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BBC United shot down by Nigeria's Shooting Stars

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BBC World Service United take on the Shooting Stars of Ibadan

By Peter Whitty
BBC, Ibadan

The build-up to the football World Cup saw an unusual international friendly match take place in Nigeria as a touring BBC journalists took on the mighty Shooting Stars of Ibadan.

On paper the odds did not look good for BBC World Service United.

The Shooting Stars fielded a team which included at least two former Nigerian World Cup players, while the BBC was represented by journalists from seven nations, both men and women, in varying states of un-fitness.

The home side used the local weather conditions to their advantage when they delayed taking to the pitch.

After an hour of practising one-touch passing and penalties under the scorching heat of the midday Nigerian sun, the visitors were exhausted.

Chivalrous instructions

When the Shooting Stars finally started their tightly drilled practice routines, a further delay of half an hour was prompted by discovering that both teams were wearing white tops.

Shooting Stars footballer with ball.
A Shooting Stars player easily evades the BBC defence

By this time a couple of the BBC stars had wondered off to interview curious spectators who had gathered at the sports club at Ibadan University.

The match itself was a game of two halves, neither of which covered the BBC team in much glory.

In the first half the BBC was so soundly beaten, that the Shooting Starts decided to loan them some players for the second.

Yet even in the last 45 minutes, the journalists still did not see much ball action.

Despite the chivalrous pre-match instructions from the Shooting Stars coach: "Play in slow motion; give the ball away and don't tackle" - the journalists were unable to drive home their advantage.

Passing was random, knowledge of the off-side rule non-existent, and most driving runs ran out of steam after about 20 yards.

It was nevertheless a good-natured match.

The crowd of supporters with talking drums and horns yelled their encouragement every time the female players struck the ball, and the head of the BBC Central Asian Service became a crowd favourite because of his baggy shorts.

And when a BBC player - from Persian TV - did manage one goal, redeeming BBC pride, the stands erupted in celebration.

At the final whistle, a puffed BBC had lost 2-1 to the reigning Shooting Stars.



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