Revisiting Morocco 1988 And The Famous 10-10 Game Between Nigeria And Algeria [Videos]
The Super Eagles have participated in many Africa Cup of Nations but that of 1988 in Morocco was unique for many reasons. It had excitement, the thrill of victory and the agony all peppered with a healthy dose of controversy. Apart from being one of the most competitive in the history of the biennial competition, it left Nigerians fuming just as they would 12 years later in Lagos.
In any case in the semi-final against Algeria, the Green Eagles faced not just a tough Algerian team but 35,000 rabid and mostly Arab fans. It was a tough game that saw the Algerians score both goals through Belgharbi in the 36' (o.g.) and Mataar in 86'. The 1-1 draw was finally decided 9-8 from the penalty spot in favour of Nigeria when Rufai caught the last Algerian effort.
But the drama had started way before then.
Shockingly Ademola Adesina was controversially sent off by Ref Badara Sene from Senegal
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. Years later he would say:
“I was wrongly given a red card by the centre referee because I was not the person that erred. As soon as I was shown the red, I knew I will be missing the final but considering the vacuum my absence was going to cause the team, I began to doubt if we could beat Algeria with a man down."
Enter Bright Omokaro who took matters into his own hands and single-handed reduced the Desert Foxes to ten men as he uprooted an Algerian forward and knocked him out of the game. Since they had already substituted twice before the incident they were forced to play on with ten and each team now had the equal number of players again.
The move would earn Omokaro the nickname 10-10 in Nigeria. In any case, Nigeria survived that day at the Stade Moulay Abdellah by sheer will, grit and determination.
But, there would more controversy because in the subsequent end game against Cameroon four days later controversy would rear its ugly head again, not once but twice. First, there was the suspect penalty awarded to the Indomitable Lions by the Mauritanian Ref Idrissa Sarr and then was his incomprehensible nullification of Henry Nwosu’s goal which allowed the central Africans to win the second continental crown. To tell Nwosu sorry Caf would name him to the all Tournament team. But that is a story for another day.
However, there was no doubt that Morocco 1988 had a little of everything including hideous refereeing.