By Ikeddi Isiguzo
EXPECTATIONS of our World Cup performance run on the same emotional flux that conforms to our national conduct.
We are becoming experts in expecting everything from nothing. While the debate, disgust and dubiety of the Hampshire Hotel ran its course, I became further convinced that the matters of the World Cup would cruise on steams many of us never thought about, for each World Cup is different, in case we did not know.
Once Hampshire Hotel was behind us, there must be new issues that could keep our World Cup on the headlines. Which of the other 31 countries billed for the World Cup was unable to hire its team’s apartments without the scandal dripping through the news channels? Is there further evidence that we are a special breed?
Hampshire is just one of the various flavours we are taking to the World Cup. Nobody would be in doubt that we were at the World Cup.
The records are in the making. We are the only country to prune its team to the initial 30 without the players meeting the coach or the team having a training session. We have sent forth a collection of players that we call a team.
Already the coach is pleading with the players not to conceal their injuries, a suggestion that the coach cannot detect injured players or the medical team connives with players to hide their unfitnessÂ either way the World Cup results would make the records.
If these were not laughable enough then Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, not known to be a comedian, would get you. The former Eagles player, former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Association, NFA, and a man I admire for speaking with conviction, says Lars Lagerback has a mandate to get Nigeria a semi-final slot in South Africa.
â€œWe do not see anything that can stop us from believing in the achievement of the mission if all hands are on deck. I was surprised to learn that Lagerback is already feeling that we cannot make the semi-final and I want to reassure him that he should believe in the ability of his players to deliver. By the way, he said that we can make it to the semi-final and we still hold him by his word when we gave him the job.
â€œWe in the NFA strongly believe in our players to rise up to the challenge and that is the belief that Lagerback should make the semi-final target realistic. That is the least we expect from him at the World Cup. Nothing more, nothing less,â€ said Chief Ogunjobi, who is the Chairman of NFA’s Technical Committee.
Why should there be doubt about the players’ ability, under the supervision of a world class coach? Was a semi-final slot not crafted into the coach’s contract? Are there no penalty clauses?
The uncertainty that Chief Ogunjobi’s â€œnothing more, nothing lessâ€ represents is a more source of concern for me than how the Eagles would fare at the World Cup. Chief Ogunjobi knows enough about the contracts for him to be threatening to invoke the penalty clauses if Lagerback defaults. My assumption is that there is a contract with such clauses.
We have moved from â€œblaming shiftingâ€ to â€œblame sharingâ€. Chief Ogunjobi understands the concept. The job of his Committee ended when it gave Lagerback the job. The best the Technical Committee would do now is convincing Lagerback to believe in the players: an impossibility since Chief Ogunjobi wants â€œall hands on deckâ€ and we are talking about football.
NIGERIA should not for any reason be denied the records it ld set at the World Cup. I learnt the National Assembly is considering an early â€œsummerâ€ break so that members can attend the World Cup. At the last countÂ excluding supporting staffÂ that would be a-469 mixture of 109 distinguished senators and 360 honourable members, barring numbers lost to certain circumstances, including disputed seats.
Ours is an imitative democracy. The 36 State Houses of Assembly would send their membersÂ I am still tallying the numbers. Nobody should forget the 774 local government councils whose members must have the World Cup experience to help them â€œdeliver the dividends of democracy to our peopleâ€.
Deliberately, I excluded the Supporters Club because even FIFA would not permit the World Cup without the Nigerian supporters.
Is it therefore fair for anyone to discountenance Nigeria ‘s contributions to the world and its Cup?
THE Sports Writers Association of Nigeria is getting busier by the day. It is organising a seminar on the World Cup in Lafia (if you do not know that is the capital of Nasarawa State ) next week to discuss the 2014 World Cup, yes, the next World Cup. I will return to my impressions of that outing subsequently.
Another matter that has held SWAN’s attention is the election into the Nigeria Olympic Committee. SWAN has written petitions to the International Olympic Committee, IOC, and Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, ANOCA.
The avoidable embarrassment from the NOC imbroglio has refused to go away. It is no longer possible to remember what the issues are as new ones (or old ones in new garments) surface daily.
My prediction is that before the 2016 Olympic Games, the NOC election would have held. Everyone would have exhausted himself by then.
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