Monthly Archives: November 2010

MY GATEMAN’S NAME IS ADAMU!!!

As you would have rightly guessed, this post will not be about Alhaji Adamu, my office’s gateman or to put it more politically correct my office’s resident security consultant. Although, when I think about it, tabulating the ages of his wives (yes, I said wives) and children in a spreadsheet could be made to look a football league table.

But no! Rather this post is going to be about our own dear Amos Adamu, FIFA Executive member, all round Nigerian sports superintendent and presently the most beleaguered man in all of sports in all of the world.
Can we begin? From the very beginning?

Right after God said let there be light and parted the Red Sea, Amos Adamu was the Chairman for the LOC of the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship held in Nigeria, I think. And I say I think because I was quite young then and mostly followed the competition through commentary on my father’s bush radio courtesy of NEPA’s failings. Yes NEPA has always been terrible.

But I digress.

While some may say that the competition wasn’t a resounding success because the Flying Eagles exited in the quarters, let me remind you of some of the players that were introduced to the world stage courtesy of this tournament. Roque Santa Cruz, Estebian Cambiasso, Damien Duff, Simao Sabrosa, Ronaldinho, Diego Forlan, Xavi Hernadez, Seydou Keita, Mamadou Diarra and of course Pius Ikedia (yes, I said it!)

Now I’m not attempting to hold brief for Amos Adamu. In fact I wouldn’t even hold his briefcase. Which reminds me of the first time I saw Amos Adamu in person.

It was late 2005 and I was returning with my father from Abuja to Lagos. We were stuck in the departure lounge of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport, waiting for an unsurprisingly behind schedule flight, when I saw him.

He was wearing a rumpled blue babariga that looked like it came out of a bag an hour ago with a brown embroidered cap and a tattered black suitcase. The briefcase had sheets of paper peeping out from the sides and also had a broken lock that looked like the briefcase had been forced open more than a few times.
But the most remarkable thing about his appearance was the look on his face. You know that look you get from an enormous house rat when it has just been cornered in a corner in the dark and a bright torch is being pointed at it? You do, don’t you?

Now I would be the last person to say it out aloud that Amos Adamu has a rodent look about him but surely we have all thought it any of the various times he has flaunted his pockmarked face on TV.

But its also that look of seemingly helplessness and resignation that Adamu also shares with that of a rat or as that Americans like to say, a moose caught in the headlights of a fast approaching car.

There is never an excuse to indulge in corruption and far be from me to condone it but we all know Adamu is not the most corrupt man in Nigerian sports.

Now I have spent a few hours thinking of how to end this post with all the solutions to corruption in Nigerian sport or give detailed directions as to where one can purchase a magic wand to wish away all our sporting problems.

But the only sure silver bullet is the complete evisceration of not only Amos Adamu and his ilk from our sporting bodies but also of their sponsors i.e. the government. Until the sport associations are forced to seek funds from corporate bodies and they stop functioning as an instrument of government patronage, there can be no way forward for sport in Nigeria.

But who am I kidding? That would never happen.

PARK WELL!

For those of us who may not be familiar with the street slang that is also the title of this post, I can only say to you that what type of closeted, sheltered, narrow-minded life have you been living?

But no worries, I will attempt to explain what it means. You see, the slang is usually used mostly as a declarative interjection (I’m making up words here!) to order the person being addressed to go-and-sit-down, as we like to say on these shores. Especially when that someone is trying to exaggerate or just plain lying.

So every time you hear Sir Alex say that he still has the money from the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to spend but he hasn’t seen a player worth buying, you can simply retort: Park well joor!!!!!!! And so ends the lesson in urban slang etymology.

Now for some sports. The reason why an urban slang is informing the title of a post on a sport blog is that I was watching the Man Utd versus Wolves match over the weekend and was frankly astonished by the performance of a certain Korean Man Utd player. That is Ji-Sung Park for you football novices!

The astonishing thing wasn’t only that he scored the only two goals that his team scored in the match but could how actually see this player becoming the marquee player for his team.

This being a player who has been nothing more than a bit player in the squad for the past 5 years and despite what Sir Alex might say was signed with replica shirts sales and product endorsements in the Far East in mind.

So what has brought about the improvement in Park’s game? What I know about the Manchester United training program couldn’t even fill underneath my nails but I am sure spending 5 years at Carrington training ground has something to do with it.

You will to be a complete footballing dunce for your game to be unaffected by such a length of time. And judging from Park’s performances for his national team and for PSV Eindhoven, he is no fool.

So maybe the guys at Old Trafford really do know something about nurturing, well not young talent, well not that much of a talent anyway, into something that can only be qualified as, well!

In other news, the Ashes is around the corner. Yes I mean ashes, like the powdery residue left after the burning of a substance, those same ashes! But more specifically, I’m talking about the 18-monthly cricket test series between Australia and England.

And it is called the Ashes because the trophy to be won is actually an urn containing the ashes of the cricket ball used for the first test series between the countries many many years ago. Which makes one wonder what the first series was called?

So that’s all for now. I will try and provide some updates on the Ashes series and maybe some motorsport during the week

Till later.

Of All Pippo!

This post is meant be a short one so I’m just going to dive right into it.

There appears – well at least to me – to be a certain quality missing amongst footballers of nowadays. I mean a certain je ne sais quoi about the modern players.

They are all beginning to seem the same, play football the same way and even playact the same way. It’s almost like they are being pushed out from a production line with their names stamped on their jerseys as they leave the conveyor belt and then put into cardboard boxes and shipped off to clubs in far flung places.

There is no really is no way of telling them apart from they way they play. For every Cristiano Ronaldo you have a Nani, for every abundantly gifted but disappointing Dimitar Berbatov, you have an equally abundantly gifted and disappointing Zlatan Ibrahimovic. No way of telling them apart if they wore the same jersey and had the same ridiculous hairdo.

Gone apparently are the days of the archetypal footballers. Players who you could identify with a particular skill. Players who invented football moves and had moves named after them. The Panenka chip and the ‘Maldini’ sliding tackle come readily to mind.

And this thought came to me when I was watching the Champions League group stage match between AC Milan and Real Madrid at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. With Madrid leading in the second half, the Milan coach decided to bring on Filippo Inzaghi. I almost screamed at the TV “Of all people, Inzaghi! Aleghri, have you lost it”

Happily I didn’t, cause Inzaghi rescued what seemed like a sure loss with two of his trademark goals. First, he bundled the ball over the line from like 2 yards with a part of his anatomy, then he was clearly offside for the second but still finished with measured aplomb. This is a player so renowned for being on the shoulder of the last defender that Sir Alex once remarked that he must have been given birth to in an offside position!

And then the trademark celebration. Running to the corner flag and gesticulating like he has never scored a better goal or that no better goal has or will ever be scored.

Now juxtapose that with the younger players where the only place you can tell them apart is off the pitch with all their late night binge drinking and drink driving, pimped out SUVs, WAGs and assault convictions. Well that’ appears to be their own idea of a good time!

Meanwhile for Inzaghi and his ilk, a good time consists of dinner with the family and a bottle of wine afterwards. Hmm!

Which goes a long way to explain why the 37 year old is currently the all time most prolific goal scorer (with 70 goals) in European club competitions.

Take a bow Mr. Filippo ‘Pippo, Pippo, Pippo’ Inzaghi!

Where there is a will there is a Bale!

Or so the saying goes! Actually, the saying says ‘will’ instead of the Tottenham Hotspurs football star (the last time Tottenham and football star were used in the same breath must surely be when a certain David played for the Sp*rs!), but you get the idea nonetheless.

On the few occasions during the match that Bale wasn’t tearing Brazil right back Maicon a new one, I got thinking while watching that there really is no limit to what one can achieve what one can achieve with the right amount of innards.

Who would have thought a mid table English club would have the beating of the reigning champions (yes, Tottenham, it takes more than one season of finishing 4th to become one of the big boys, just ask Everton!).
Guess it says about how not too terrible a coach Mr. Harry Redknapp is. And I to call him Mr. because he is the oldest coach in the Premier League. Just like our own Garba Lawal was given the epithet Mr. during the Mali 2002 Nations Cup by the French accented television commentator most likely on accounts of age, declared or real.

You know they say respect should be given to who is deserving of it, so it’s about time we give props (like my hip hop friends say) to the Inter coach. No, not the present one; the Spanish waiter! I mean the present Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.

And yes I know he is no longer the Inter coach but it’s still his team by and large. And for them to be exposed, especially defensively, so easily by Sp*rs shows there is something they used to do last season, that is surely beyond Rafa Benitez.

Which brings to mind how adept Benitez seems to be at dismantling successfully teams slowly but surely. Before you mention that night in Istanbul, I’ll remind you that that was his first season in charge and so could not have enough time tearing apart the team to pieces.

Yes, I know it’s easy to kick a man when he is down, but Benitez just makes it easier. We always knew that man management wasn’t his forte but the one thing that he is supposed to be good at has apparently deserted him like a spurned lover.

No I don’t mean statistic filled rants at press conferences, I mean tactics! That was meant to be his strong suit but now appears to be no more like a flimsy singlet on his shoulders!

How else can one explain the tactics he used against Sp*rs? How does one justify playing four central midfielders with one striker on the wing and Eto’o upfront with no winger to counteract the pace of Bale especially as Maicon was shown incapable of doing it in the first leg?

Instead, Rafa decided on playing with a system his players couldn’t implement rather than the simple option of putting Eto’o on the right of the Inter midfield thereby helping Maicon out in defense and at the same time putting pressure on the Sp*rs left back! How could he not have seen that?

To end this post, I have decided to give an update of an American sport. Still don’t know what special name to call it but suggestions are welcome! I know many of us are not fluent with American sports, which is precisely the reason for the section of the post. So read and learn!

On Monday night the unfancied San Francisco Giants defeated the equally unfancied Texas Rangers in their home park to take the series 4-1 and clinch the World Series. That’s baseball for all you folks! This is like Kaiserslautern F.C defeating Birmingham City to win the Champions League. Improbable.

Two teams no one gave a chance at the beginning of the season but going to defeat more illustrious opponents to appear in the showpiece event of baseball.

Guess what they say is true. Where there is a will, well there is a Giant!