Historians say football does repeat itself and this seems to hold good.
The upcoming World Cup qualifier between Ghana and Nigeria seems to have a lot of similarities to the last time the two sides met in 2001 for the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup.
The Black Stars, at the time, were so ill-prepared that coach Jones Attiquayefio had to field a virtual Accra Hearts of Oak side against Nigeria.
Surprisingly, the match ended in a scintillating goalless draw.
The atmosphere was similar to this Kumasi match on Friday where the football public is most unsure of the strength of the Black Stars.
And the FA made things murkier by keeping the Stars squad a guarded secret as if the match was going to be played behind closed doors.
Honestly, I am unable to make any objective analysis of this game and my best will be to wish the team well and to refresh the memory of fans with the history of Ghana -Nigeria matches in World cup qualifiers.
This is the fifth time the two sides are meeting in the World cup qualifiers since 1960 for Chile 62.
Before that let me complete the Jones Attiquayefio Black Stars story of 2001 that after the goalless draw in Accra, the Stars were trounced 3-0 in the second leg in Nigeria.
It was an incident-packed match and Ghana played the entire second half with ten men.
Goalkeeper Osei Boateng had been sacked just after conceding the third goal in the first half for bad conduct. He was placed by utility player Osei Kuffuor of Hearts fame.
Kuffuor did well in keeping a clean sheet.
The Black Stars lineup was James Narnor/Osei Boateng_/Emmanuel Osei Kuffuor, IsaacOwusu, Yaw Owusu, Princeton Owusu Ansah, Hamas Mohammed, Mohammed Gargo, Gordon Ablordey, Charles Taylor/Aminus Musa, Kofi Amoako, Fattal Ahmed and Isaac Boakye.
As I was saying this was the 4th time Ghana and Nigeria were playing in the World Cup series.
The very first time was in 1960 for Chile 62 and Ghana trounced Nigeria 4-1 at Accra Stadium on August 28. The lineup was Addoquaye Laryea, Ben Simmons, Emma Oblitey, Mama Ankrah, Addo Odametey, Alhaji Tanko, Baba Yara, Edward Acquah, Aggrey Fynn, Mohammed Salisu.
The second leg in Lagos was 2-2.
The 1970 World Cup in Mexico saw Ghana meeting again in the qualifiers. Nigeria won the first leg in Lagos 2-1 On May 10, 1969. The return in Accra on May 18 was 1-1.
The Black Stars line up was Robert Mensah, Joe Dakota, Kpakpo Allotey, Sam Amarteifio, John Eshun(capt), Christian Madus, Robert Folley, Jones Attuquayefio, Joe Ghartey, Abeka Ankrah, George Alhassan
The last World Cup qualifier between the two giants was in 1973 for the Germany 1974 festival and it was full of nasty incidents.
The Black Stars stormed Lagos with grim determination and Kwasi Owusu’s strick gave Ghana a dramatic 3-2 victory when the game was heading for a 2-2 draw on Feb 10, 1973.
Kwasi Owusu’s sizzles brought pandemonium on the pitch. Stones and bottles were thrown on the pitch in protest against the jubilation by the Black Stars. Spectators surged and invaded the pitch.
At this point, the Lagos State Military Governor, Col Molaboli Johnson personally led a team of armed soldiers to escort the Black Stars off the pitch. The Nigerian troops had to use teargas to disperse the crowd.
In their fury, the home fans set ablaze a Ghana State Transport bus that had conveyed supporters of the Black Stars to Nigeria. This incident created a big diplomatic row between the then two military governments of the two countries.
The tension-packed return leg in Accra on Feb 25 1973 ended goalless without any nasty incident. Thanks to the vigilance of security people and the sportsmanship of fans.
Gen Bob Hotel was in the thick of affairs and this writer overheard him from the press box shouting at halftime to “stop all movements”
It is hoped no matter the outcome of Friday’s encounter in the Garden City, no such nasty incidents would occur.
Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.