Babatunde Koiki, a Nigerian sports journalist, believes Ghana’s influence on Nigerian football cannot be underestimated.
“You cannot write the history of Nigerian football without devoting an entire chapter to Ghana, it’s that simple,” he mentioned.
Ghana, he claims, has had a significant impact on the development of Nigerian football, from the way the game is played in the country to the players and coaches that have left their stamp.
He provided viewers with a history lesson on Ghana’s immense contribution to Nigerian football on JoyNews’ PM Express Wednesday.
“In the late 60s and the 70s, of course because of the economic reasons in Ghana, 100 of Ghanaian footballers migrated to Nigeria and in doing so they completely changed the way Nigerian football was played.
“Back then it was a kick-and-follow or kick-and-rush style that was prevalent in Nigeria. But when the Ghanaians came they brought this short-passing game, this possession football that was completely alien to Nigerian football, and because of that Nigerian football had to adapt that into Nigerian football and that is why Nigerian football is what it is today,” he said.
Talking about players and coaches he said, “We can talk about the likes of Ghanaians who made Nigerian football. Afro Moses, Joetex Frimpong, Edward Ansah, I’m having goosebumps just mentioning these names.
“What about the Ghanaian coaches who also made their indelible mark in Nigerian football; Silas Tetteh… it’s incredible the kind of history Nigeria and Ghana have and how much Nigeria actually owes Ghana.
“Some of Nigeria’s greatest players were actually born and raised in Ghana. Baba Otu Mohammed, he was born and raised in Kumasi, in fact, Nigeria actually wanted to nationalize Joetex Frimpong to play for Nigeria.
“It was his father that prevailed upon him to change his mind and play for the Black Stars, and I believe that there are actually some Black Stars players who can trace their ancestry back to Nigeria.”
Babatunde mentioned that, the two nations’ close connection is what has spawned the enviable rivalry that has African football in a chokehold.
In view of the worldwide football fraternity’s excitement over the impending derby, he believes the pair will make a significant contribution to establishing African football on the global scene.
On Friday, Ghana and Nigeria will face off at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.