By Tony Ubani
There is an uncommon synergy of oneness among all the six African flagbearers in the World Cup. All the teams speak with one voice and wish an African team to go all the way.
The South Africans who are hosting the World cup, however, seem to be divided over their loyalty between oneness and the love for Diego Maradona. Maradonaâ€™s Argentina file out on Saturday against Nigeriaâ€™s Eagles in a match that has turned many locals to bet.
On arrival at the Oliver Thambo International airport, many wished the Eagles well and offered prayers that Nigeria would be the country to soar higher with the flag of Africa. But moving further to the people, it appears that there are many faithful of Argentina because of the love of Maradona.
â€œNigeria is good but they canâ€™t face the fire-power of Maradona. He is the special one and we love and support himâ€, one local who has lost all his front teeth said. Just as we were talking, a circle had been formed with youths tipping Nigeria to win the battle.
â€œYes, I want Nigeria to win because this is Africaâ€™s World Cup. It will beÂ nice for all African teams to start on winning notesâ€, Jacob Ntema who has a good knowledge of Nigerian players said. His fears: â€œMaradona is a cult hero here in South Africa but it does not mean they would pray for him to beat Nigeriaâ€. There were fears expressed by the injury that knocked off Mikel Obi. â€œHe is a star player and I am afraid that his absence might affect Nigeria. Nigerian players used to be good in the past but they hardly make impact in their clubsâ€, another fan reasoned.
But the Eagles are bubbling with enthusiasm and have expressed the importance of rolling off the World Cup on a winning note.
â€œThe beginning is always difficult but it also determines how good or bad it would be. We are sure to begin on a good note. We realise that the Argentines have good players. We equally have good players in our fold. Weâ€™ll know who will blink first when we meet on Saturdayâ€, Kanu featuring in his third world cup appearance which no doubt would be his last said.