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Friday, 18 February, 2000, 15:24 GMT
Were Nigeria robbed?




Co-hosts Nigeria lost on penalties in the Africa Cup of Nations final to Cameroon in dramatic and contentious fashion.

News and Information for Africa
The controversy was caused by the referee's disallowal of a Nigerian penalty which television replays appeared to show was a fair goal.

Are African referees up to the job? Are they regionally biased? Should referees be above criticism? Is it fair that they are publicly vilified by bad-mouthed, poor losers?

Should the African Football Confederation do anything, even though the tournament is now over?

A selection of you emails will be broadcast on Focus on Africa during the 1705 edition on Saturday.

Your reaction:

I am responding to what a Makia Epie wrote saying he is a referee and Nigeria should move on etc. For your information, Nigeria is moving on - believe me. How can you a "referee" condone what those Tunisians did when they were just a few metres away. The linesman was just about 2 metres away. TV replay shows that he was actually watching the player rather than the ball. Maybe you did not know even though you are a "referee" that he had the biggest responsibility in the whole of the arena to see if it was a goal or not. If his job was to see things like that and he missed it, I'm afraid, he has not done his job.
Dave, UK

Let us give the devil his due. No doubt both the Nigerian and the Cameroonian teams played marvellously. Their performances demonstrated a step towards the next World Cup. The Cameroonians played with determination to win like Europeans. Thus they deserved victory.
Ansumana M.Koroma(POLIE), Germany



Apparently the Tunisian linesman was still mad that his team lost to Nigeria
Ademola Ogunade, Nigeria
It is clear Nigeria were robbed. Apparently the Tunisian linesman was still mad that his team lost to Nigeria earlier on in the tournament and so he decided to make sure the Super Eagles did not take the cup. I don't know if anyone noticed but all the officials for the match all came from countries that Nigeria had beaten earlier on in the tournament.
Ademola Ogunade, Nigeria

I think Nigeria and Nigerians should accept the fact that Cameroon in now the African Champions even though there were a mistake. There will be another opportunity next time. It could have happened to Cameroon also and Nigerians will be happy to have the cup. Let's wait for another time and I pray we will be lucky to win the cup for keep.
Olalekan Kayode Fawumi, Nigeria/USA

If the officiating of the match was fair, there would be no talk about controversy. The irony of football today is that Videotapes are used to penalise offenders who escaped the referee's eyes during matches. But they are not used to change wrong decisions on goals, the very thing for which matches are played. If victory in football matches should come through either fair or foul means, then I say congratulations Cameroon.
Pasch Kizito, UK



Cameroon has defeated Nigeria three time in the finals of the African cup of Nations.
Epie, USA
There is one painful truth that all the Nigerian supporters in this forum have been ignoring: Cameroon has defeated Nigeria three time in the finals of the African cup of Nations. That is the same number of times that the two teams have met. It may be hard to swallow but the Nigerians need to try harder if they hope to beat Cameroon - even in Lagos.
Epie, USA

Nigeria has a right to grieve, but we have witnessed several mishaps by referees all over the world. One would equate Nigeria's disallowed goal to Cole's goal against Newcastle! But referees are human and do not have the reflex split action to confirm whether a ball has crossed the line or not and I believe where such doubts occur in the mind of the referee, the best action is not give goal. The Nigerians did well in the normal time play and should have aimed at winning the game then, knowing that PENALITIES in football is like a lottery - the team that holds its nerve - WINS!
Senkumba Richards, USA

Everybody seems to be missing the point. It was not a "disallowed" goal, it was simply not a goal. As I understand the rule book, the referee is the sole arbiter of what is, or is not a goal and he decided it was not. End of story. A return to more "human" values generally in sport would not do us any harm. It seems also that every player on the park makes numerous mistakes each game, some of them costly, however the poor old Ref is expected to be perfect all the time. Get over it and move on, life is too short.
Les French, Australia

Nigeria and Cameroon played exciting and spirited football. While the 'dust and mud' style of the Cameroon fetched them the first two goals of the match, the finesse of the lovely Super Eagles equalised in record time (a mark of quality and stuff I am sure; and a shock to the Lions!) Excluding the controversial goal of the penalty shoot out, the match could have gone either way!
Oge Ozofor, Germany



Nigeria were never robbed and I wanted Nigeria to win.
Name Here
Nigeria were never robbed and I wanted Nigeria to win. The two teams are good and if you have two best teams played for over 120 minutes without a winner. What does that tell you?
Al Selli, U.A.S

I feel that the purpose of penalties is to choose a winner from the toss of a coin, therefore mistake or not a winner has to be declared. The two teams had up to 2 hours of play without a winner, so its only fair to declare a winner somehow. I think the match was entertaining, and shows an improvement in African football.
Michael, England/Nigeria

I think the Super Eagles (if they are super at all) deserved to be beaten. The Eagles loose the intensity with which they started the second half of the game. Even though I believed that the referee ought to allow Oliseh's goal, the Eagles do not play like a team that really wanted to win. I just wish that it was a clean win.
Olu Koloeosho, USA

Until football utilises what in the USA is called "instant replay", we need to give our refs credit for doing a good job under a lot of pressure. I am Cameroonian and a ref here in the USA. We had the same questions after a penalty was awarded to GB against Cameroon in the World cup which led to Great Britain's win over Cameroon.
Refereeing after the game is over in itself a great past time. Let's move on. Nigerians have a right to complain if they wish but vilifying referees is counter productive. GO LIONS
Makia Epie, USA



I still wonder why an African referee was allowed to officiate in that epic final considering the possibilities of bias.
Nwachukwu, Nigeria
I believe that the referee did what he did knowingly. It was no mistake at all. His linesman had his flag down indicating that it was a goal. Nigeria's Ike, who was by the side of the linesman, saw it and protested against the decision but the referee ignored both his linesman and Ike.
I strongly believe that his handling of the match left much to be desired. Maybe his conduct was to impress the CAF president who incidentally is from Cameroon. I still wonder why an African referee was allowed to officiate in that epic final considering the possibilities of bias.
Nwachukwu, Nigeria

It's time for FIFA to have either one or both of the linesmen stand behind the goal post whenever there is going to be a penalty shot out, so as to assist the referee decide, when the goal becomes a controversy. They will act as a second eye of the referee, just as they help in deciding if the ball is still in play or not.
Nigeria was definitely robbed of that match. Seeking a second opinion on matters of such magnitude is most important, not just for the truth to prevail but for the development and continuos love of the game.
Tunde Phillips, United State America.



No Nigeria were not robbed. In fact Cameroon deserved the win because they played better than Nigeria even though Nigeria were playing at home. Had the referee ruled that it was a goal still it wouldn't have been a win for Nigeria. You have to remember history that this was the third time for Nigeria to play Cameroon in Africa Cup of Nations and on all those occasions Cameroon emerged winners. Nigeria should wait for next time.
Mabvuto Nkangala, Malawi

Granted, the referee made an error but surely he was not biased. Under such circumstances 80% of other distinguished referees might have taken the same decision. Above all Ikpeba helped the referee to form his opinion. Cameroon was a better team on the night and they won the trophy.
Haruna, Uganda

Both Nigeria and Cameroon teams played very well. I can say BRAVO to both sides. I hope they will keep it up and do something in the next coming World Cup. On the other hand the Referee and the entire CAF body should be penalised for not doing there job the right way.
Mohamed Deen Sillah, Germany

It was a very good match. Cameroon and Nigeria played a modern football with quality. I think the trophy went to the team that wanted to win and was more determined.
Mangles, Belgium



If the game is getting so tense that every decision counts then I think that the use of technology must be implemented,
Nicholas Hagi-Savva, England
I believe that referees are only human and so even if they have their referees badges or such, they are prone to making mistakes every now and then. If the game is getting so tense that every decision counts, then I think that the use of technology must be implemented, in order to stop the referees being harassed both on and off the football fields. As a prime example, cricket and rugby have both improved dramatically through the use of new technology.
Nicholas Hagi-Savva, England

I watched the finals between Cameroon and Nigeria on Cameroon Television. And during the penalty shoot out, I strongly believe that Ikpeba's reaction influenced the poor Tunisian referee to disallow his perfect goal. Players must know that their reactions on the field of play greatly influence the decision of referees. Remember the 'hand of God' Maradona used to score a goal in a world cup match. Many Cameroonian do agree with me. Cameroon and Nigeria both played well, but the Cameroonians were more GOAL thirsty than the Nigerians that is why God granted them a win. Better luck next time Nigeria.
Kwame, Cameroon

Well, it is human nature to complain about our loss when we think it is unfair. It is a fact that all of the Nigerian players are among the tops in the world. I don't know what the Nigerians saw but I didn't see most of the players were as dedicated as the Lions were. I think the eagles didn't play with their full capacity fearing they might be hurt.
Yalemzewd Negash, Ethiopia

It was really very bad judgement by the empire, after all everybody knows that Nigerian team really tried their best. So they shouldn't be disappointed.
Abubakar, Pakistan



Penalties are not the best way to decide a match, but then again the deserving side always come up victorious.
Udo Etukudo, Tanzania
Much is often expected of Nigerian football, given the professional depth of the team. So when the Green Eagles lose a match in competitions such as the Nations Cup, people get heart-broken. It must be said that most Africans love Nigerian Football. Cameroon however played a much better game of football than the Green Eagles. They were determined and one thing on their mind - Victory. Cameroon clearly deserved to win. Penalties are not the best way to decide a match, but then again the deserving side always come up victorious, whatever the circumstance. Congratulations to the Green Eagles nonetheless for making the tournament an interesting and exciting one.
Udo Etukudo, Tanzania

The game is over, the luckier side won the African Nations cup 2000. It could have gone either way. The main aim of penalty shoot-out is to have a winner. Drama, pain, tension and all that, football is not for the faint hearted. I enjoyed it. Again the luckier side won and that's history.
Johnnie Ben-Edigbe, Great Britain

The damage is done already, however AFC should not let the referee go without any punishment for his mistake. Once a ball crosses the goal line then it's a goal, no question asked. I congratulate Cameroon for putting off a good fight! Better luck to the Nigerians, you are the best in Africa, the world knows this!
Hakeem Onabanjo, Canada



I am sure everyone who watched the game will agree that Cameroon had the edge and was the better team
Harry Mbang, Cameroon/USA
I am sure everyone who watched the game will agree that Cameroon had the edge and was the better team. Didn't Cameroon as a whole look the better team coming in to the finals. I rest my case, Cameroon deserved the cup and Nigeria deserved to be the runners up.
Harry Mbang, Cameroon/USA

The notion that there's a conspiracy out there to rob Nigeria of the cup is ridiculous. The Nigerian players showed some class in defeat. That's the spirit of the game. Instant replay will also kill the flow of the game.
Halilu Adamu, Cameroon

Nigeria should learn a lesson for this kind of controversy by scoring within 90mins. Stop waiting for extra time. Nigeria sorry, but Cameroon deserves the cup since you refused to win by not doing what the world knows you for.
Eyo James, Singapore



The Nigerian game is characterised by over-elaboration and extravagant play.
Anthony Musonda, Zambia
I must say that if there is anything to be learnt by Nigeria from the last Africa cup final against Cameroon, it is that Nigeria should learn to play more effectively and win within 90 minutes of the game. But the Nigerian game is characterised by over-elaboration and extravagant play. Cameroon has one of the toughest defences on the continent and they do not spent more time, like Nigeria, trying to show their football skills. They want to score and win. That is how Cameroon won.
Anthony Musonda, Zambia

I believe both Cameroon and Nigeria played wonderful football. However, I am of the opinion that Cameroon really deserved to win the cup. So I do not see any reason why Nigeria should cry foul. In the final, Cameroon played well against the background of a foreign fan and scored two goals in the first half. Even though I am also doubtful of the penalty kick of Nigeria that was disallowed, Although Nigeria played brilliant football in this cup of nations, they lastly paid dearly to their vulnerable defence, which is their main weakness in any international football match.
Nigussie Dechassa, Ethiopia (now in Germany)

The referee's officiating during the penalty taking left a lot to be desired - the Cameroon goalie came off his line AS Kanu started his run up yet he failed to caution him. I have to question the eyesight (of lack of) the linesman as far as Ikpeba's penalty is concerned. It's high time FIFA introduced cameras in goals (like cricket has cameras in the stumps) or sensors, which emit a visual signal when the ball crosses the line. NIGERIA WERE ROBBED!
Omim, England



I firmly agree with the use of video evidence when a dangerous tackle needs further investigation for possible suspension of the offending player
Sean Hawks, Washington, DC, USA
The introduction of video replay for determining whether the ball crosses the goal line is absurd. First, television evidence is rarely conclusive. And second, video replays would consequently necessitate the introduction of a bureaucratic on-the-field appeal process. I firmly agree with the use of video evidence when a dangerous tackle needs further investigation for possible suspension of the offending player. However, the decision as to whether a goal occurs is left in the capable hands of the three on-the-field officials.
Sean Hawks, Washington, DC, USA

A referee is not a computer and to his best judgement that was not a goal, a fact supported by the way Victor Ikpeba covered his face with his hands conceding failure to convert that penalty kick into a goal. Victor Ikpeba later on said; "I have been told that that was a goal". Therefore why blame the referee when Victor Ikpeba tacitly agreed with the referee's decision because he did not see it as a goal.
Kebby Mainga, Zambia

I watched the match. Nigeria played the better football and deserved to win, but Cameroon scored two early goals, one very lucky, and hung on for penalties. They also got lucky with the Nigerian penalty, which was not given. The result stands though, and the lesson for every team is that you have to score goals - during the match or during the shoot-out. Get the ball in the net, then there is no argument.
Stephen Peters, Switzerland



I do not think the referee or the officials are to blame, because we all did the same mistake in the heat of the moment
Ahmed Selhaoui, Algeria
If Victor Ikpeba himself had believed he scored, people would have given him credit for that but it seems to me that his reaction after the penalty shows he made the same mistake everybody else did. I do not think the referee or the officials are to blame, because we all did the same mistake in the heat of the moment. Cameroon was very unfortunate in this, because they ended up with a cup they earned in every single way but nobody wants to acknowledge it as such.
Ahmed Selhaoui, Algeria

The Super Eagles played a gallant and interesting final. As my friend said, "We was robbed!" Well, folks, Nigerians can also be robbed in their home turf. Being runners-up is not shabby at all. Let Nigerians be proud of their gladiators, the Super Eagles. Thank you, Ose, Kupo, Dalu, Sanu, Sosongo, etc etc....
Edet O. Edet, USA/Nigerian

Everybody complains of the Tunisian referee, but they forgot that Kanu missed a penalty. Had he made the penalty, the game would have ended in the favour of the Nigerians. Blame him, not the referee. Nigeria needs to stops crying. They have lost the championship and need to go home to find a way to beat Cameroon next time. Bravo Cameroon!
J. Wuo Harris, Liberia, USA

The Tunisian referee made a costly mistake. He should face a disciplinary action. Congratulations to Nigeria and Cameroon for showing good skills in Africa soccer.
Ugo Oleru, USA



I wonder why everyone is crying foul. Is this the first time this kind of error has decided the outcome of a crucial game?
Eric Chu, US
I wonder why everyone is crying foul. Is this the first time this kind of error has decided the outcome of a crucial game? Even if the goal was allowed, what tells us Nigeria would have won the trophy? Is this the first time Cameroon is beating Nigeria? Why blame it on the referee?
Eric Chu, US

It is time to have instant replay especially in the African Nations Cup. Cameroon has been declared the winner. If the head of CAF and his staffs cannot managed or be a good administrator then, they should be dissolved.
Benson Kalejaiye, U.S.A

Both teams played the way they knew best, though I think the Cameroon Lions got away with a few rough tactics. Congratulations to the Lions, and kudos to the Super Eagles and their fans for keeping their heads in spite of poor officiating. I still feel Nigeria will be the first African World Cup champion someday.
Johan Kress, USA

Lucky, lucky Cameroon three times you won against Nigeria, twice with the help of a French speaking referee - the first a disallowed goal by Henry Nwosu in 1988, second an off side goal by Nboma and the third an obvious penalty goal by Ikpeba. This is not like a Maradona goal or a Geoff Hurst goal because the assistant referee was about a metre away and the referee was also a few metres away how can you commit such a blunder that was a blunder too many
Mustapha, UK



If the video reply showed that the ball crossed the line, the goal should have recorded as it is done in most hockey games
Odus Omos, Canada
That such things would happen to the most important football tournament in Africa is quite appalling. Bad officiating has been the major reason why African referees are not called up for any major FIFA events. Can the final match be replayed again? The answer is NO! All we (Nigerians) have to do is wait for the next tournament, and let Cameroon enjoy their undeserved championship.
Temple, Nigeria/USA

It was a goal, but to protest is unreasonable. It was a thrilling 120 minutes of warfare. I concede the match to Cameroon for putting up a good fight. If my country was to win, my preference was for a clear win - in the battlefield, not on penalties. It was evidence that the Europeanised Nigerian stars failed to play the 'dust and mud' African soccer style that Cameroon exhibited, their stamina and zeal was greater. Clearly they deserve the Cup. Nigeria was comatose by poor finishes - what happened to hitting the net from 25? Not the Arsenal, Chelsea and PSG inspired dribble attack style.
Ike Nwagbo, Nigeria/USA



Mistakes like this will continue to happen unless television evidence is introduced.
Seni, Nigeria
Obviously, Nigeria was robbed. The blame must rest on the referee. It was his duty to ensure that he gave the right decisions. Unfortunately, he is only human and he made the error in the most important event on the African Continent. Mistakes like this will continue to happen unless television evidence is introduced as is done in cricket. I believe that the matter should be left alone (i.e. Cameroon winning the cup) but CAF should discipline the referee.
Seni, Nigeria

I didn't watch the game, but I had a good laugh at the expense of my friend who is Nigerian! No doubt Nigerians will complain for years to come!!!! Go on Cameroon!!!!
Zafar Nadeem, England

The ball quite clearly crossed the line. It was plain enough for all to see. It was not a marginal decision like the Geoff Hurst goal in 1966, it was clearly a goal. And there was a linesman there to watch for such things. Nigeria should protest the result immediately, or the AFC should order the final to replayed as soon as possible.
Mark Verth, UK



The Tournament is over and Nigeria lost!
Lawrence Kiprop, Kenya
Nigeria should accept the defeat graciously. The ref is qualified and if he made any mistake he is human and should be accepted. Diogo Maradona used his hand to aid in a goal and the referee did not see. The Tournament is over and Nigeria lost!
Lawrence Kiprop, Kenya

Yes it was a goal and everyone knows it, including the Ref. Should Nigeria protest? Absolutely. Some might say it is just a game; it is not just a game, it is a business because a lot of money has been invested. This is the second time Nigeria has been denied the cup with the help of CAF and its officials. It is a shame for football on the whole continent. I think the matter need to be taken to FIFA and dealt with seriously to prevent it happening again.
Guy Bouaka, Togo

I am not surprised by all the negative attacks on Cameroon. Rather than Cameroon being on the headlines, we now have Nigeria making headlines. So you tell me who is being robbed?
Elizabeth Nangmenyi, Cameroon

Nigeria would not have been in that state had Kanu scored his penalty. Still, what can you expect from an Arsenal player in a penalty shoot-out?
Dave Basingstoke, UK



To lose gallantly is different from losing by a glaring mistake by the Tunisian referee.
Meehar Dede, Britain
If the video replay of the controversial goal by Ikpeba is justified, efforts should be made by CAF to correct the wrong. After all, fines were made for unruly behaviours after matches. Fairness and justice is the key word. To lose gallantly is different from losing by a glaring mistake by the Tunisian referee.
Meehar Dede, Britain

Unfortunately, the referee unlike the rest of us does and did not have the benefit of television's instant replay. Nigeria must accept its fate and move on. Africa knows they are the team to beat.
Ekow Mensah, USA

The AFC should indeed look into the disallowed goal and punish the referee if it was a true goal but also we need to understand another fact, which is "is there a rule about instant video replay to justify a valid goal? If not the referee may escape punishment by the AFC.
Emmanuel Adeniji, USA

When the ball crosses the goal line in soccer it is then considered a goal, Ikpeba's penalty was a goal. I think Nigeria should forget about it while everybody involved including CAF should address this kind of situation so it doesn't happen again.
Chris Idehen, USA



The Nigerians were very childish, by looking for cheap free kicks.
Kolawole Raheem, Finland
The penalty taken by Ikpeba was a clean goal. I think FIFA should consider the system of deciding such controversial goal used during the Ice Hockey Games. Even though Referee Daami was really bad during the match, the Nigerian boys lost mainly by their playing like "boys against men". They had a very good world class team that was arrogant.
No team however superb it might be, should think that its opponent is a simple walk over. Nigerians nearly lost the game against Senegal and lost to Cameroon because of such attitude. They were also deceived by their crushing South Africa in the semi-final.
Referee Daami was too nervous to officiate the match. He was even so nervous at the end of the match that he wanted to present the ball to the CAF President when he was receiving his "gift" on the podium. The Camerounians were very rough from the beginning to the end. The Nigerians were very childish, by looking for cheap free kicks. All in all, it was a thrilling game. I praise all the players for doing such a hard work for about 150 minutes in the Lagos "oppressive" weather.
Kolawole Raheem, Finland



I bet such things may never happen with European referees.
Chidi, Nigeria
In as much as both teams played very well and Cameroon is now crowned the king of African football for the next two years, it goes on to show the detrimental effect the CAF leadership under Issa Hayotou is having in the development of African football.
Clearly, if the match had ended in favour of Cameroon after full time, nobody would have doubted they played well. But the issue of the refereeing cannot just be washed away like that. It's been a major thorn in the flesh of African football as evidenced in the epic final in Lagos.
I bet such things may never happen with European referees. That's why I have been an advocate of FIFA not using African referees at all in any of it's organised matches and for CAF to adopt a neutral referee anytime there is a crucial match of this calibre.
Chidi, Nigeria



One man defeated the Nigerian side, The Tunisian referee.
Demola, USA
To lose a game due to improper officiating really tarnishes the game of football in Africa. I know that the referee is human and is due to make human mistakes, but to make such a big one that really decided the winner of the Unity Cup is nothing to write home about. Television replay clearly shows that the ball crossed the line.
That is the difference between developed and under-developed countries. It is a blunder that has to be corrected, if the referee does not have a proper insight of the controversial goal, he should have gone to the television booth and seek better view of the goal. It was a good match that shouldn't have been marred by any controversy due to the match officials. One man defeated the Nigerian side, The Tunisian referee.
Demola, USA

It certainly is everyone's desire that there be no controversy in a tournament as important as the African Nations cup, and more especially in a match as important as the finals. But from the reports I have read and listened to, the match between Cameroon and Nigeria was of a very high standard, and I take this opportunity to say BRAVO Cameroon, and Bravo Nigeria.
Denis Nkweteyim, USA

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