By Paul Bassey
He is the latest thing to happen to the world cup. Vincent Enyeama that is. I predict and strongly too that his days at Israel are numbered. With Messi, Maradona and the world media trumpeting his exploits, even the sky will not be his limit. That is why I read with so much contentment his opinion that Argentina should be relegated to the past.
Yes Argentina has come and gone. Greece stares us in the face and that, is the future of our world cup. To continue to dwell on Argentina will be very myopic. Argentina is past tense. What do we do against a Greek team that also has its back on the wall, one that knows defeat will signal the end of their world cup dream?
The last minutes of their match against South Korea, the Greeks did not present themselves as a very bad side. They tended to match the Asians but lacked the finishing power to make hay. Against Nigeria, it will beÂ a case of he who is down fearing no fall.
For Vincent to retain his current rating we are also expecting a superlative performance against Greece. This could translate to pressure on the Nigerian defenceÂ calling on VincentÂ Â to the rescue. So, Eyeama relax, get out of the headlines. Let the pressure be on your opposite number, and may he not perform as well as you. Amen.
Already,Â there are talks of retaining Lagerback.Â Too soon such decisions, too self defeating.Â He still has the world cup ahead of him and it will be too hasty to award him a blank cheque based on the result of one match in which the boys knew they had to win and rose to the occasion.
He should earn his spurs against Greece, wipe out South Korea and get into the second round. His accolades will come, if he does not only get to the quarter final which we are yet to achieve, but ventures into the semis which no African country has dared.
Still on Lagerback, can someone tell him to be of good behavior? Not shaking the outstretched hand of colleague even in painful defeat amounts to ungentlemanly conduct. Yes there is no FIFA rule that says coaches and managers must exchange pleasantries at the end of the match, yet while pursuing victory we must not lose sight of the basic fact that football will remain a sport and its primary motto is fair play.
AFRICA: Played five, lost three
If there was any weak opposition, on paper for
any of the African teams, it was Japan.
Nobody doubted the fact that the most decorated of all the African countries, six qualifications, one quarter final placing in 1990, was favourites to beat Japan. Alas it was not to be.
Hondaâ€™sÂ header put paid to the Camerounians and I donâ€™t envy Etoâ€™o and his colleagues one bit. Roger Milla will be at the head of a bitter media that will tear them to shreds, from Yaounde, Douala to Nkongsamba wondering whether it is Denmark or Holland that they will beat when they could not master Japan.
Tomorrow, Cote Dâ€™Ivoire flies the final first round flag . Today, a record of played five, drew one and lost three, is to say the least, not good enough for Africa.