At last, we’ve played the first two games of the World Cup. I think you’ll be reading lots about the World Cup in the next month, from all sorts of places, so why not here too?
I was walking home, listening to the game between Germany and Costa Rica, when I realised that it wasn’t worth killing myself for. With the headphones on, I could hardly hear anything else, (not even the roadside traffic) and in any case, I knew Germany would win. After the brief scare of the equaliser, things returned to what we all expected. By the time the game was over, I was back home to hear all the details from the commentators.
Now, if Nigeria had been playing, I wouldn’t even have been out in the first place. but more on that on another day. My question though is how come we’re not there this time. Since 1994, we’d come to expect that Nigeria would be at each world cup for ever. And may I remind my gloating English friends that in 1994, they were all busy supporting Ireland, just like most Nigerians would probably be supporting Ivorycoast or even Togo … now there’s a laugh!
Most comentators talk about the great teams of Africa missing out this time. Well, I don’t know about Cameroon and South Africa, but I saw Nigeria’s failure coming. After the heady days of 1994, we’d been performing worse and worse. Our last victory in a world cup game was the first match in 1998, when we beat an underperforming Spanish side in a thrilling game. That victory alone took us to the knock out stages, but in 2002, we didn’t even get that far, losing two and drawing an inconsequential game to England.
If you ask me, we’d begun to expect that we’d be in the World Cup. You know how it is, big names in big clubs. They’ve seen it all before, played in the big games. We had Nigerians in Chelsea, Arsenal, as well as clubs in France, Italy, Germany and Spain. By the time it dawned that we might be sitting on the sidelines cheering other teams in germany, it was too late. Suddenly, everyone woke up. They sacked the coach, and started playing well. But it was too late.
I saw the game against Algeria, the last game in our qualifying group. It was a goal fest, but it wasn’t enough. I can’t remember, but I think all Angola had to do was draw their game, and they did. During the African Nations cup, we huffed and puffed and finally earned our bronze medals. But that’s not getting us to Germany, boys! Didn’t you realise that earlier in the qualifying stages?
Maybe we’ll do a France. Remember them? They weren’t in the USA ’94, but look what happened in ’98. Mind you, the cup was held in their country then. But South Africa might just be close enough for us.
In the meantime, who should I support? Not Angola. Sour grapes there I’m afraid. Togo … our neighbours? That’d be a wasted vote, … sorry boys. Maybe I’ll just support Brazil. You know, like those Manchester United supporters who don’t know where Manchester is on the map, but who expect their club to win everything.
By the way, thanks to the Ecuadorians for restoring my faith in the unfancied team. That’s what Nigeria did against Spain in 1998. Maybe I should support Ecuador now. And you never know. The Chelsea chequebooks may soon be waving in the face of some Ecuadorian … or … perish the thought … some Angolan? No no no!