a Ghanaian accusing Nigerians of coming to their country, stealing all the food, bringing their squad a fraudulent (admittedly world class) con-artist to rob people, while in their own country you will get shot for just minding your business! Nigerians will respond by saying Ghana is nothing without them, that they have no jobs in their own country so they come to Nigeria to live in a real thriving economy.

This massive game is just what this competition needs. I have watched from London with embarrassment and anger after each humiliation the competition has thrown. From the grass being the length of an abandoned public park; journalists being robbed and attacked; the abysmal floodlight failure; to the failure to reduce ticket prices for people who at the worst of times cannot afford to buy food!

It is amazing to think after four-plus years of planning; these incompetent dunderheads at CAF were unable to do things a six-year-old would have implemented!

Neither side has been convincing in the lead up to this game, but Ghana as winners of Group A are the favourites to end a 16-year wait for a competitive win against the Super Eagles (Man, I regret writing that!). Nigeria on the other hand has limped through to the quarter final, playing some of the worst football in the competition.

Berti Vogts and Claude Le Roy are fully aware that their jobs are on the line with a defeat, and the players’ houses and cars will also be under threat with a defeat.

On Sunday, Accra will be buzzing, just as London will be. At 5pm feeling a little bloated from the Joloff rice I will stuff in my face from 2pm, I will be jumping up and down like every Ghanaian. The consequences of defeat are unthinkable and with defeat, I will be in self imposed solitary confinement for around a month.

As a final note I will let all Nigerians around the world know this: You are not coming to our house and knocking us out of our competition, Go Black Stars!!

Overall, the two teams have met 59 times. Ghana lead with 24 wins to Nigeria’s 16, with the other 19 matches ending in draws.