Super Eagles of Nigeria will trade tackles with the Black Stars of Ghana on Tuesday in the most talked-about game of the World Cup Qualifiers in Africa.
Nigeria had secured a 0-0 draw at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi and still have everything to play for at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, the seat of the Nigerian government.
Duels between Nigeria and Ghana are as fierce as their support for each other. While social media may paint endless rivalry between both nations, there’s great chemistry and mutual respect in many aspects between both West African giants.
Historically, Nigeria and Ghana have had it topsy-turvy. Different times have brought different situations, dealt with in sometimes unpalatable manner. In spite of this rather tensed history, there’s calm when both nations come together.
In 2021, Ghanaian music star, Shatta Wale went on a tirade to attack Nigerians for not supporting their music. It coincided with arguably the greatest growth ever enjoyed by Afrobeats, powered by Nigerians with some Ghanaians also playing important roles in the ascent. Both nations have West Africa on lockdown in many aspects of their national lives.
Shatta Wale’s outbursts were met by fierce criticisms by one of Nigeria’s modern musical iconoclasts, Burna Boy. Their ultras clashed and led to banter by both nations on the social media, where the majority of the adversity, if any between both nations, exists. When Nigerians meet Ghanaians physically, it’s all love.
Of Independence and interdependence
Ghana gained independence from Britain in 1957, the first in Sub-Saharan Africa to have done that. This feat powered by Kwame Nkrumah and other Ghanaian nationalists encouraged Nigerians to also fight for theirs.
More than three years after Ghana got their freedom, Nigeria followed suit. Both nations have had good, bad and ugly days ever since.
Different diplomatic kerfuffle have tested their friendship and brotherhood but their unity has prevailed through these challenges.
Ghana is one of the largest producers of cocoa in the world, and has one of the biggest gold deposits in Africa. Its riches, however have not been as impactful.
Both nations have been interdependent in their independence. While their fortunes are similar, their situations also mirror each other in many areas except the provision of power and the consistency their democracy has enjoyed.
Two richly-blessed nations in human and natural resources, Nigeria’s diversity is much greater and its size and population totally dominating but their inherent challenges are just as many.
How Fuel and High Cost of Living is Fuelling Nigerians, Ghanaians’ Rage
Fuel costs have increased in Ghana, to the chagrin of the populace. They’re angry and some months ago, there were protests over the state of of the nation.
Ghana President, Nana Akufo-Addo divides opinions in the country, but the struggling economy, high cost of living, inflation and increase in fuel prices are just similar to the ever-rising rage in Nigeria.
In Africa’s biggest nation, there are millions of jobless youths. The poor standard of living has hit new peaks and the worsening state of the nation has hit new nadirs. Maybe Nigeria has it slightly worse than Ghana. Its massive population and thinning, poorly-utilised resources aren’t making living in Nigeria any easy.
And where both nations’ nationals find succour, and governments seem to paper over cracks momentarily, both nations share an agelong rivalry. That’s football.
Nigeria vs Ghana: 72 Years of Intense Rivalry
When Nigeria drew Ghana at the World Cup Qualifiers, FIFA and CAF knew they had a game on their hands. Games between both nations are as fierce as they come anywhere in the world.
Think of Argentina-Brazil, US-Mexico, Germany-England and many other national football rivalries; this is where matches between Nigeria and Ghana belong.
Their rivalry is laced by history and garners strength in the quality of the product of their displays.
Both nations met the 50th time on Friday and in a sold-out crowd in Kumasi, the most economically rewarding in Ghanaian football history, according to Ghana’s National Sports Authority. Nigeria forced Ghana to a draw in the game.
A draw best represented the equality of both nations’ current predicaments.
Although Ghana bowed out from the 2021 AFCON at the group stage and in an embarrassing fashion, Nigeria only flattered to deceive. The inglorious exit to Tunisia will only be healed by a victory against Ghana.
For Ghanaians, a win over Nigeria will soothe all the pains from Cameroon, and it will in a pleasurable fashion.
The West African derby pits brothers against each other; it pits friends against each other; and it will for more than ninety minutes keep both nations at each other’s jugular. It’s their greatest divide, yet unites them the best when they aren’t at each other’s faces.
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