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Black History Month: Jollof creates a derby

The Jollof Derby is one of the fiercest on the international stage.


Soccer and food are two things from which rivalries can form. In some countries, soccer rivalries start on the field or within a neighborhood. Food also can have regional debates over who does it best. However, it’s rare that food and soccer combine to form one of the fierce rivalries in the world. That’s where the Jollof Derby enters the conversation.

The Jollof Derby is any soccer match that takes place between Nigeria and Ghana. The rivalry is so old, it precedes the independence day of both nations. With two of the most populous countries in Africa and situated close to each other in West Africa, these two nations compete in everything.

However, the Jollof Derby gets its name from...rice. Jollof rice is a rice dish from West Africa that’s made with long grain rice, tomatoes, onions, meat, other vegetables, and spices in a single pot. The preparation is slightly varied depending on which country you are in. And Ghana and Nigeria are both extremely proud of their Jollof rice. The rivalry’s name comes from the fact that Ghanaians and Nigerians constantly debate over whose Jollof is the best.

The first official match between the two nations came in 1960 in a World Cup qualifier, however the two nations have held matches dating back to 1950 that were not considered official. With Ghana traditionally wearing their white jerseys with a black star across the chest and Nigeria wearing some form of green jerseys, it became a fierce rivalrly very quickly. Ghana dominated the rivalry from the 1960s through the early 2000s, winning 4 Africa Cup of Nations in the process while Nigeria only won 2. However, Nigeria added to the debate by being better on the international stage, competing in several World Cups and having the highest FIFA ranking ever by an African team when it reached 5th in the world in 1994.

The Jollof Derby is considered one of Africa’s greatest rivalries, and it’s extremely intense. The two teams have faced off 56 times, with Ghana winning 25, Nigeria winning 12, and 19 ending in draw. Ghana has a huge advantage in goals scored, 91 to Nigeria’s 57.

The two teams also compare their other accomplishments. Ghana has 4 Africa Cup of Nations trophies to Nigeria’s 3, and Ghana has 14 total trophies while Nigeria has 12. However, Nigeria has more points in World Cups (21-19) and have more World Cup appearances (6) than Ghana (3). Still, Ghana has advanced the furthest in a World Cup when they made the quarterfinals in 2010.

The two teams have met in 7 Africa Cup of Nations competitions, with Ghana taking out their archrivals in the 2010 semifinals and the 1992 semifinals as well as the 2008 quarterfinals. In all 3 knockout stage wins against Nigeria, Ghana went on to lose the next match. Nigeria has beaten Ghana in the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1978, 1984, and 2006, while they also bested the Black Stars in the 2002 quarterfinals.

The Jollof Derby may make you hungry, but both teams have feasted on the passion of this rivalry for decades. It will continue on as one of Africa’s great rivalries, as rice proves to be the great divider. Still, each of these matches should be considered must watches due to the fiery play and fierce passion that exists when the two teams take the field.


For more Black History Month stories, check out our Black History Month hub. We will be bringing stories throughout the month to highlight some of the biggest moments in Black American and world soccer history.