As Nigeria prepare to take on Ghana in their final 2022 World Cup qualifying match, former president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo might be needed to – once again – turn things in the Super Eagles’ favour.
Nigeria’s longest unbeaten streak against Ghana was recorded between 1994 and 2007: most of which was when Obasanjo ruled Nigeria for the second time.
The 85-year-old politician and former military leader first served as Nigeria’s head of state from 1976 to 1979, and later as a democratically elected president from 1999 to 2007.
During his first stint as Nigeria’s head of state, the men’s senior national team – the Super Eagles – recorded two stalemates: a 1-1 draw at Ghana-hosted 1978 African Cup of Nations, and then a goalless draw in a Group B fixture four months later, at the All African Games in 1978.
They were the only two times the Ghana-Nigeria rivalry got ignited between 1976 and 1979.
His second time as head of state saw the Super Eagles play Ghana eight times between August 1999, and January 2006 – all of them ending in either a win or a draw (5W, 3D) for the Super Eagles.
To date, it is the longest Nigeria positive streak have ever recorded over Ghana in this 72-year African football feud.
In fact, of the 26 games Nigeria have played in Ghana, only with Obasanjo in power have the Super Eagles nicked an away win over the Black Stars: in a December 2002 friendly.
Between 1979 – when Obasanjo handed over – and 1999 when he returned to power, Nigeria won just once, drawing two games and losing six times against Ghana.
But while as President, it took Ghana an additional nine games to beat the Super Eagles. They recorded a 4-1 win which came in a friendly, just two months before Nigeria elected a new president in 2007.
Since Obasanjo handed power over in 2007, Nigeria have failed to defeat Ghana to date – losing two times, and drawing once (if the WAFU Nations Cup are being omitted).
With every other thing in order, to face Ghana in a two-legged match ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, Nigeria may still be missing an essential component.
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