Sunday, March 7, 2021
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WHEN NIGERIA’S FOOTBALL TEAMS PLAYED WITHOUT SOCCER BOOTS One of the areas in which Nigeria has gained global recognition is football; aka Soccer. Nigeria actually shot into limelight on the soccer pitches through scintillating performances on the soccer pitches in the 1970s and 1980s, when the nation gained international reputation as a major force to be reckoned with in soccer.  From its first outing abroad in 1949, Nigeria’s national team got stronger recognition globally as one of the leading nations in soccer as then rated by FIFA in the 70s and 80s. The nation’s prowess is such that Nigeria have reached the finals of the FIFA World Cup five times, with the first feat recorded in 1994. On that tournament, Nigeria reached the second round. The next and sixth appearance, will be made this year at the finals in the 2018 FIFA World Cup slated to hold in Russia. Who are the pioneers? Nigeria first played its first match outside the country in 1949 when the Nigeria UK Tourists team played by ordinary feet. They made history by emerging first West African team to play matches abroad. It is interesting to note that the Nigerian players wore no soccer boots. Before that memorable outing, the bunch of the then promising players had featured in a number of matches against various local and regional teams, including the Ghanaian national team. The 1949 tour, is recorded to have changed the perception of Africans, as they performed excellently before the British public.  The “UK Tourists”, as they were branded, comprised 18 players picked from the best Nigerian teams by the Nigerian Football Association. In all, they had nine outings against English amateur and league clubs for five weeks.  The Nigerian team won their first match against Marine Crosby 5-2 at Liverpool. 7,000 spectators were recorded at that match. But they lost the remaining eight (8) matches. WHY THEY PLAYED WITHOUT SOCCER BOOTS As recorded by ‘The Manchester Guardian’, ‘’The players selected were largely representative of colonial society. Fourteen of the eighteen players were civil servants, and another two were teachers, while the team’s player/secretary, Kanno had been educated in England and had thus, it was deemed, ‘acquired the refinements necessary for the public engagements.   ‘’Significantly, even though the British administrators wanted the Nigerians to wear boots, the Nigerian players insisted on not wearing them and so the decision to play barefooted could also…

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