By Larry Izamoje
Ever got tired waking up? ItÂ Â is 7.30amÂ Thursday. I have just jumped out of bed tired, physically and mentally so. Wednesday evening, I went for the unusual dinning and stayed awake most of the night fighting back forÂ bodily goodness.
Just before the trip to the airport for the Joâ€™burg-Durban flight, Zigi,Â one of the soccer crazy helping hands at this World Cup, had taken me up on how Africa will perform on the dayâ€™s podium. South Africa was taking on France and needed no less than three goals.
Nigeria was taking on South Korea and needed a win while hoping Argentina would play Mozambique for us as we had in the qualifying series by shoving Greece aside. You recallÂ our victory in Nairobi over Kenya had meaningÂ bestowed onÂ it only because Mozambique dwarfed Tunisia.
ThenÂ filtered in a report that some members of the Super Eagles were unhappy .Gangsterism, the major ingredient for victoryÂ in a World Cup setting was on the ropes, as boxing purists say, taking a barrage of punches. NigeriaÂ was already taking the count long before the battle. Some players would not trust the powers-that-be to make good the promise to give them a part of the FIFA largesse if they crashed out. Apprehension was in the air. The talk of an appearance was palpable. These notes from the camp bothered me but I hung on to the fact that no one came out to confirm them.
AfterÂ the match, questions raised through my head like channelled water in a fountain. Again? Why do we always get it wrong? What is the best way forward? The engine of the 737-200 exported disturbing sounds as we journeyed back from Durban. I laboriously tried to recall whenÂ lastÂ I was holed up in a 200 series Boeing. It was 2.30am and what a relief as we disembarked in Joâ€™burg. It was almost 3.30am when we got to the hotel and you can tell why I was tired at 7.30am.
We were to be ready by 11am for the trip to the OR Thambo International airport .It is home coming, but not the type we envisaged going. As I made for a pack of flakes in the restaurant, Goitsemedime, one of the waitresses, observed the story my face carried and said: â€œOnly God knows why the African teams did not do wellâ€.Â I guess they were schooled on elementary soccer analysis to boost marketing in the hotel. You cannot serve food to soccer faithful without a word on the inflated round leather, I suspect they were told.
Only God knows? It appeared as the right bullet for the heartâ€™s trouble until Zigi dismissed it as the effusionÂ of a religious fanatic. Goitsemedime, he explained, means God knows and here I was hearing Goitsemedime tell me God knows. Zigi was to begin his sermon on names and words revealingÂ their meanings why asking me questions.
Sickness in Eagles
She should have told you the Super Eagles have brought Nigerians and those who love them tears (Dekeledi). WhenÂ a team plays and you see defenders trading blames as we occasionally saw in all your matches, it means Lefu (sickness) is in the team. Here in South Africa, we call some people Lerato meaning love.
If you have love one for another, you can pull together and get wonderful results. My pain is that the Africa teams should have remembered the Africa Mothudi (blacksmith) andÂ the seriousness he puts to his work in the face of fire and heat. We were givenÂ a good platform to win the World Cup on AfricanÂ soil (Siphiwe) and like your team that failed to show example, we failed to receive the gift(Mpho) with both hands.
IfÂ Nigeria had been in Cote dâ€™Ivoireâ€™s group, would it notÂ have been a whipping all through? If you could not eat Korea and Greece, how would you have fared facing Portugal and Brazil. Your light(lesedi) would have gone out more seriously. You do not play in the World Cup without a belief in yourself(Tumelo).Naledi means Star.
Who is the star in the Nigerian team? You cannot win the World Cup without a star or stars in your team. Your players were like sheep(Nku) without a shepherd. Outside the pitch, you lacked a Herman(war expert) .We read stories of the poor hotel accommodation earlier made for your team. We also heard of how your government stepped in when the football association failed in its plans to bring the team here.
Truth is: God has given us enough capacity to also know some things. That is why I tell Goitmedimene that I will never give my daughter that name. Now, you have caused me to speak using our words and names. How many did youÂ note?â€™
I told him about 15 and he said: â€œI used over 30.
You can only remember about 15? That was the problem with Nigeria. They remembered only half of the mistakes from their previous appearances at the World Cup and so did not correct a lot of things. That is why you failed to move forward.â€
You do not put a NigerianÂ down. â€œSouth Africa, too, forgot a lot,â€ I replied.
CAT AND MOUSE
I also thought of the power play of the last one year.
On May 21,2009, the the President Umaru Musa Yar Adua inaugurated the Task Force of which I am a member. In our first meeting at the State House, AbujaÂ it was agreed thatÂ we needed greater technicalÂ depth.
I recall Chief Segun Odegbami, Jay Jay Okocha, indeed us all spoke our hearts out. I still call that the best meeting of the PTF. We were beaming with enthusiasm to avoid the shame we eventually faced in South Africa.
Less thanÂ 30 minutes after the meeting, â€˜warâ€™ started. The FA felt that the PTF was set up toÂ rubbish it. The Cat and Mouse game started. We became people lined up for the Guillotine in the eyes of those the Federal Government called us to help.Â Only aÂ few things hurt more than being misunderstood. We received derogatory â€˜shotsâ€™ everywhere.
You canÂ feel why I was tired at 7.30am