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June 30, 1994 – Nigeria 2:0 Greece, World Cup at Foxboro Stadium (Att.: 53,001)

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With Diego Maradona’s suspension announced on June 29, 1994, Argentina lost its edge and risked dropping out of first place in Group D of the World Cup. The Argentines needed at least a draw against Bulgaria in the final group game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, and they had a numerical advantage in a 0-0 match into the late going. Meanwhile, Nigeria held a 1-0 lead over Greece and coach Clemens Westerhof was monitoring things as Argentina fell behind to a Hristo Stoitchkov goal, the game concluding with the Bulgarians winning, 2-0.

Scottish referee Leslie Mottram added five-plus minutes to the second half of the Nigeria-Greece match, and Westerhof urged the Super Eagles on, Daniel Amokachi providing the second goal in the fifth minute of added time, giving Nigeria the group lead on goal differential.

That meant Nigeria would be top seeded from the group and remain at Foxboro Stadium to face Italy in a second-round match July 5, 1994.

From my story in July 1, 1994 editions of The Boston Globe: “Amokachi’s goal, in the 49th minute of the second half, sailed into the net just as former President Bush, Gov. Weld and the rest of the crowd of 53,001 began leaving and just seconds before Scottish referee Leslie Mottram whistled the end of the match.”

Several teams attempted to claim the Boston area as their own during the 1994 World Cup. Of the teams with group stage games scheduled at Foxboro Stadium – Argentina, Bolivia, Greece, Nigeria, South Korea – the Greeks probably had the deepest-rooted and largest potential constituency, but struggled to connect, partly because of the team’s pre-tournament struggles. The Argentinians set up at Babson College and the Bolivians in Southeastern Massachusetts. Nigerians organized a reception for the Super Eagles in Franklin Park in Dorchester, the team arriving after a 3-0 win over Bulgaria in its World Cup debut at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas June 21, 1994. Nigeria arranged several public appearances, mostly organized by sports entrepreneur Adekunle Raji, who had attended Northeastern University and worked in the New England Patriots’ front office.

TODAY IN NEW ENGLAND SOCCER HISTORY

 

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