FA Cup: Iheanacho, Ndidi set to follow footsteps of six compatriots

Iheanacho and Ndidi are looking to follow in the footsteps of six Nigerians who have won the FA Cups

The FA Cup is the oldest football tournament in the world. It has been contested on and off from 1872 and has been won by 43 different teams; the most successful being Arsenal with 14 triumphs. Manchester United have won it 12 times; Chelsea are seeking a ninth win on Saturday while London neighbours, Tottenham, have also won it eight times.

A football competition steeped in so much history has had its fair share of Nigerian flavour and the most memorable must be Daniel Amokachi’s self-introduction in the semi-final of the tournament in 1995.

Daniel Amokachi – Everton, 1995

The date was April 9, 1995, and ‘Da Bull’ was a substitute as Everton went up against Tottenham at Elland Road but in quite absurd circumstances, the Nigerian subbed himself into the action when Paul Rideout was still receiving treatment pitch-side. In the days where you could only come on to the pitch through one way, Amokachi jogged on and effectively took the decision out of manager Joe Royle’s hands. Royle was totally against the move but it played out well for Amokachi as he scored the two goals that made the game safe for the Toffees and took them to the final. After the game, Royle admitted, “What a good mistake”. In the final they beat Manchester United1-0 with the goal scored by Rideout and Amokachi came on [legally] in the 69th minute.

Watch his two semi-final goals here:

Celestine Babayaro – Chelsea, 2000

One of the six trophies that Babayaro won while playing for Chelsea between 1997 and 2005 was the FA Cup 1-0 triumph over Aston Villa in 2000. In eight seasons in which he appeared in the FA Cup, the left-back made 20 appearances; scoring once and providing one assist.

Kanu Nwankwo – Arsenal, 2002 & 2003; Portsmouth, 2008

Kanu is the only Nigerian to have won the FA Cup with two different sides. While at Arsenal between 1999 and 2004, the Gunners won in 2002, beating Chelsea 2-0 in the final and retained the Cup in 2003 by beating Southampton 1-0. But his greatest triumph was with Portsmouth in 2008, when against all expectations, they went all the way to the final and defeated Cardiff 1-0, with Kanu scoring the only goal in the 35th minute.

Watch Kanu’s display here:

John Utaka – Portsmouth, 2008

Kanu’s compatriot and the provider of that goal was John Utaka. The skillful right-sided forward made 13 FA Cup appearances for Portsmouth over four seasons- scored two goals and provided two assists.

Mikel Obi – Chelsea, 2007, 2009, & 2012

Another triple winner of this prestigious and historic tournament is John Mikel Obi, who won it thrice with Chelsea in five years-2007, 2009, and 2012. In the 2007 final, Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0; in the 2009 final, they overturned a goal deficit to defeat Everton 2-1, and in 2012; the Blues beat Liverpool 2-1.

Alex Iwobi – Arsenal, 2017

Iwobi was a substitute for the game, in which Arsenal held off Chelsea’s challenge to win 2-1. Iwobi has not been to another final since.

Victor Moses – Chelsea, 2018

After being the villain in the 2017 final when two yellow cards meant Chelsea finished the match with 10 men, Victor Moses was back in the 2018 final and played all 90 minutes as Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0 courtesy of an Eden Hazard goal from the penalty spot in the first half.

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