He may be relatively unknown to football followers of the current generation as the name Dejo Fayemi may not easily ring bell to those who are still below the age of 50. 

Yet, he was one of the early generations of super strikers. So good he was that the legendary musician, Ebenezer Obey in one of his evergreen songs of the 1970s mentioned him as an example of good talents in football. 

Pa Fayemi, 83, was reported to have taken an eternal sleep last Friday in Ibadan. He held the record of being the first Nigerian to score in a World Cup qualifying match.

A feat he achieved when his 50th minute strike reduced the tally to 2-1 in an eventual 4-1 loss to the Black Stars of Ghana in Accra on August 28, 1960. 

Fayemi scored again in the return leg match in Lagos that ended 2-2. Till date, Nigeria’s number of goals has risen to 170 making the Super Eagles the second team behind Tunisia as side with most goals in all-time ranking of scorers among African teams in the World Cup qualifying series.

What a coincidence that Nigeria’s first scorer in the World Cup qualifying series died in Ibadan, the same sprawling city where RashidI Yekini, the first Nigerian scorer at the World Cup, also died. 

Fayemi, an inside left player for the Ibadan Lions in the late 1950s made his debut for Nigeria in 1959 in an Olympic Games qualifying match against Ghana. 

He had 15 appearances for the national team and scored seven goals before venturing to Britain to further his studies. Noted for his parabolic shots at goal, he inspired the Ibadan team to Challenge Cup finals in 1959, 1960 and 1961. 

His team lost only the 1960 final to the then ECN. He was at the centre of controversy in the 1961 final replay between Ibadan and Lagos UAC. It was believed that Fayemi, who at the time working with the Ibadan branch of UAC, was deliberately sent abroad at the time as a ploy by UAC to see him out of the cup final.

Fayemi had been a match winner for Ibadan for years and was due to travel to the United Kingdom for further studies just before the replay of the final match against Lagos UAC. 

It was further argued that another player, Kaiser Blankson who was also a player of Lagos UAC was also due to travel and would miss the cup final. 

Owing to the controversy, the UAC firm issued a press statement that Fayemi joined the staff of their Ibadan branch in June 1959 and resigned on September 1961.

It stated further that the player indicated he was going to UK on October 5, 1961 for further studies as a private student. On the eve of the cup final replay when Fayemi was travelling out of the country, he was very sad that neither the Western Region FA nor the Ibadan Divisional Amateur FA were at the airport to see him off.

He explained further that his school in UK opened since September 26, 1961 and that he had told the football officials of his plans to leave on the eve of the Challenge Cup final on September 29, but was convinced to stay till after the match. 

No one envisaged that the final would go into a replay. Ibadan however won the replayed match. May Pa Fayemi’s soul rest in peace. 

Mortal setback for football

Like every human endeavour, sports have had ample share of dreadful incidents. Bizarre tragedies have known no bounds. Last Monday, the world grieved over the death of almost the entire squad of the Brazilian football club, Chapecoense and its accompanying journalists. 

That experience is yet another sad reminder of the risk sports personalities pass through to give the expecting fans the thrills exhibited. Like journalists, they travel far and wide to give excitements to others. Thanks to the sportsmanship of the Colombian champions Atletico Nacional that instantly conceded the Copa Sudamericana trophy to decimated low-keyed Brazilian clubs. Great thanks to the other Brazilian clubs that have promised to come together and help Chapecoense rebuild by making them exempt from relegation for three seasons and offering to loan them players free of charge.

What a tragedy for a club at brink of its biggest match since being founded in 1973. Yet theirs was not the first instance.

As most must have known, last Monday’s crash on the mountains of Colombia was not the first to have affected sports teams. Estimated 280 sports personalities have died in air crashes since the 1949 Superga crash involving Torino of Italy in which all the 28 passengers were killed. 

Almost 10 years later a similar fate befell Manchester United. Just two years later, the sporting world suffered another terrible blow. Eight players of Chilean first division side, Green Cross, were among 24 killed when their plane crashed into Las Lastimas Mountain. References are also made to the air crash involving the Zambian national team in 1993 and the then Iwuanyanwu Nationale in 1994. May souls of the departed rest in peace.

 Congrats, eight-star Falcons

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It is not a great surprise that the Super Falcons have excelled for the eighth time in the African Women Championship. Whatever the situation, they remain giants in Africa and had won the first five editions with relative ease.

But the stiff oppositions now being faced in the continent could be gleaned from three of the five matches played in Cameroon.  A 1-1 draw with Ghana and second half lone goal victories of South Africa and Cameroon are indications that other African countries are fast catching up. 

While congratulating our Super Falcons, they should not lose sight of the closing gap in their continental dominance. They need to do more. There is the need to move from continental powerhouse to global phenomenon.  One looks forward to their making great impact at the World Cup and the 2020 Olympics. 

When will Mourinho grow up?

Maverick coach, Jose Mourinho is always in the news. More often than not, it is always for negative acts or comments. The latest being his conduct when his Manchester United were held to 1-1 draw at home by West Ham United.

That was the 15th sanction on the coach in his managerial career dating back to March 10, 2003 in his Porto’s 4-1 defeat of Lazio. 

That was followed by similar expulsions:

Feb. 27, 2005: Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool

Jan. 25, 2009: Inter Milan 1-0 Sampdoria

Mar. 15, 2009: Inter Milan 2-0 Florentina

Sep. 20, 2009: Cagliari 1-2 Inter Milan

Dec. 5, 2009: Juventus 2-1 Inter Milan

Nov. 10, 2010: Real Madrid 5-1 Real Murcia

Apr. 24, 2011: Real Madrid 0-2 FC Barcelona

Mar. 21, 2012: Villarreal 1-1 Real Madrid

May 17, 2013: Real Madrid 1-2 Atletico Madrid

Oct. 19, 2013: Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff

Mar. 15, 2014: Aston Villa 1-0 Chelsea

Oct. 24, 2015: West Ham 2-1 Chelsea

Oct. 29, 2016: Man. U 0-0 Burnley

Nov. 28, 2016: Man U. 1-1 West Ham