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Sunday, 16 June, 2002, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Nigeria kick off jail world cup
Nigerian inmates beat the Japanese prisoners 5-1
Guards stand watch as Nigerian inmates play Japan
Nigeria's Super Eagles may well have gone home early from the World Cup but a group of former countrymen are keeping the dream alive in the Far East.

The Nigerian inmates at Thailand's notorious Klong Prem prison beat Japan 5-1 as the "Bangkok Hilton" kicked off its own World Cup.

"We've been training once a day for a month. It's great. It relieves the stress of prison life," said 35-year old Prince Juvenal, a Nigerian doing time for drugs trafficking at Thailand's notorious prison.

Open Quote
I feel like a representative, I have the quality it is only that I am in prison
Close Quote
Goal-scorer Chuka

Inmates in women's clothing and a prison brass band led out the eight teams of prisoners at the all-male prison.

The England team mascot was a man dressed as Queen Elizabeth II while Japan's team mascot donned a kimono.

Nigeria completely dominated the opening game, one of the players, Chuka, scored two.

He said: "I love the game of football, this is what I used to do when I was small.

"I feel like a representative, I have the quality it is only that I am in prison and I don't have a good coach."

Nigeria, France, Germany, Thailand, England, Italy, the United States and Japan are battling over the next few days for a wooden model of the real world cup trophy made by inmates.

Toothbrushes and soap will also be awarded to the winning team.

Emmanuel Agbana of the Nigerian embassy said he was not surprised his compatriots easily unlocked the Japanese defence.

"We are a great footballing nation," he said.

The prison is home to 1,132 foreign inmates serving sentences of between 10 and 30 years for crimes such as drug trafficking and murder.


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