By Sedara Philip
President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau has felicitated with a two-time Secretary General of NFF, Alhaji Sani Ahmed Toro and former international goalkeeper Emmanuel Okala on their respective birthday celebrations.
Alhaji Toro, who holds the traditional title of Yerima of Toro town in Bauchi State, hit the landmark platinum jubilee age (70) on Monday, same day that ‘Man Mountain’ Okala turned 72.
“Words are not enough to describe the accomplishments of these two men. Alhaji Toro was the first Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Professional Football League, on the launching of the professional game in Nigeria, and served as Secretary-General of the nation’s football-governing body during an unforgettable period.
“Emmanuel Okala remains a household name until this day, despite having left the national team more than 40 years ago. I am happy for both Alhaji Toro and Emmanuel Okala and I pray for longer lives in good health and sound mind for both of them.”
Alhaji Toro, an unassuming but thorough and diligent administrator, was Secretary-General when Nigeria qualified for the FIFA World Cup finals for the first time (1993) and also when the Super Eagles won the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time on away ground (Tunisia, 1994). He was also in office when the U23 team won Africa’s first-ever Olympic football gold in Atlanta, USA in 1996.
Okala was the Green Eagles’ number one goalkeeper for several years, and was in goal when Nigeria won the All-Africa Games football gold in 1973. He was also a member of the Green Eagles’ winning squad at the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations – Nigeria’s first triumph in the continent’s flagship football championship.