Oct 19, 2022 | Sports | 0 comments

Written By Fakunle Sheriff Ekundayo

AJEGUNLE MOCK NATIONS CUP 1992: THE 89TH MINUTES WONDER FREE KICK BY TAOFEEK MALEEK’S KENYA THAT BROKE THE HEART OF JOSEPH DOSU’S IVORIANS

PLUS: THE CELESTIAL ETHIOPIAN VOODOO AND NOISY ALAYABIAGBA’S COTE D’IVOIRE FANFARE

By Fakunle Sheriff Ekundayo

Ajegunle is known for entertainment and sports globally. The likes of former Super-Eagles striker and coach, Samson Siasia, Jonathan Akpoborie, Tarila Okorowanta, Peter Nieketen, Ikpe Ekong, Monday James, and Omoefe among the rest, are some of the shiny examples of exceptional football players who made the beautiful game a pleasure to watch in the mini-Nigeria called Ajegunle.

The evolution of Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup began with the visionary leadership of Ebere Tex Daniel, Lawrence Ebi Alabra and a few others. They were inspired by the victory of the then Green Eagles of Nigeria victory in Lagos, during the 1980 African Nations Cup. Also, the exploits of Tarila Okorowanta at the Under 20 FIFA World Cup tournament, and the footballing exploits of Ajegunle players at the Gothia Cup, held in Sweden.

FROM THE BEGINNING

The Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup started with four teams in 1982, namely; Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia. These comprise of football players from the Ugbewankwo axis and Navy Barracks here in Ajegunle.

Ghana won the maiden edition of the tournament in 1982.

Ethiopia remains the most successful country to have lifted the Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup.

FOLLOWING THE LEAD….

Recalling with fond nostalgia, Ajegunle ace commentator, Godwin Akpan Udofia, said Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup is traditionally held within the months of October, November and December of every year, and the event was usually a masterpiece that pulls a crowd. “Fans are usually encouraged to arrive early, or else may not have the opportunity to view the match because of the crowded nature the event is blessed with,” he added.

The teams that generated suspense on match days because of their rivalry in Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup were Ethiopia and Cameroon. Some of the notable players fielded for Ethiopia then were Ajide, Akpoborie, Benjamin James, Tony Idonwa, Tunde Adekoya, and Timiye James, among several others.

For Cameroonians, they were legendary for bringing up players from the Green Eagles camp {national team of Nigeria},  and notably amongst these soccer stars were: Henry Nwosu, Willie Okpara, S.K Tama, late Godwin Osuore, Godwin Osusu, Felix Amata {Jay kay}, among others.

Cameroon and Ethiopia were teams credited as crowd pullers in Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup. The others were Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.

For the Ivorian team that gained its propriety rights for the Mock Nations Cup in Alayabiagba, was notorious for violent acts; especially whether they win or lose, a situation which got the team blacklisted from the annual fiesta in Ajegunle over a period of years.

1990: HOW ALAYABIAGBA’S IVORIAN TEAM FADED WITH LOCAL FUJI SENSATION, JABELE

Despite the sudden rise of the Alayabiagba Ivorian team into the ranks of Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup powerhouse, many didn’t consider them a healthy team to compete with. The reasons some people gave may not be unconnected to their violent tendencies, on and off the pitch by their teeming fans.

The 1990 edition of the tournament, saw the team from the ancient town of Alayabiagba in Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government, reached the final of the competition and was halted by perennial finalist, Ethiopia.

The final match had produced a spectacle of some such, with the restive fan base from Alayabiagba, turning the arena into a carnival in their glowing ecstasy. And much to the delight of all in attendance was the live performance by local fuji hero, Jabele.

The fans serenaded memorable and popular lyrics from his brand of music, but in the end, just like the deadbeat leading towards the end of a music show, Alayabiagba’s Ivory Coast lost to Ethiopia, and left a hole from the heartbreak they bequeathed their fans on that evening!

ANGOLA ALL STARS OF 1993

LUKE OYEMEKE, FINANCIER OF ANGOLA IN 1993, PIONEERED FOOTBALL PLAYERS SWITCHING FROM ONE COUNTRY TO THE OTHER BECAUSE HE PAID HIS PLAYERS HANDSOMELY…He would give them sign-on fees, camp the players, feed them appropriately…Some of the players who played for Angola then were Duke Udi, Alabra, Timi Okponya, Christopher Azibo, Christopher Osahon, Aduku Moses, Charles Agbaga, and Emmanuel Amunike. However, Angola lost in the final to Cameroon.

They had only one chance. They had all the glamour, but lost the final to Cameroon by a lone margin through a penalty spot scored by the late Lucky Esuere, when the Angolan captain, pulled the ball with his hands in the penalty box

FABLES: THE VOODOO IN AJEGUNLE MOCK NATIONS CUP

The Ethiopia team was credited with white apparel. They were often considered as the team with celestial powers, hence dubbed ‘Cele magic’.

In 1993, Ethiopia had a traditional jersey of white shirt and white shorts, because they go and worship in a celestial church before every match. And in order to demystify Ethiopia voodoos, you must score them first and will lose the match subsequently. Once an opposing team justified this myth; they came into the field first, and decked in white jerseys. This forced the Ethiopian team to change to another colour of jersey, which paved way for their weakness and defeat.

Cameroon was able to score through David Alabra and have Ethiopia defeated.

According to Akpan Udofia, Cameroon’s voodoo happened at 7, Navy Road, and was orchestrated by one of their late supporters, who would prepare candle sticks and water in a basin. The candles must keep burning throughout the match. In order to break Cameroun’s power, it was reported that a certain supporter of their opponent traced the house where the candles were burning in the basin and quenched it. Immediately Cameroon conceded a penalty and they lost afterwards.

The exploits in Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup made some of the national team coaches such as Clemence Westerhoff and the late Amodu Shuabu scout for brighter footballers who are prospects for the success of the national team.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS IN AJEGUNLE MOCK NATIONS CUP

THE 1992 FINALS

KENYA Vs. COTE D’IVOIRE

In 1991, the skilful Taofeek Maleek of the famous Stationery Stores played for Alayabiagba’s Cote D’Ivore, but in 1992, he switched allegiance and played for Kenya instead, and made the difference. Atlanta 96 Olympic gold medal, Joseph Dosu was in goal. The Kenyans’ were regarded as giant killers…they were comprised of relatively unknown players but were led by a Captain fantastic; Doye {Captain Dogor}. Then it was believed that Kenya, Senegal and Uganda were offshoots of Ethiopia in the Mock Nations Cup. They were made up of players from Queens Park axis in Oregie. And during the final match in 1992, at the 89th minute, it was still goalless. Before then, Kenya had defeated Angola in the semi-final, with a free kick in the 87th minute. And when another free kick beckons in the 89th minute of the final match, Taofeek Maleek rose to the occasion, his deft left footer shot found the top corner of the goal post and beat Joseph Dosu in the process. Déjà vu! The crowd went frenzy, unable to curtail their ecstasy at this magic moment of soccer splendour. That was how Kenya became one of the unknown teams to win the Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup.

 1997 FINAL:  ETHIOPIA vs UGANDA

Ethiopia’s team was filled to the brim with star-studded players, such as Benjamin James, Akpoborie, the man with a long throw-in; Sylvester Ebiale from Julius Berger, Timiye James among many other soccer stars. They were to meet a bunch of young and skilful players in the final. The Uganda team comprises Otuotu Philips, Omoefe, Okon Asuquo, and Joel Akahkem, and they were captained by a man called Emmanuel Okafor nicknamed ‘Stylish’. He was then in the senior team of Ethiopia but decided to switch and led a team of vibrant, hungry and skilful young players against the old guards. In the end, Ethiopia was whitewashed, as the match ended 5-2 in favour of Uganda, with Omoefe and Emmanuel Okafor {stylish}, scoring the goals.

The young TOGO TEAM dubbed the catch them young. The team was assembled by the late Ben. Then there was Zambia which had players like Ikpe Ekong, Chichi and Wowo who were part of the golden generations of Ajeromi-Ifelodun Senior High School {Sinclair}, coached by Pa. Idewu of blessed memories.

FATAI AZEEZ {A’JERAN } OF GUINEA

The Guinea team at the Mock Nations Cup in Ajegunle consist of Fatai Azeez {A’jeran}, Atah, Wilson David, Emmanuel Okpolo, Amaechi, and Nuel Francis, among others. They are players from Ba’ale Aiyetoro Street, Bolaji Street and Kehinde Street.

Fatai Azeez whose maternal lineage is from the Fakunle Chieftaincy family was described as the most loyal player and captain of the team. He was dreaded in the final third of play and was considered as a ‘No-Nonsense’ Centre half. His moniker; ‘A’jeran’, became imminent because players feared going into close collision with him, especially when he missed the ball, he will definitely not miss the legs!

Guinea’s best achievement at the Mock African Nations Cup was Quarter-Final. Guinea was a team with players that did not have sponsors. They sponsored themselves and played for the passion of the game.

The Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup comprises teams classified into different categories, namely; ‘The Money Bags’, ‘The Crowd Pullers’, and ‘The Sacrificing Teams’.

THE AGBOJU TEAM AND KIRIKIRI TOWN

Team Mauritania was largely made up of players from Kirikiri axis. They were Alex and co. They took the nation’s cup by storm and played in the finals in 2012, and the centre referee was Akpan Udofia.

The 2012 Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup afforded the man called Petrolog; Mr Anayo, who sponsored Tunisia, paid his players in dollars, but they lost in the semi-finals to Mauritania. It was the year club referees were used for a final match and it went successfully.

The Mauritanian team comprises players that were not particularly fantastic individually, but their close knits, team play and bond on the field of play were the differences that made them successful. In the final, Mauritania had good team management, good support from their fan base and excellent work ethics, when they squared up against the home team Burundi {Bello Boys} of Navy Barracks.  The match ended in a penalty shootout after Mauritania was red-carded, but they won eventually.

THE BEAUTIFUL RECORD OF TEAM NAMIBIA IN 1998

HOW PETER OBIBI AND CO KEPT THE MEMORIES OF SAM ALIVE

The Namibian team did not concede any goal throughout the competition until the final match, and they only lost by penalty shoot-outs. The Namibian team was known as Niger Boys from Brambaifia Street, Tunkarimu Street and Okorogbo Street. At a point in their personal growth, every member of the team went their separate ways. But after the death of one of the team members; Sam, they decided to come together and play at the Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup in honour of their late teammate. They assembled and play as Namibia. The likes of Peter Obibi, Timi Okponyen, Peter Apekhi, Godwin Obienu, Oshof, Teslim and Oyelakin among others. They went 9 matches without conceding a goal until the final match where they lost via a penalty shootout.

COTE D’IVORE AXIS is Alayabiagba. They do not really have players, but they go out and bring players from Stationery Stores and NEPA FC among others, and often go as far as Ibadan to bring players from Shooting Stars. Their notorious chants of ‘Gbele gba’ were famous and incitingly violent in the heat of the game among rampaging fans.

L’ENFANT TERRIBLE ALAYABIAGBA COTE D’IVOIRE – If the team wins, you fight, they draw, you fight and they lose, you fight. This led to the management of the Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup banning the team Cote D’Ivore from the tournament. They were the only team that was banned indefinitely. In 1991, when they lost the final, the fans went as far as destroying properties inside the Navy Barracks. The centre referee, a naval officer who died in active service; WSO Whyte, who used to live in Block F, while towards the end of the match, went close to the touchline before blowing the final whistle to end the match, he subsequently ran away from there and escaped to his flat for the fear of being attacked by Alayabiagba fans of Cote D’Ivore.

MANAGEMENT TEAM OF ALAYABIAGBA COTE D’IVOIRE INCLUDES Late Afolabi Kenku, {A naval officer who died in active service}, Owolabi Baba Yellow, Taiye Ojora, the younger brother to the current Ba’ale of Alayabiagba, Ba’ale Adeshina Ojora. Their means of funding Cote D’Ivore as a team were through individual donations and mandatory contributions among the leaders.

DEARTH OF AJEGUNLE MOCK NATIONS CUP

  • The passion is no more, as in-fighting among organisers continued to persist.
  • Selfishness
  • The withdrawal of Mr Daniel Alabra from active administrative involvement in the tournament
  • The inability of the management to take advantage of the change in name from Apapa Youth Football Association to Ajegunle Youth Football Association, and which was led by High Chief Isaac,  Ashimi, Lucky, coach Tiri Bright.
  • Ineffective planning and management skills. The Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup was usually commencing plans for the fiesta from June and July in a year with sales of forms, and by August to September, names of participating teams will have been released. And by October of the same year, the Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup will have commenced, and with the finals, waiting to be held on the 24th, 28th or 29th of December annually.
  • The finals of Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup were played only once in January and March 2nd 1999 when Namibia played Cote D’Ivore in the finals, due to some unforeseen circumstances, and Cote D’Ivore won after a penalty shoot-out.
  • Lack of credible sponsors early in the year in order to pave way for proper planning.
  • High Chief Isaac Asiawe, Lucky Abiamowe, Ashimi, and coach Tiri Bright led the committee must move to revive the glory of the Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup.
  • The influx of European football leagues through digital satellite viewing has contributed drastically to less interest in live football matches in communities, especially at weekends.

THE GOVERNOR RAJI FASHOLA INVOLVEMENT IN AJEGUNLE MOCK NATIONS CUP

The coveted cash prize for the winner of Ajegunle Mock Nations Cup was increased to N1million, during the administration of Lagos State Governor; Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola {SAN}, in 2007. And the first team to win the prize was an Ajegunle team; Morocco.

The emergence of Don Kefe in 2000, added glitz and glamour to the Ajegunle Mock Nations cup as a sports administrator, also Money Love, Ebiegbe Mitchels was a strong supporter of the Nigeria Mock Nations Cup team; he would carry the flag round the field in appreciation and passion for the Nigerian team at the soccer fiesta. Today he is a multi-millionaire with a professional expatriate in the construction of astroturf pitches across Nigeria.

Speaking with one of the finest sports aficionados and sports commentators in Ajegunle, Mr Godwin Akpan Udofia, he asserted that football in Ajegunle is made what it is today by personalities who sacrificed their time and passion for it. These eminent personalities such as the Late Coach Oris, High Chief Isaac Siawey, Anthony Ekator, Apians, the Late Tony Ekeh who was former Secretary General of Youth Sports Association of Nigeria {YSFON}, and Benjamin Ekpo among many others.

Jonathan and Richard Akpoborie, Chris Okahan, Robbinson and others were some of the key Ajegunle players that played at YSFON tournament through the late Tony Eke.

CULLED FROM THE BOOK: HISTORICAL EVENTS IN AJEROMI-IFELODUN LOCAL GOVERNMENT BY FAKUNLE SHERIFF EKUNDAYO

Written By Fakunle Sheriff Ekundayo

Fakunle Sheriff Ekundayo is the editor at Project 3:16 Metro, an online news platform for rural and urban areas. He is also the Principal Partner and Editor-in-Chief at Project 3:16 Metro Newspaper. His youth advocacy and academic drive have made him discover the need to bridge the gap between youths, communities, and government institutions through his journal; Project 3:16 Metro. This he has also modified with the company’s website page, www.metro316.com.ng.

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