The Nigeria Football Federation has expressed deep sorrow over the death on Monday morning of former Nigeria defender and an accomplished Head Coach of the Senior Women’s National Team, Super Falcons, Pa Ismaila Mabo. He was 80.
Reports said Mabo died in the early hours of Monday after a protracted illness.
“The death of Pa Ismaila Mabo came to me as a huge shock. Again, we have lost a great man and an accomplished trainer-of-trainers in the Nigeria Football fraternity, and my heart goes out to his immediate family and the other loved ones he has left behind.
“Mabo laid down a big marker for other coaches when he steered the Super Falcons to the quarter-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in the USA in 1999. Yet, he was simple, humble and humane. We will miss him, but we are consoled that he left giant footprints in the sands of time and pray that God will grant him eternal rest,” President of NFF, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau said on Monday.
A gifted central defender, Ismaila Mabo started as a schoolboy international with the Nigeria academicals team that broke the chain of Ghana’s constant whipping of Nigerian teams, when they defeated Ghana’s academicals 1-0 in Accra on 13th February 1966. It was the first time any Nigerian team would defeat a Ghanaian football team on Ghanaian soil.
Six days later, the Nigerian boys again defeated their Ghanaian counterparts 2-1 in Lagos. His team-mates included Peter ‘Baby’ Anieke, Tony ‘World 2’ Igwe, the illustrious Sam Garba Okoye and Eyo Essien.
After that accomplishment, Mabo joined Mighty Jets of Jos and was part of that club’s famous squad of the late 1960s and 1970s. He also featured for the senior national team, making his debut in a 1972 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Congo in Brazzaville on 22nd November 1970.
Mabo would later go into coaching, and was in the dug-out as Head Coach when the Super Falcons defeated North Korea 3-2, lost to USA and defeated Denmark 2-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999. The team stretched Brazil at that quarter-final stage before losing by a golden goal in extra time in Washington DC on July 1, 1999.