By Paul Bassey, in South Africa
The other day, I read a very interesting piece that had to do with Lukeman saying he owes a lot to Coach Lagerback without whom he would not have been in the world cup squad.
I concede it to him, though I wonder what manner of question must have led to his answer. Before you start making Lukeman to thank God, he must have done something spectacular. For instance, if Vincent Enyeama, ( That name again ) comes out to say that but for Lagerback he would not have been in the team, one would be in a good position to appreciate what a loss that would have been.
I am still waiting for Lukeman to justify his inclusion in that team.I want to extend the argument further, given another story I read credited to the Eagles to the tune that they â€œ..lost a lot under coach Amoduâ€. Hearing all these distractions, one will be tempted to think that either the Eagles have qualified for the world cup semi final or have flown home with the cup.
The other side of the argument comes as a criticism for defeat. That is to say after being knocked out, the Eagles will now come out to blame Amodu for whatever they believe his sins are or were.
As it is, none of the above has happened, that is why those boys should be advised to be focused and forget about views that are not relevant to the issues on the ground. Maybe I should also be accused of praising the boys to high heavens for losing against Argentina. Maybe I should not have forgotten that no matter how well you play, goals decide a football match.
I did say that because there was so much talk about Messi and Argentina, the boys came in fired up, determined to make a difference and it worked. Are they still in that frame of mind? Are they aware that Greece can also be stubborn and unyielding? Have they been told that though Cameroun was better than Japan, that goal was key and it stood?
I believe that by now the ceremonials are over. Mr President, the governors, senators, politicians and business men are back to Nigeria. I believe that by now, the team is on a business session. If the opening match against Argentina was key, the Greece confrontation is â€˜keyerâ€™, the ultimate decider, one in which even a draw ( God forbid) will not be considered good enough.
Free State Stadium
Eagleâ€™s next match against Greece is at the Free State stadium, Mangaung in Bloomfontein. The 45,000 capacity edifice is home to Bloomfontein Celtic, the green and white clad team whose star player is Nigeriaâ€™s Prince Olomu. When I visited Bloomfontein the locals did promise maximum support for the Eagles and other African teams so you can expect not only massive support, but one that comes in green and white.
Yet that is where Japan beat Cameroun. What has that got to do with us?Â That it is only whatever happens on the field that will count.
Kudos Cote Dâ€™Ivoire
The Elephants gave us something to cheer about against Portugal, complete with Ronaldo. Far from the disappointing team that was chased out of the Nations cup in Angola, Tuesdayâ€™s squad gave a good account of itself, ready to give Portugal a run for their money to decide who follows Brazil into the second round. And, was I happy to see Didier in action?
The return of South Africa God, may they win. Please.
See you tomorrow.