Mohammed Acha

Late Mohammed Acha was born on 21st July 1974 to the family of Igoche & Late Achetu Acha and had 6 siblings; Edo, Mary, Gideon, Abo, Inalegwu Henry (Dre) and Inyamuwa Linda.

Mohammed started his education in Otukpo at St. Francis Primary School and Government Secondary School (GSS) before proceeding to Vincennes Junior College in Indiana and Costal Carolina University in South Carolina.

Like most kids growing up in Otukpo in the late 70’s and early 80’s, football was Mohammed’s first love but all this was to change when he was introduced to basketball in GSS. He took to basketball like a fish to water and in no time he became the toast of Otukpo sporting circles following his exploits in All Secondary School Games competitions and Inter-Schools friendly matches and before long he joined Outkpo based amateur basketball side, Salem Trotters. Despite his late introduction to basketball, Mohammed’s immense talent was evident for all to see and it was no surprise when he moved to the US to continue his studies and also develop his basketball skills.

The exploits of this Idoma icon soon drew the attention of national team coaches and he was invited to camp in preparation for the 1993 African Championship for Junior Men in Maputo Mozambique, which Nigeria eventually did not participate in but Mohammed would not wait long before donning the national colours.

In 1995, Mohammed made it to the senior national basketball team, D’Tigers and was to remain a key member of the national side until 2001. He was a member of the bronze medal winning basketball team at the 1999 edition of the All Africa Games in South Africa. He also represented Nigeria in the FIBA African Championships in 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001. In the 1995 Championship, he was the tournament’s top scorer with 20 ppg.

At the 1998 FIBA World Championship in Athens Greece, though Nigeria was eliminated in the preliminary rounds, Mohammed still finished second in the Championship’s top scorers chart behind Alberto Herreros of Spain.

Mohammed, who stood at 6ft 7in, was a handsome, gentle and unassuming young man who strove for the best in all he did and therefore was able to accomplish so much in his basketball career.

While at Coastal Carolina, he broke the Coastal Carolina University single season block shot record in 1992 – 93 season with 51 block shots, a record that stood until the 2009 – 10 season. In August 1993, Mohammed was a member of the 10-man Big South Basketball (NCAA) All-Star team that went on tour to Russia and at the end of the tour he was voted the tournament’s MVP.

Mohammed was a Lebanese Basketball League Champion with Club Sagesse of Ashrafieh, Lebanon from 1998 to 2001. During his career with Club Sagesse, he was also an Arab Clubs Champion in 1998, Asian Basketball Club Champion in 1999 (where he was voted the Best Playmaker at the Championship) and Lebanese Basketball Cup winner in 2001.

Mohammed became the second and last Nigerian to participate in the McDonald’s Open when Club Sagesse took part in the last edition of the McDonald’s Championship in 1999. This was an international men’s basketball cup competition played between the champions of the continental club competitions and an NBA invited side between 1987 and 1999.

Before his death on 29th October 2002, Mohammed had an illustrious club basketball career which saw him play for Salem Trotters Otukpo, Benue Braves, Niger Potters, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (NCAA), Louisiana Crawdads (CBA), Palm Beach Stingrays (USBL), Canterbury Rams (New Zealand), Al-Ansar (Saudi Arabia) and Club Segesse (Lebanon).

Mohammed, who is listed on USBL All-Time Roster, was just a normal Idoma guy who enjoyed watching movies, playing video games and being around his friends and family. He was a great personality who was adored by fans and commanded the respect of his opponents. And in the words of Pius Ayinor

Dan De Bull Amokachi

Daniel Owefin Amokachi, the Nigerian living football legend, was born in Kaduna on 30th December 1972 to Mr. Ikwulechin Amokachi who hails from Otukpa in Ogbadibo Local Government Area.  Amokachi aka “The Bull” came to national limelight in 1988 when he broke into the first team at Ranchers Bees FC of Kaduna in the second half of the 1988 Nigeria Division One League Football season.

The exploits of this new exciting talent, called Amokachi, continued into the 1989 football season and soon caught the attention of the national team handlers. While Nigerians were expecting the then 16 year old Amokachi to be selected for the Golden Eaglets side preparing for 1989 U-17 World Cup in Scotland, national team coach Clemens Westerhof had other ideas and Amokachi was invited to the senior team B side which went on to win the ECOWAS Cup in Bauchi in December 1989.

Due to the pay dispute that existed in early 1990 between foreign based players and the Nigerian Football Association (NFA), Clemens Westerhof decided to take the bulk of his ECOWAS Cup winning side to the African Cup of Nations in Algiers in March 1990. The then 17 year old Amokachi made his debut in the premier African football competition and played a key part in Nigeria placing second at the competition, having lost the finals 1-0 to host Algeria.

Amokachi’s performance in Algiers meant it was only a matter of time before he left the domestic scene and in July 1990 he signed for Belgian side Club Brugge KV. His game developed in Belgium and he would go on to score 35 goals in 81 appearances before leaving in August 1994. During his time in Brugge, he won the “Best African Player in Belgium” award for two (2) seasons and went into the history books by scoring the first goal in the new UEFA Champions League with his goal against CSKA Moscow in a 1-0 victory on 25th November 1992.

Just as his club career was growing in leaps and bounds, so also was his national team stature. Amokachi was an integral part of the successful Super Eagles side of the 90s, helping Nigeria to third place at the 1992 African Cup of Nations in Senegal, securing Nigeria’s qualification for the USA 94 World Cup in October 1993 and winning the 1994 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia in April 1994.

At the 1994 World Cup in USA, hard-working Amokachi, whose power play style of football had earned him the nickname the “The Bull”, announced himself on the world stage. His goals against Bulgaria and Greece in the group stages, helped Nigeria progress to the second round where the Super Eagles narrowly lost to Italy 2-1 after extra time.

After the World Cup, it was no surprise when Amokachi sealed a £3m move from Club Brugge to English Premiership side Everton. Amokachi, known to the Evanton fans as “Amo Taxi” due to his bustling style of play, won the prestigious FA Cup in 1995. He also earned a place in Evanton’s folklore when he came on as a substitute (against the manager’s order) in the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspurs and scored 2 goals in a 4-1 victory. Following a change of Managers at Everton, Amokachi found playing time limited and not one to sit around, he left Evanton in June 1996. In his 2 seasons with Evanton, he scored 10 goals in 43 appearances.

In July 1996, Amokachi signed for Turkish side, Besiktas before joining up with the Nigerian U-23 side (known as Dream Team) as one of the 3 overage players, along with Emmanuel Amunike and Uche Okechukwu, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Amokachi played all 6 matches as Nigeria went on to win Africa’s first Olympic gold in football with a 3-2 victory against Argentina in the final match with Amokachi scoring the second goal.

Just before the 1998 World Cup in France, Amokachi sustained a knee injury that would ultimately end his football career. Despite his knee injury, Amokachi made the Nigerian team to the 1998 World Cup but could only play 67 minutes in the 1-0 victory over Bulgaria. His national team career saw him score 14 goals in 42 appearances.

After the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Amokachi continued to struggle with knee problems and had to leave Besiktas in 1999. During his time in Turkey, Besiktas won the Chancellor Cup (1997), TSYD Cup (1997), Turkish President Cup (1998) and Turkish Cup (1998) scoring 19 goals in 97 appearances.

Planned moves to 1860 Munich in Germany and Tranmere Rovers in England fell through due to failed medical tests. He had stints with US Créteil-Lusitanos in France (2000/2001), Colorado Rapids in the US (2002) and Emirate Club in UAE (2002/2003) before finally retiring from professional football.

In 2005, Amokachi came out of retirement as a Player / Manager with Nasarawa United in Nigerian Premier League and successfully led Nasarawa United to second place in league in 2006. He briefly coached Enyimba in 2008 before joining the national team set-up. Daniel Amokachi is currently one of the assistants to the national team coach, Stephen Keshi.