BENIN High Chief Oyiki Obaseki (he warns that Jackson is off his names) must have been startled by the moral questions his statement on that the last minute precocity of Zamfara United’s scorers brought to the last day of the Nigerian Premiership.
Two sad endings to the League were the death of the Bayelsa United skipper Abel Tabor few hours after he led his team to the title. Armed robbers killed him. Many are forgetting the death which keeps matters of insecurity in our minds.
Still trapping the headlines is the modest 9-0 score line that Zamfara posted against Kaduna United.
I call it modest because a precedent was set last year when Akwa United remained in the top flight after trouncing neighbours Calabar Rovers 13-0. Zamfara should have actually tried to break that record.
Why are we complaining so bitterly? Why was the reaction to the Akwa United result more muted? Are the issues different? Do the two incidents have any relationship?
I guess they do. A moral question (not treating the Akwa United case properly) became an immoral question. It seems that it has ascended to immortality, undying and unwilling to go away.
Something was done when Akwa United posted a result that set a league record, equally a record for disrepute. Thirteen goals were needed to keep them in the Premiership they got them.
From the look of things, Zamfara would have done more if their situation required more than nine goals. All these are leading to somewhere. ChiefÂ Oyiki admitted that the League could not punish Akwa United because there was no proof of match fixing.
He sounded as if he was tempted to reward the team for a prolific performance. I wonder why he did notmake a dance and song of the record. Why did he deny Akwa United its league record, if there was no proof? Was Akwa United therefore regarded as guilty as unproved?
Who was supposed to produce the evidence? What was supposed to be the evidence? How many goals did Akwa United score in the regular season? Was the performance consistent with its season’s results? Could it have performed this magic against a team that was not a neighbour, in the North West?
The issue of a good neighbour is important. Kaduna United, in a way is also Zamfara’s neighbour, coming from the same geo political zone, and was more amenable to keep our team in the League.
At the end of the season, the performance of most teams dip. There are injuries, loss of form, fatigue and lack of motivation. How was this team able to save its best result for the last?
Probes are no longer enough. The regulations on match fixing must be firm and fixed. The Nigeria Football League must have an unassailable definition of match fixing to punish the offenders.
While we dither over issues, nature has a way of imposing natural justice to decide matters that men (sometimes women) have refused to treat, for reasons that are too obvious to merit further space.
Akwa United never knew about natural justice until now.
PS: A vicarious victim of the 9-0 saga is Akwa United which leaves the Premiership. I do not think it has the guts to complain after its unbroken 130 record. Zamfara overtook Akwa United by a goal difference to avoid relegation. Without winning 9-0 in its last game, Zamfara’sÂ goals average in 37 previous games was 94 goal. I think this issue is an immortal question, it would not go away, quickly, quietly or quaintly.
Eagles As Team USA
IT is becoming difficult for me to watch football. I cannot stop wondering when the Super Eagles can play with the heart and might of the likes of Team USA. Time was when we all scoffed at the mention of the USA in football. I watched them beat Spain 2-0 in the FIFA Confederation Cup semi final and it was clear the team feared no foes and had a coach who had studied Spain, as he said days before the game, and players who were highly motivated to break Spain’s 35game winning streak.
The confidence of the Americans was outstanding. The quality of their play compared with that of the best teams in the world. They intimidated Spain and if the jerseys were switched, most people would have mistaken the USA for Spain. In the final there was no difference as they battled Brazil losing 3-2 gallantly.
Any critical observer would have noticed the improvement in the Bafana Bafana, the South African team. Without a chance going into the competition, it clubbed to the final, gave Brazil frightening moments in the semi-final which it lost 1-0 in the dying minutes through a free-kick and acquitting itself well in the third place game, before losing 3-2 to Spain.
Where do these leave the Super Eagles heading to in the 2010 World Cup? It is obvious that the opposition is not only global, but continental. The displays of South Africa and Egypt, 2-0 winner over Italy should make the Eagles realise that they have more work to do contrary to thoughts that qualifying for the World Cup was something spectacular.