By Paul Bassey
Time apt enough to celebrate the demolition of the Mexican U-17 squad by the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria.
This is a team that has always given us hope, hope that if we play our cards well, the next ten years of our football will flourish courtesy the months of hard work that Manu Garba and his colleagues have put into building a team that can hold its own anywhere in the world.
Against the Mexicans, caution was the word. Defending champions for that matter, but by the time we finished with them even FIFA had to acknowledge that this team was indeed a favourite for the title.
It may be too early to celebrate. The Brazilians and the Argentinians are still in the competition and they don’t fall easy. Early we celebrated in Morocco and ended up with a silver. Let it be said however that if you have a team that loses playing well, at this age grade, you still have cause to celebrate as long as you are guaranteed a secure future ahead.
Nigeria ranks as the best U17 playing country in the world with six appearances in the final and three crowns in the kitty. We will be looking forward to another crown but as NFF President Aminu Maigari said in his message to the boys, caution remains the word. We still have five matches to the final and we should take them as they come.
While we are at it, as I said in a mail to the team’s media officer, Ihenaecho should remember that this is a team game. His colleagues will help him pile up goals for self and country if he remembers to acknowledge them in his celebrations.
Our first goal was a direct creation of Isaac Success an assist that carries as much weight as the one who taps it in, so his first destination would have been towards Success .Boys will learn.
Now back to the topic of this week’s discourse, which I will prefer to treat as a continuation of last week’s column. All Nigerians agree that the result in Addis Ababa was a great one good enough to guarantee us a World Cup berth, yet I still came across well placed and well informed Nigerians in the round leather game who plead that the match is not over until it is over.
Take the argument from the Friendly match that has been arranged for the Eagles against Italy, barely two days after our Ethiopian tie in Calabar. Keshi argues and rightly too that with just two days it will be difficult presenting the best in a contract that requires we field eighty per cent of our best legs.
A way out will be for the Nigeria gaffer to field a second rated team against an Ethiopian team we believe cannot beat us in Calabar ( Given that we have qualified already (?)) I can hear some shouts of disapproval already.
Hon Chuks Ugwuoke, Information commissioner in Enugu State, Chief Lemmy Akakem, father of the modern Heartland FC, Pastor Umoh Bassey, chairman Akwa Ibom Scrabble Association and former player of Rovers FC of Calabar, Dr Frank Ofili ex International, Chairman Christian Chukwu member NFF Technical and Development Committee are some of Nigerians who have virtually begged that we should not treat the second leg match with kids gloves.
“Sir, your column entitled Now that we know Ethiopia was quite instructive, but I warn that we should not consider the match done and dusted. Yes we have a credible lead, but the Ethiopians I saw on Sunday have a lot of football in them and I believe they will come to Calabar prepared.
“ We must also meet them better prepared because this time we will not have any excuse not to slaughter them “ wrote Ubong Antai from Akpabuyo in Calabar.
Another Calabar based supporter Aniekan Idang says Eagles have never lacked support at the U. J Esuene stadium. “ I have read about the support given to the Ethiopians in Addis Abbaba and wants to say that the Eagles have never lacked support in Cannan land. Infact the stadium will not accommodate all of us come the return leg.
The only thing that will be missing, that has been missing is sufficient green and white jerseys and memorabilia that will go round all the fans on that day. I wish we can say that entrance to the stadium will be open only to those who come in either green and white” He said.
Talking about Green and white, I hope the victory of the Eagles and the demolition of Mexico will lay to rest, once and for all, all the noise concerning the jinx that is said to follow the white jersey.
For Adeusi, Udy, Vincent, Eddy
His reign as Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State led to the formation of a Premier league club called Ibom Stars that later metarmophosed into Akwa United. I remain grateful to Navy Captain Joseph Adeusi(Rtd) who got me and the late Christo Davies involved in making sure that AkwaIbomState got a premier league side.
This week end His Excellency will roll out drums to celebrate 60 years on mother earth. I join hundreds of his friends and well wishers to appreciate God on his behalf.
Oga, we have been told that Rice and stew will be very plenty. On Sunday we will be there, LIVE. !
Today is also the birthday of one of my angels Pastor Uduak David –Adjah. Udy, the Lord has been faithful to you and yours and will continue to be as you serve Him.
Eddy Ekpenyong, The Law Vincent Essien, this week also belongs to both of you. He will continue to uphold you, His favour will be yours for the asking. That is what the Scriptures say. Remain blessed IJN
See you next week.