My Take

Little hope of kicking out match-fixing in Nigerian soccer leagues

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 July, 2013, 3:09am

That must have been one hell of a pep talk that Nigerian amateur soccer team Police Machine got at half time against Babayaro. They did not do too badly in the first half, scoring eight goals. Any team would have been satisfied with that. Not these policemen. After the break, they came out fully charged and made history, slamming in 59 more goals.

The manager and team would have been patting themselves on the back. The result should have put them ahead of Plateau United Feeders and earned promotion to Nigeria's professional league.

They, however, did not realise what a wily team management Plateau had in another match. They had an even more inspiring break and came out to add 72 goals to beat Akuba 79-0.

Both matches were played at the same time, supposedly to avoid match-fixing.

This is one match anyone would have loved to watch, at least on tape - just to see how these teams actually managed this score. One goal every 40 seconds or so.

In a normal match, a goal is followed by the prancing around of the scorer and his teammates, and it usually takes at least one or two minutes to get the ball back to the centre circle for the kick-off.

Nah, these teams did not believe in such time wasting.

But even if the second half of the play was just kicking the ball into the net and then heading back to the centre repeatedly, their time-management skills should have been worthy of an award.

These, almost superhuman, results led a local journalist to check with the authorities, who met to consider whether all the goals were scored with the feet.

Even using hands as well, it would be a bit tricky to get the ball into the net and back to the centre this many times in just 45 minutes.

The officials promptly suspended all four teams, players and officials involved. An outraged reader wrote on a local newspaper website that if anyone was present in the stands and did not stop the match, they should be banned too.

A local official said: "We will investigate this matter thoroughly and get to the bottom of it."

Well, this is the rock bottom, really. And as Nigeria is an oil-producing country, this official, if he keeps digging, has more chance of striking oil than stopping the match-fixing in the local leagues.


Alex Lo is on leave