Ho! Shout it on the mountains, blow the trumpets, block the streets and make merry, Nigeria’s Super Eagles qualified for the quarter finals of the ongoing African Cup of Nations. Let the beer parlours be filled with people making raucous merry; singing the national anthem, albeit in the most unpatriotic ways. Let Nigeria Rejoice, it qualified, and Stephen Keshi’s neck is saved, for a few days.
Before I delve into the crux of this writ, let me just sound this caveat now: “I AM NOT A SUPPORTER OF THE SUPER EAGLES” okay, now that that is out of the way, let me say, I am a supporter of the Elephants of Cote D’ Ivoire. Before you start stoning me like you holy pass, chill small, make I yarn you my tori.
Growing up, I supported two football teams. The first one I was inducted to by birth. I supported the team and was a fan of Benedict Iroha. Yes a defender in a team that had players likes Rashidi Yekini, Jay Jay Okocha (who was a frustrating player back then with all his showmanship and wastefulness – That actually cost him the big football awards, he never won CAF African footballer of the year award), and others. Benedict Iroha, he stood as a rock. Watching the eagles play was a delight, no matter what, I always believed we could play our way out of any quandary.
Then came the drubbing by Denmark in France and until the ref blew, I still held out that we could come back, do a Houdini, we lost, I was heartbroken. But the team had given it their best, yes they underrated the Danes which was their undoing, but they learned a valuable lesson. Two years later, they were playing in the finals of the AFCON 2000. A game against Cameroun, we won that game, I don’t care what you think. Brother Ikpeba was the one who handed the cup to the Camerounians. He shoulda jubilated, egbon wa kawo mori (if you don’t speak Yoruba er… do a youtube search and watch Ikpeba’s reaction after he scored his deciding spot kick. I still am not translating :p).
So we lost at home and our neighbours stole our trophy in broad daylight. Sad day, since I don’t cry much, I was in a dark mood for days. Then AFCON 2002, we had to be rescued by Victor Aghahowa still we couldn’t touch the trophy, we went down the pecking order coming a measly third. Our neighbours reclaimed the title and stood tall whilst our heads were bowed, then came Japan/Korea 2002. I felt Onigbinde had a vision with the team he assembled and that whoever took over should keep the team, and look for other talents…
Instead, the team was disbanded, the coaching team sacked, and Nigerian football started on a downward spiral. Remember we couldn’t even beat ordinary Tunisia in the 2004 edition of AFCON, I looked at Okocha and though I hadn’t been his fan, I pitied the man as he tried to win the game, after wasting chances and doing plenty nonsense. Kanu seemed out of sorts, Tunisia had us in a peg and we couldn’t get out. They won, we settled for bronze, again. My frustration was mounting.
In 2006 my love affair with the Super Eagles came undone. Amidst all the hype about a super player (Obafemi Martins), the Nigerian team somehow lost it way and failed to qualify for Germany 2006. I had had enough. Then came the AFCON and these players with the wunkerkid could not even get to play in the final game of the competition, it was as if the team had a perennial fear of making the finals. They had settled for a position where they much wouldn’t be expected of them. I am a huge demand maker. After all that, I stopped seeing the Super Eagles games.
I had watched their steady decline and heard all the name calling, I was having none of that, I am not one to start stoning a man for not knowing how to swim when he claims he is an expert swimmer, I’ll just walk away and God help him. So I left the Eagles to their machinations and in 2008 discovered CIV, as fate would have it, both teams had to play, it was settled by a spark of brilliance from Salomon Kalou, dribbling through the Nigerian defense before slotting in to score. As I jubilated, my hallmates threw me out of the room and locked me out. To see the remainder of the game I had to go to the third house where I showed no emotion. CIV won, Nigeria lost and the expectation from the eagles was further lowered.
Yes, about the other team, ever heard of a team called Arsenal? ‘The Invincibles’? yup, I used to support them too, I don’t think I need to bore you with a chronology of their decline, we all watch EPL and see the way the club is headed, needless to say when my heart couldn’t take it no more, I walked. Lots of my friends accused me of not being a true fan, I asked them if being a fan included me developing a High BP because of a football club that doesn’t know I exist? I’d rather be healthy please.
So there, that’s my sod story. Now to predict what will happen when my team plays the Super Eagles, the Elephants gonn’ be walking all over the Eagles. If the Eagles by any stroke of miracle win, I’ll respect Stephen Keshi as a Coach, I still believe Samson Siasia is a better Coach. And stop antagonizing the Eagles. But we will have to wait and see abi? Nigeria going against Cote D’ Ivoire, back in the day, you’d be thinking win, now, the players be wetting their pants… :d