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    India 99-1 Ghana: The complete story of the mythical 1963 epic match

    Many Ghanaian men and women and kids who were born in the 70s, 80s,
    early 90s, and even later years have most certainly heard of the
    legendary international football game between India and Ghana where
    the Indians beat their African opponents by 99 goals to one.
    It is said that the Indians scored from almost every position on the
    pitch; yet, at the end of the match, the Ghanaians were awarded the
    trophy after having suffered such an embarrassing defeat. But why
    would the Black Stars instead be awarded the trophy if the Blue Tigers
    were the ones who won the match in terms of scoreline? Furthermore,
    who really is the hero who scored the only goal for the shivering West
    Africans on that cold night in Mumbai—was it Baba Yara or Wilberforce
    Mfum?

    Seeing that many discrepant stories surround this awe-inspiring
    sporting event that the Ghanaian folk cherish so much (Nigerians have
    made several unsuccessful attempts to steal the story), the author
    resolved to trace all things from the start with accuracy.
    In doing so, he determined not to leave any stone unturned but present
    all the facts so that all may know the certainty of the things that
    they have only been informed orally.
    The research was thorough so this compilation deserves full credence.
    But before you continue, Mr. and Mrs. Curious Kurt, do keep this John
    F. Kennedy quote in mind: "The great enemy of truth is very often not
    the lie . . . but the myth—persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic."
    Now hop aboard the coaster wagon and let's roll. Yee-ha!

    The invitation—How there came to be such match

    In December 1962, after China had indisputably defeated India in the
    Sino-Indian War, six nations met in Sri Lanka to discuss how to
    permanently resolve the lingering resentment between the two nations.
    Among the attendees was Ghana. Those who met, however, failed to
    univocally condemn the wrong deeds of China. This enraged Jawaharlal
    Nehru, the then prime minister of India, very much.
    After the conference, he called aside Kwame Nkrumah and made known to
    him what Mao Zedong, the then governor of the People's Republic of
    China, had said: "The way to world conquest lies through Havana,
    Accra, and Calcutta." This made Nkrumah grow fearful and so decided to
    seek alliances for protection although Chairman Mao had himself
    pronounced peace with Ghana.
    Soon after Nkrumah arrived in his home country, he received a letter
    from Nehru compelling him to publicly decry the actions of Mao. Doctor
    Nkrumah, a man whose dream was to establish peace and cordial
    relationship among all nations, responded with kind and friendly words
    but firmly and plainly refused to grant the prime minister's request.
    Nehru got angry. But considering that he had just lost over 3,000
    soldiers in the Sino war, he was unwilling to wage war against Ghana
    also.
    So in an attempt to take revenge on the country, he sent a second
    letter, this time, proposing peace between India and Ghana by engaging
    in an international football friendly match.
    Three days later, in February 1963, an Indian delegate arrived in
    Accra and were right away taken to the office of the President. There
    they revealed a written proposal that Nkrumah must sign to officially
    accept the match.
    The President informed the Director of Sports, Ohene Djan, about the
    proposal but the director suggested that the proposal be declined
    since the team would be too busy in preparation for the 1963 Cup of
    Nations.
    One Indian official then said that even if Ghana should score a single
    goal, they would be declared winners. This statement got Nkrumah
    suspicious so he asked to be excused. But before he left, the Indians
    threatened of famine should he fail to sign.
    The President hurried off to see Kankan Nyame (a goddess that he had
    imported from Guinea about a decade prior) to inquire about the
    matter. She decreed that Ghana accepts the agreement.
    But that was not all. The female deity also asserted that if Nkrumah
    fails to put his signature on paper by 12 o'clock noon that day, a
    great famine would strike the whole country. Nkrumah became very upset
    about this prediction so he ran back to where the Indian envoys were
    waiting.
    When he got there and looked at the golden wall clock that he had
    received as a gift from Egypt, the time was already past noon—at 12:01
    PM. That is why there was famine in Ghana exactly 20 years later in
    1983 just as the Indians had threatened.[2] The friendly was then
    scheduled for February 29.

    The matchday—From the 1st to the 90th minute

    Finally, the day arrived for the match. The Mumbai stadium was packed
    to capacity with no space left even for the tiniest ant in the world
    to stand. It is said that even some Indians were sitting on top of
    their fellow countrymen's heads. Clearly, then, the fans were very
    much geared up for the match.
    However, no cameras were allowed to operate inside the stadium. In
    fact, those who were able to sneak in their cameras realized that they
    failed to work when directed toward the pitch, but when you turn the
    lens away from the field, then images could be captured. This made it
    impossible for anyone to capture the match. That is why there is no
    footage of the match anywhere.
    When the Ghanaians got onto the field of play, they realized that the
    Indian players were no where to be found.[3] So Team Manager Kwabena
    Hagan went to the match commissioner to ask of where their opponents
    could be.
    The commissioner directed him to the referee on the pitch. When he got
    there—before he could say a word—the referee gave a sinister kinda
    smile which discombobulated all those who saw it.
    (The referee was one-eyed.) Then while everyone was looking on, he
    brought out of his hip (back) pocket a very small Guinness bottle and
    placed it at the center circle.
    Then, to the greatest stupefaction of the Ghanaian players and
    officials but the admiration of all the Indians, look! here the Indian
    players were coming out of that small Guinness bottle one by one.
    The Stars lost the pre-game coin toss so they were accordingly awarded
    kick-off. But when the ball was placed at the center spot, it all of a
    sudden became so heavy that none of the Ghanaian players was able to
    move the ball.
    The referee therefore decided that the Indians should rather go first.
    So the Indian team captain came and stood by the ball. Immediately the
    referee whistled, he kicked the ball straight to the Ghanaian goal.
    However, the Ghanaian keeper was then lacing his "kambou" so that he
    did not see the ball; and it entered the goal. Thus the Indians went
    up one goal to nil the very first second of the match, in the first
    minute, in the first half. What a first goal!
    The ball was placed at the center of the pitch once again. This time
    around, the ball did not become heavy so the Ghanaians were able to
    kick it. Because they were a lot more skillful than the Indians, the
    Ghanaians quickly dribbled their opponents and soon they had reached
    the inside of the penalty box.
    But when Baba Yara raised up his head, the goalkeeper had turned into
    a "kaakaamotobi." As if that was not enough, the goal (that is, the
    physical structure made up of the goal posts, crossbar, and net) had
    also vanished.
    Undeterred, he decided to kick the ball anyway, not fearing any
    possible hostile consequence, but look! it had turned into a
    "dadesen"! Upon seeing all of this, fear gripped him so much that he
    fainted and gave away possession.
    But as soon as the Indians took possession, the ball returned to its
    normal state. Then their captain again hit a long shot toward the
    Ghanaian goal. This time Ali Jarrah was alert and he was ready to make
    an easy catch.
    However, when the ball got close to him, it split into several other
    balls so that he was confused as to which one of the balls to catch.
    Worse still, each of the balls had a blazing flame of fire around it
    as they were all rushing furiously from different angles towards the
    goal.
    Yet resolute, when he attempted to catch one of the many fiery balls,
    it turned out that instead one among those that he had ignored was the
    "real" ball so it entered the net. All of this happened but no
    one—except the goalkeeper—saw it. Thus the Blue Tigers scored their
    second goal.
    That is what continued to take place. Every time the Ghanaians had an
    opportunity to take a shot at goal, the Indian goalkeeper would turn
    into a "kaakaamotobi," the Indian goal would disappear, and the ball
    would transmogrify into a large and heavy "dadesen" so that they were
    not able to kick it. However, immediately the Indians had possession,
    the ball would return to its normal state so that they were able to
    play.
    Moreover, whenever the Indians would make any of their long, powerful
    shots toward the Ghanaian goal (which they did 99 times throughout the
    match), the ball would split into many other fiery balls, or sometimes
    metamorphose into a fearful lion, so that Ali Jarrah would run away
    from between the posts and the ball would land into the unguarded
    goal.

    When the 90th minute arrived, the Indians were leading 99 goals to
    nil. Then out of the blue Ghana won a penalty. What?! The players had
    resolved not to interfere with this Indian business but then someone
    had to definitely take the penalty. Wilberforce Mfum elected himself
    to do so despite the ball having transfigured into a very large Homowo
    "dadesen" for all to see.
    So swinging back his long right limb, Mfum hit the ball with all his
    might regardless of the possible fatal consequence. The Indians were
    astonished that such bravery could be displayed by the Asante Kotoko
    striker.
    Because of the force with which the "dadesen" ball was kicked, it
    swiftly passed the "kaakaamotobi" goalkeeper and the goal became
    visible again just before the "dadesen" reached the goal line.

    Goooaaal!

    Ghana had scored the winning goal! To top that up, because of the
    magnitude of the "dadesen" combined with the speed with which it was
    traveling, the goal net was completely torn apart.
    Thus the Ghanaian folk came to have the popular Akan saying, "Mfum
    atete net," which means, "Mfum has torn apart [the] net." What a grand
    victory this was for the African continent!

    The aftermath—What happened to those heroes

    Baba Yara, as a result of his heroic display on that night in the
    Indian capital, signed a contract with Nestlé Ghana Limited upon the
    Stars arrival in the country.
    The complete terms of the contract are largely unknown but part of it
    stipulated that Baba Yara's photo be featured on all Milo "nkyensee"
    (or "konko," which translates to, "can" or "tin") that are yet to be
    merchandised. Nonetheless, as soon as those "Baba Yara Milo" appeared
    on the market, sales figures sharply dropped for the food producing
    company.
    The reason for this perplexing development is not entirely known but
    what is known is this: Baba Yara became the first footballer to be
    featured on Milo "nkyensee." Nestlé, however, would later annul the
    contract and take Baba's smiling face off the product.

    Wilberforce Kwadwo Mfum, on his part, had a different fate—he became
    enviously successful, as it were, in his football career. The lord of
    the night became the first Ghanaian player to score at the African
    Nations Cup tournament when he opened the score in the 9th minute
    against Tunisia in the 1963 edition of the competition.
    Soon, Mfum crossed the Atlantic Ocean to play for Baltimore Bays in
    Maryland, USA. He would later also play for Ukrainian SC, Ukrainian
    Nationals, and New York Cosmos.
    However, in December 2013, 77-year-old Mfum expressed grief over
    unpaid bonuses that Nkrumah promised them if they won the trophy for
    the match. He was quoted as follows:
    I have done my part for the nation and my reward has become a big
    problem. We were all promised to be rewarded after we won the trophy
    but that has never happened till date. Sometimes I wish I wasn't even
    Ghanaian.
    Our reward was just about GH50,000 which could have built me a chamber
    and hall self contained but here I am now without anything from all
    the sacrifices I made for mother Ghana and it has really made me sad
    just like my other colleagues.

    Okay, what about the Indians? Well, because of the gross cheating
    mechanism that they employed, they were shortly summoned before the
    judicial committee of FIFA to defend several allegations of
    wrongdoing.
    After investigating the matter, the football governing body banned
    them for life from all football activities.
    However, after serving the ban for some years, the restriction was
    revoked and their eligibility to participate in international football
    was restored; but on condition that they would swear under oath never
    to play with juju again.
    That is why India have never participated at the World Cup before;
    without juju they cannot progress from the qualifiers.

    Despite having considered the details of the account above, there are
    yet some pressing questions left unanswered. A few among such are the
    following: Ali Jarrah was a member of the Black Starlets squad that
    claimed silver medals at the FIFA U-17 tournament in Japan '93, so how
    is it that he was the goalkeeper of the senior national team 30 years
    prior? Also, this historic event is said to have occurred on February
    29, 1963.
    However, it is puzzling as to which calendar system this date is based
    on, since the widely used Gregorian calendar does not have February 29
    in the non-leap year 1963.
    Could it be that it was based on the Nkrumah Calendar? Anyway, let us
    not think more of this folktale than it is necessary; for happy, they
    say, are those who have not seen and yet believe.

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