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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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