• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Armchair footballing

Armchair footballing

I don’t easily watch football except Nigeria is playing, then I pitch my tent with my countrymen and howl like I am going mad.

It’s my son who is the unreasonable fanatic in my house watching football in the middle of an exam and ensuring that Chelsea as a football club does not go into bankruptcy. I have never understood why we are screaming and supporting a group of people who don’t know us and making money for them. Not only that, we fight and quarrel in Nigeria while the football big boys in all the European clubs are smiling all the way to the bank. I have never understood it but I have made my peace. Whenever Chelsea loses, I now call in my condolences, and when they win, I let my son know that I am happy for him.

On Sunday, I stumbled into the FIFA Confederation and discovered that Nigeria was playing with Spain, so I stayed put on the sports channel. I neither play nor fully understand football, but I wish to join the professional non-qualified analysts to make my comments on that match. Here are my takes:

1) Fabregas and Torres may be detergents for all I care but they made the runs and scored some goals, so I now know their names for all time.

2) Mikel and two others seemed to be running alone towards the goal while others were bystanders. What was going on?

3) In the last 15 minutes or so there was a Nigerian defender called Musa Ahmed who saved us from shame and disgrace. He kept on taking the ball off the Spaniards and deflecting the ones that headed for the goal.

4) I think our goalkeeper Enyeama Vincent should get a national award. It’s easy to see he could not save us from a 3-0 defeat but honestly if it was not for his skills and dexterity it could have been 10-0. Did you see his saves? Good man.

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5) I really like Mikel and he seemed to be the only one in the match with a fire in him, plus two others whose names I can’t remember. But he missed a goal in the dying minutes and there was a big smile plastered on his face. We were all nervous at home biting our nails and everything. Was it a nervous laughter? Not sure but such a smile/laughter beamed on TV worldwide did not make him look good in a match that was slipping out of our hands. I forgive easily but even I did not know what that was about. He should have been shaking his head vigorously in sorrow and holding his head with both hands, that’s how unhappy footballers do it. We see it every day on TV.

6) My friend, Stephen Keshi, chewed on his gum with great anxiety and his face and body movement told the whole story. When the match was up and Nigerian players were smiling and exchanging T-shirts with the Spaniards, Stephen’s grim face showed that he understood what had just hit him, a great loss and a departure for home. Mikel and others can learn that look of disappointment from him. It’s not enough to know how to celebrate, it’s important to know how to show sadness. Dudes, you are on international TV and over 100 million Nigerians depend on you to give them a little joy.

7) There were flashes of a good run and attempts at scoring but the Spaniards continuously slowed the game to their advantage, and while they were casually passing the ball, only a few attempts were made by Nigerians to snatch it away from them. In fact, the commentator on a satellite channel continued to say in the last 30 minutes of the second half that Nigerians should fight and not let go. They may still score a face-saving goal. Occasionally they strolled across the field while the Spaniards were running for the Nigerian goal post. I wanted to enter the TV and wake them up. Run boys, run! And in the background I could hear Keshi buoying them up, shouting go! go!

8) There was a point where the crowd was jeering the Spaniards. Someone explain that to me. And when Nigerians made some deft moves, the crowd cheered and cheered. We could have had them eating out of our hands.

9) Later on, in conversation with my spouse and my football fanatic son, I got this perspective: The Spaniards hold the European cup and they are also world champions, so as far as they were concerned, Nigerians tried. Me, I only saw what I saw.

10) They seemed disconnected to me. What was going on? They also seemed tired towards the end. The late changes by Keshi gave a little spark and then died.

Finally, let’s give it to them for getting this far. Chairman Keshi is trying, let’s encouraging him.

And, by the way, I know nothing about football. I don’t even know offside. But I know what I saw and I am entitled to my illiterate armchair analysis. Over and out!