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The day India beat Nigeria 99-1 (Facts or Myths?)



Today in the history section of we’ll be looking into the story we all must have heard as kids about India beating Nigeria 99-1.

According to the story we were told, the following were myths:

  • That the match ended with India scoring 99 goals and Nigeria scoring just one goal.
  • That Nigerians were unable to kick the ball because the football kept turning to a lion which scared them away.
  • That Indians later agreed that if Nigeria could score one goal, they would concede defeat.
  • That Samuel Okwaraji scored the winning goal and lost his life in the process because the ball turned into stone as he was about to kick it.
  • That FIFA banned India from soccer because they used juju (black magic) in that match.

Now what actually happened (the facts)

A friendly match played in the ’70s in a National Stadium like Lagos should have enough publicity and records (this was not 1840).

Moreover, there is no record of the match in the archives of the football governing body of both countries. No radio, television, or newspaper records of the event. Even the popular newspaper the, Daily Times, would have “screamed” it on their banner headline.

Another scenario is that the striker who scored the lone goal died immediately after he scored. But who could it have been?

However, the proponents of the fairy tale said it was Samuel Okwaraji but Okwaraji died of heart failure on August 12, 1989, during a FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Angola in the 77th minute. This proves another flaw in the story.

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Also, counting one goal as three goals in a friendly match is against FIFA rules and the

implications of doing that would result in Nigeria’s revered internationals not taking part in the game. It would be termed unserious. There are many aspects of the game that do not augur well with FIFA standards and the Indian players were not known by any name.

Lastly, most of the players, especially Peter Rufai, mentioned in the story were not full fledged internationals as of 1970. In fact, some of them were just toddlers if we would go by that date.

Now here are the answers to most of your questions below.

On the 12th of August 1989, Nigeria lost Sam Okwaraji.

Sam Okwaraji was the player rumored to have lost his life in that game when in truth he died during a FIFA World Cup qualifying game against Angola in the 77th minute.

He collapsed and died of cognitive heart failure.

So that is the only truthful thing about that story, the fact that a Nigerian player di*d during a football match. That’s it. The match was not against India, we did not lose the match and as you must have guessed, and there were no lions either.

The India barefoot story?

India qualified for the 1950 FIFA world cup as a result of the withdrawal of their scheduled opponents. But the Indian football governing body, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) decided against going to the world cup, being unable to understand the importance of the event at that time.

Some of the Reasons shown by the AIFF included the cost of travel, lack of practice time, team selection issued and valuing the Olympics over the FIFA World cup. It should be noted that FIFA agreed to bear a major part of the travel expenses, but it did not really help their decision making.

Was India Banned For Refusing To Play Barefoot?


The 1948 London Olympics was India’s first major international tournament, where a predominantly barefoot Indian team lost 2 -1 to France.

Following the 1948 Olympics FIFA imposed a rule banning barefoot play.

The belief that the Indian team refused to play because they were not allowed to play barefoot is not entirely true according to the then team captain who said it was just a story to cover the disastrous decision of the AFIF.

After the 1950 fiasco, India has never come close to qualifying for the World Cup.

The reason you do not see India in World Cup competitions is because they do not qualify

So Does The Indian Team Wear Soccer Boots?


In the 1952 Olympics, the Indian team lost 10 – 1 to Yugoslavia (talking about taking a beating). As a result of this magnanimous defeat the AIFF made it compulsory for its team members to wear boots

Is it Possible to win a match with a 99 – 1 match margin?


It is absolutely possible to rake 99 – 1 from a single football match. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and see how this is even possible. Now allow us to digress.

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