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The A – Z of street football in Nigeria

There are only few countries more passionate about the game of football than Nigeria. Nigerians love the game and they do everything they can to showcase their love, right from a tender age.

From going through immense physical and financial stress just to watch their favorite footballers on television, they also actively play the game. In every street or – as they like to call it – hood in the country, there is usually an undeveloped plot of land utilised as a makeshift football pitch. Some are even named after the big stadiums in Europe like San Siro, Maracana etc.

Anyone that has been in some of these pitches either to play or act as spectator will agree that apart from the football talent on display, there is also a special lingua that only players of the game seem to understand.

Here, we try to help you understand some of them using the alphabets. Enjoy!

A – Allow: Usually, shouted by the goalkeeper to his defenders to alert them that he is going for the ball and they shouldn’t impede his movement. It is also used by players to indicate to their teammates that they are going for the ball.

B – Backman: Simply, this is the guy expected to never leave the ‘back’. He is to either mount the post if there is no goal keeper or ensure that the goalkeeper doesn’t deal with too many shots in case there is one.

C – Counter: In Ibadan, they call it ‘Kanta’. It is the same with counter attack. Once you hear this and your team isn’t with the ball, run back to your defence! This is why a ‘backman’ is expected to never leave the back. These counters are swift and deadly.

E – Escobar: Remember this, right? Well, whenever you hear this, an own goal has been scored. In case you’re wondering where this originated from, read about the famous story of Colombia’s Andres Escobar.

F – Four Post: This is usually played when there aren’t enough players to make a full team on both sides. Basically, four small posts are mounted on the pitch – usually with stones or any other move-able object – and then four players take charge of the posts with the intention of preventing a goal from being scored in their post as well as scoring in that of others – all with just a single touch of the ball.

F – Force them to play nonsense: This is old and gold. It is often said by the team without possession of the ball in a bid to pressurize the team in possession of the ball to lose it. Trust me, when you are on the ball and you have two or three people screaming this at you, it takes a lot of composure to think straight and make the right decision.

G – Gobol: On the streets of Nigeria, you’ll never hear ‘Goal’, instead what you hear is – GOBOL! or in fancy areas like Lekki; Goal-Ball!! It simply means a goal has been scored.

H – HighBall: Because the goal posts are often made of bricks, stones or several school bags placed on one another, players are expected to score without hitting the ball too high or at the very least, higher than the post. Once you do, it is considered a ‘high ball’ and consequently ruled out. Now, because there is no standard height measurement of the post and the ‘highness’ of a ball is adjudged by the eyes of the spectators, this has led to many fights and sometimes, broken heads.

J – Jalo: Remember what Mahrez did to Demichelis in Leicester City’s 3 – 1 triumph at the Etihad? Yeah, that’s a jalo. When you dribble a player and for several minutes, he isn’t sure where he is, he suffered a Jalo.

K – Kolo: This is very common and embarrassing. Kolo is when a player successfully puts the ball between the two legs of his opponent. Yeah, it is what you guys call ‘nutmeg’. Trust me, if this ever happens to you, don’t show up for three days. The torment might lead to depression.

L – Lastman: No, this doesn’t refer to the traffic managers in Lagos. On the contrary, it refers to the random guy, who probably isn’t good enough to make the playing squad, selected and charged with the responsibility of assisting the referee from the touch line or determining if the ball is out of play.

M – Monkey post: These are small posts made of bricks, stones and pretty much anything. Their length is often measured with a player’s foot. For these kind of posts, a goalkeeper isn’t required. Just a back man that is expected to defend the goal with his legs.

O – Ojoro: This simply means cheat. It is often used when a referee is bias or a side tries to win decisions because of their influence. Most football lovers hate it. And that may be the reason some love to beef Barcelona.

P – Parallel: This is the exact opposite of the ‘High Ball’. It is a low shot fired at the goal post. The ball rolls on the ground, without any levitation, right until it reach it’s destination. These kind of shots are the ones required to score in most monkey posts.

S – Set: In most cases, the football pitches are hardly big enough to serve the active players of the game in the hood. So, in order to ensure that everyone gets a chance to play, sets a created. A set is usually group of guys consisting of a striker, backman and sometimes, a goalie. The sets pick a number and the first two get to play against each other first. Once a set is able to defeat another, the next one waiting in line gets to replace the defeated team.

T – Throw-in better: The way football works, defenders are sometimes in a precarious situation. They are often caught in a corner and an error – or slip in the case of Gerard – can lead to a disaster. In this case on the streets, the teammates of the defender as well as the spectators would scream ‘throw-in better’ to point out to him that it is wiser to kick the ball out of the play. For his own good, he better listen.

Y – You go gree: This is a question that needs no answer. It is directed at a defender trying to mark an attacker who sought to get past him. They are simply asking if he would let the attacker dribble him or get past him. The kind of motivation this gives defenders is out of this world. He doesnt have to respond with his mouth. A perfect response would be to displace the striker.

Z – Zangalo: This is a bicycle kick. It is a kind of goal scored by special players. Once you score this, you have your name written in gold and you can be rest assured it would be passed down from generation to generation.

So guys, there you have it! We are certain these terms must have brought back some memories. Which one did we miss out? Let us know!