Monthly Archives: July 2010

And The Biggest Of Them All!

Now that the WC has finally ended, i guess we can move on to more pressing but definitely not bigger sporting matters.

But something must be said of the end of the tournament, the final that is. Now I am not one to recommend or even condone violence even (yes even!) in the face of extreme provocation but surely we must see where the Dutch are coming from.

As a team you find yourself up against what is without a shred of doubt the best midfield in the world and you are stuck with players like De Jong and van Bommel, what are you to do?

Contrary to what people (well, most journalists) were suggesting after the match, the game plan of the Dutch wasn’t to kick them off the park, or the pitch in this case. But rather they were trying to replicate what the Inter team accomplished in CL semis last season against Barcelona.

That is to close down the space between the Spaniards and stop them from playing those their cute little passing triangles that make you want to scream: WILL YOU JUST TAKE A SHOT AND STOP TORTURING US AND YOUR OPPONENTS?????????? PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHOOT SOMEBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!

So why did said plan fail horribly? Simple! Van Bommel is no Cambiasso! Neither does De Jong play on the same footballing planet as Javier Zanetti.

But one thing that really irks me is the self-righteousness of journalists and pundits alike in condemning the tactics used by the Dutch when the same people see absolutely nothing wrong when the Blackburns and Boltons of this world kick a club like Arsenal, for example, all over their cabbage patch of a field.

It is all fine and dandy when it is pesky Frenchmen and Croatians being kicked, but when it is nimble footed Spaniards, suddenly a righteous storm breaks out.

While on the subject of Spain, what might supposedly be the likeliest biggest transfer of the season might be the probable transfer of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona. Note the number of adjectives of uncertainty I used in the last sentence!

The reason being that I don’t that think that this transfer will take place, well at least now because firstly I don’t think Barca can raise the kind of money required to prise him from the steely clutches of Arsene Wenger.

Secondly, I think Cesc might have had an epiphany of what his Barca career might be like if he moved now. No, I don’t mean the news that former Arsenal player and idol Thierry Henry has left Barcelona to go to the MLS to play for the New York Red Bulls.

But rather as Cesc sat on the bench and watched the 7 or 8 Barca players playing for Spain construct teeny-weeny isosceles triangles around the pitch, the thought must have sped through his mind like an Arsenal counterattack. The thought that maybe, just maybe this might be his view of the Nou Camp pitch.

Another reason why the supposedly biggest transfer will not happen is because the biggest transfer has already taken place and for once it didn’t happen in football.

On Fri, the 9th of July, LeBron James the best basketball player right now, announced he is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join forces with fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at the Miami Heat next season in the hope of winning an elusive NBA championship.

For all basketball illiterates reading this, let me provide a little background. You see LeBron James is the Lionel Messi of basketball. Not only is he the best player but he is one of those few players who can carry on a team on his back on the way to a championship.

But incredibly, he has been unable to do that in the past 7 years with the Cavaliers. Which is why he is leaving to join the Miami Heat to form what could be called a ‘galactico’ team with Wade and Bosh.

Because basketball is one of those sports where a single player can have a tremendous impact on a team, I suspect that this team would be much more successful than the previous ‘galactico’ project under the previous and now present Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez in the 2000’s.

Strange how we could let a big story pass us by because we insist on living in a football insulated world.

A Thousand Apologies!!!

Apparently our GJ is not stupid, at least not as much as I alluded to in my previous post. And apparently he has a Facebook fan page on which the comments about his last week decision to withdraw the national teams from all competitions for two years apparently convinced to reverse the same decision. Or so he said

I will not mention in this post about how I think that this is just a face-saving reason. And about how i think the real reason is that the Presidency has now had time to weigh the decision and realized that the consequences are considerable and perhaps not the best with the elections just around the corner.

Nor will I say anything about the FG maybe thinking that they have milked enough political goodwill out of the decision and that a reversal might lead to more milking.

No, I would not. It’s not my place to do that.

What I would rather want to do in this blog is to offer my sincere apologies. Not to GJ or anyone in the FG. But to others who might still think that our leaders should be immune from insults and criticism, irrespective of whether they have done anything to deserve or not.

Oh! I remember the good old days. When prices low, children respected elders and politicians were noble. I remember the days when a mere mention of the name Schillaci (remember him?) brought fresh memories of the ’90 WC.

Which brings to this present WC. Right now as type this the semi final between Germany and Spain is still 270 minutes away but I am going to stick my head out and predict a Germany despite what Paul the Octopus thinks

I mean, what does an cephalopod know about football? I don’t care if it has predicted right the last German victories. I’m going against the octopus on this one

And it is not just because I think the German defence and counter attacking ability will be too strong for the Spaniards. Or that I think Carlos Puyol will be caught out for the first German goal. Maybe a little with the fact that I’m rooting for this German team because I said that I have a funny feeling about them earlier on this blog or I have a funny feeling about them because I’m rooting for them to win it all. I’m confused.

But what is clear to me in my mind is that I’m going against the octopus I know I am an octopus, any octopus at that. I don’t care if has four brains, my one brain is better than the sum of its brains, it has to be!

And if I am wrong and the octopus is right? Then I think I still have some apologies left over!

My President Is Stupid!

When we meet someone for the first time, we always wonder what kind of person that someone is. What does he do for a living? Where does he live? What makes him tick? Why does he walk with that limp? What is that mark on his arm? Has he been convicted of any crime? Doesn’t he look like a paedophile?

And then we find out something about him that maybe we should have noticed before. Something that only shines through the chinks of the facade that is his outward personality. And the reason we never noticed it before is that, of course, the true worth of a man only comes out when he faced with a tough and possibly unpopular decision. Or something like that!

And then that person is found out, in a manner of speaking. And exposed for who he really is and nothing is ever the same anymore and we can’t go back to just being normal around that person.

If you haven’t figured who I’m referring to in this roundabout way, it’s not your fault. It could be anybody or everybody in the world. But right now, the description fits our beloved president who from henceforth will be known as GJ.

Even if you lived under a rock, or inside a rock, by now you would have heard of the inane decision by GJ to suspend Nigeria from participating in international football competitions for two years. It is not one of my hobbies to insult leaders, particularly political leaders but I’m willing to make an exception in this case.

And it is not the stupidity of it all that astonishes me at all but rather the groundswell of public opinion that is building in favour of his decision to retrograde the development of football in Nigeria. But first to the stupidity of the decision.

His faceless Special Adviser Ima Niboro (what kind of name is that?) said the reason for the withdrawal from international football was “to enable Nigeria to reorganise its football” What kind of stupid reason is that? It’s like when your car breaks down almost every morning on your way to work and instead of going to the mechanic to get the car fixed, you decide that the best course of action would be to stay away from work while you strategize on the best way to solve your problems. Asinine isn’t it?

Now, I’m not trying to hold fort for the NFF, I wouldn’t hold fort for anyone, But I am speaking this way simply because I know that our footballing problems (and i recognize that there are serious problems) go far beyond the NFF and are simply symptomatic of a dysfunctional nation.

I mean if banning was the answer then why don’t we apply it to other sectors of the country. The refineries are not working properly? Let’s ban operations there for two years “to enable Nigeria to reorganise its refineries”! The roads are bad? Let’s ban all vehicles from the roads for two years “to enable Nigeria to reorganise its roads”! The hospitals are theatres of death? Let’s ban all patients from the hospitals for two years “to enable Nigeria to reorganise its hospitals”! The power sector is not delivering on the government promises? Let’s ban all power stations from operating fro two years “to enable Nigeria to reorganise its power sector”!

Now why does the banning solution sound dim-witted? Is it because it is easier said than done when it is not football or because it is harder to score cheap political points with it? Or maybe because banning doesn’t solve anything and that it is still possible to conduct repairs on a system without shutting it down. Either way, it is now easier to recognize the decision for what it is; populist, self-serving and ultimately political.

There is a long history of countries that have come through a football drought as it were, but never has any country done so by staying away from competitions simply because it negates the very purpose of improving the fortunes of a national team.

Let’s take the French for example. After the debacle of the ’94 WC non-qualification, the new coach Aimé Jacquet didn’t throw the entire team into the dustbin. He rather brushed up the useful players like Didier Deschamps, Laurent Blanc, Emmanuel Petit, Marcel Desailly, and Bixente Lizarazu from the team that failed to reach the 1994 WC and merged them with youngsters like Lilian Thuram, Zinédine Zidane, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Claude Makélélé, and David Trezeguet to form what was ultimately a WC winning side.

But the instructive thing about the French story is the the youngsters were almost all from the Clairefontaine National Football Institute which is the national association football centre and is one of the twelve elite academies of France. Clairefontaine was established in 1988 and is arguably the finest football academy in the world and continues to churn out talented French youngsters like Abou Diaby, Nicolas Anelka, Louis Saha, William Gallas, Hatem Ben Arfa, Gabriel Obertan and Sébastien Bassong.

Now if only our GJ was smart enough to know that this route is a sure way to footballing success!

I don’t want to even think about the eventual and inevitable FIFA ban because I feel that my worst fears would be confirmed. That Nigeria would be banned for more than the two years and would miss the WC in Brazil. And so goes another generation of footballers who never get to shine in the green-white-green! Must I remind you of ’96 ban that denied the Olympic winning team of featuring in two NCs (Nations Cup). Who knows how many NCs we could have won by now, instead of the miserly two?

There are three elements to any successful team; the right players, the right coach and of course the right administrators. Have any two of these three and you might have a chance but deciding to focus on remedying only one surely is folly of the highest order.

And so for the next couple of years, all that is left to excite and unite us as a people is the latest stories of how the latest corrupt politician was arrested, charged to court and released on bail to spend the rest of his life delaying his case from the comfort of his posh sitting room until a new government comes into power and the case is swept under the plush Persian rug, forgotten, disinterests the new government or goes missing. The case file, that is.

I don’t really care if I get into trouble for this post. I have nothing to live for anymore. My Super Eagles is dead!