And I might sound unpatriotic, but who gives a
I've watched, adored even followed the Super chickens actively for the past twelve years, I know it aint a figure to brag about. But, I was just an ordinary 7-year old ball boy, with a deep sense of admiration for the National team (irrespective of the level) during the famous U-20 Fifa organised youth tournament, popularly known as the "Nigeria 99" Youth Championship. I still cherish those moments when the Super chickens were feared and respected by their opponents - the likes of Jay Jay Okocha, Finidi George, Taribo West, Celestine Babayaro, Emmanuel Amokachi and even the still-active Portmouth striker Kanu Nwankwo and others too numerous to mention. Made the Nation proud on the pitch, not because they were super heroes, but for the simple reason that they were, and still are commited to the overall progress of the team whenever they had the priviledge of donning the symbolic green-white-green colours of their country.
A lot of water has passed through the bridge in just a decade, resulting in our new billionaire crop of stars, who are too blind to recognise the fact that Soccer gives hope to over 150 million people in the country they pretend to represent.
Where did the discipline go? My first lesson at the football academy had a lot to do in respect to; determination, commitment and most importantly tolerance. We were made to understand "retaliatory tackles" showed the incompetence of a player. Sani Kaita is an idiot - make no mistake about it. What the hell! This is the World Cup for crying out loud. All an experienced midfielder, who was allegedly provoked could do was activate the panic button of doom, by getting himself sent off for an unnecessary retaliatory kick at the sidelines to a Greek player, who might have being frustrated with the current score-line.
*Nigeria were in shaky control (1-0) of the match proceedings before the unfortunate incident.
The Super chickens failed to show an iota of urgency and to be exact the Nigerians were outplayed, outmarked, undone and manhandled by the impressive and spirited Greeks, who have now banished their World Cup blues in style.
What a great statement of intent! I must admit Greece deserved to win, unlike their African counterpart who must dance to the harsh tune of reality as the almost inevitable looks set to happen.
Lets face it, we have established stars who'd rather die on the pitch for their respective clubs, than sacrifice a paltry 90 minutes of their 'busy doing nothing' time for the benefit of team glory, they were over reliant on their impressive goal keeper Vincent Enyeama, whose best was simply not good enough to keep his team's slim hopes of stealing the show alive.
Enyeama was by far the best man on the pitch. He did his best to keep the score-line at the barest level, what a pity! The poor keeper's defence failed to come to his rescue when he needed them the most.
*An unlucky deflection gifted our opponents the equaliser, followed by an obvious mistake from the defensive point of view, which dealt the team' hopes of snatching at least a point, a cruel blow as the better side deservedly carried the day.
A lot of us have being awake for the last six hours or more, anticipating what could/should have been our easiest match in this tournament, only to be harshly repaid. No thanks to another lacklustre performance from our beloved Super chickens. This time they were beaten fair and square by a more ambitous and rather average team.
Are we jinxed? or how can due explanation be given for our double World Cup failure?
Precisely 8-years ago, we were drawn in a group that comprised of; Argentina, Sweden and England. Of course, we didn't qualify and it took the bravery of a young 19-year old (Enyeama), who was playing his first competitive game for Nigeria against England in the last group match to earn a point for the team.
There's something else bugging me, and it's pleading for attention! This might seem childish: We lost to Argentina eight years ago by a lone goal - and Heinze ensured the same scenario repeated itself last week.
We scored first against Sweden, I still remember the neatly converted effort from then #1 striker Julius 'the wonder'
Aghahowa. The truth is Sweden recovered in time to score twice effectively killing our slender hopes - Greece did the same today.
And an impressive draw against England was the only tangible reward for our troubles at the Mundial - this time we must beat S. Korea and as usual rely on help to qualify.
I still hate the present Super Chickens! But there's still hope. Although we basically played
shit, the possibility of qualifying still exists thanks to Argentina's convincing win.