The colour, skill and passion that Africa has brought to recent FIFA World Cups™ is widely celebrated, and the continent will take its place at the heart of the tournament when South Africa plays host to next year's eagerly-awaited showpiece. Yet while Bafana Bafana will be just one of six African nations competing in 2010, it should not be forgotten that, until the 1958, Africa did not even have a confederation, far less a FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament.
28 August 1960, Accra Sports Stadium, Accra
Ghana 4-1 Nigeria
Scorers: Ghana (Acquah 18, Boateng 44, Aggrey Fynn 54, Salisu 55); Nigeria (Fayemi 50)
Ghana: Laryea, Simmons, Oblitey, Ankrah, Odametey, Tanko, Yara, Acquah, Aggrey Fynn, Boateng, Salisu.
Nigeria: Onagoruwa, Onyeama, Achebe, Duru, Fobiri, Anyiam, Omeokachie, Enamako, Fayemi, Nnamoko, Ekpe.
As the 'winds of change' were wafting over Africa, so national states were emerging from yoke of colonialism. The continent had just formed its own confederation, with the launch in 1958 of the Confederation of African Football, and for the first time the continent had its own qualifying campaign for the FIFA World Cup finals, although the African group winner faced a play-off against a European team for a berth at the 1962 finals.
When this match took place, Ghana were newly independent, while Nigeria were just days away from securing self-rule. The two west African nations also shared a healthy and long-standing rivalry. They had been playing against each other in an annual tournament known as the Jalco Cup before applying for FIFA membership and joining the world football family. Just under 12 months before their FIFA World Cup debut, the two countries had played out a thrilling Olympic Games qualifying tie in which Ghana came back from a 3-1 deficit to edge the Nigerians 5-4 on aggregate.
Nigeria's first national side had only been selected in 1949 and toured England, where the Football Association had donated a coach to them but the side played barefoot. Just a decade later, they had employed the Israeli Moshe Beth-Halevi, although he took over just days before the first FIFA World Cup qualifier. Ghana also sought assistance from more traditional sources, with Hungarian Joseph Ember at the helm.
Ghana had not been a happy hunting ground for Nigeria in previous years and preparations for start of the FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign had seen them well beaten by African champions Egypt.
The Ghanaians, meanwhile, were hoping for a positive start, mindful that they had beaten the 'Red Devils', as Nigeria were then known, 7-0 just five years earlier. The Black Stars were, however, without their star man CK Gyamfi, who had gone off to play for Fortuna Düsseldorf in Germany. However, there were still a bevy of excellent players at Ghana's disposal, such as Baba Yara from Kumasi Kotoko and Edward Aggrey Fynn.
Some 40,000 crammed into the Accra Sports Stadium for the first FIFA World Cup qualifier played south of the Sahara, refereed by Arthur Holland of England, and it took just 18 minutes before Ghana's Edward Acquah opened the scoring with a trademark left-foot shot. Just before half-time, the lead was extended by Edward Boateng, leaving the crowd whistling and cheering.
But the celebrations did not last long because, just four minutes into the second half, Dejo Fayemi rounded off a rapid attack to haul Nigeria back into contention. Ghana did not take long to restore their two-goal advantage, however, with captain Fynn making it 3-1 and Mohamadu Salisu putting the outcome beyond doubt almost straight from the restart.
Edward Aggrey Fynn was known as 'the master' for his vision and dribbling skills. He played in what today is the midfield but was then known as a half-back position at the centre of the game. He was also called a 'gentleman strategist' and 'professor' and captained the side when Gyamfi was unavailable. That included trips to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and also the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. His career was cut short by a car accident but he went to on to coach Asante Kotoko to CAF Champions Cup success and later also took charge of Ghana's Black Stars.
What happened next...
Nigeria hosted the return leg in Lagos on 10 September 1960 and, despite facing an injury-hit Ghana side, could only draw 2-2. The Black Stars duly qualified to meet Morocco in the African play-off, a tie won 1-0 by the Moroccans over two legs. Morocco then lost 4-2 on aggregate to Spain in the play-off for a place at the 1962 FIFA World Cup finals.