By Patrick Omorodion
Whenever we seem to be on the right track in our thinking and actions, some people, out of personal glory, want to throw spanners into the works and in the process cause the derailment of a worthy cause.
At a time the Abuja National Stadium went into disrepair as a result of poor maintenance, the Super Eagles were almost homeless until the governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke and his good citizens came to their rescue, providing the U.J. Esuene Stadium as their base for both the 2013 Nations Cup and 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
The Stadium, though of medium capacity compared to the Abuja Stadium, was always filled to capacity on each match day with the spectators providing the electrifying ambiance which the players really needed to overcome their opponents.
Unlike in Lagos where fans easily turn against the Eagles when they are under-performing or yet to raise their game or in Abuja where fans are not only always scanty but indifferent to the Eagles performance good or bad, Calabar fans are true students of late Ernest Okonkwo who preaches to fans to always cheer their team to motivate them into scoring rather than react to the impulse of a goal scored.
In Calabar, the fans cheer on end irrespective of whether the Eagles have scored or trailing their opponents. A good example was the encounter against the Harambee Stars who led 1-0 with only a couple of minutes left.
Rather than boo or remain indifferent like their Lagos or Abuja counterparts, those disappointed just left the stadium but majority of them who had faith in the team stayed on and continued to cheer until Nnamdi Oduamadi pulled the chestnut out of the fire with the last ditch equaliser that gave the Eagles hope.
With the final second qualifier to be decided in the country a couple of weeks away, the powers that be are rumoured to be tinkling with the idea of taking the match to Abuja because, according to them, the stadium is now ready or matches and most astonishingly, to allow President Goodluck Jonathan join in cheering them to victory.
For goodness sake, if one may ask, how many of the Eagles matches decided at the Abuja National Stadium has President Jonathan gone to watch and cheer the team? Why must it be this one now? If truly he wants to cheer them this time around, may we beg him to join the party in Calabar to do so since the Canaan City has proved a ‘fertile’ ground for the team.
Let us not in trying to massage the ego of some top government officials, throw the World Cup ticket that is almost within our grasp. I know from the bottom of my heart that our football loving president would not want to go down in history as the one who helped his ‘eye-service’ aides to truncate the dream of a World Cup appearance in 2014.
Another plot against Keshi
It is like we are in a season of rumours. Another rumour making the rounds is that the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, may not have forgiven Super Eagles Head coach, Stephen Keshi and still plotting to oust him whether we qualify for Brazil 2014 or not.
And how do they want to do this? A grapevine source hinted that they may have recruited a Nigerian football agent in Europe to the hatchet job by instigating FIFA to sanction Keshi over his alleged racist remarks against stop-gap coach of Malawi, Tom Sainfiet.
FIFA has already queried Keshi through the NFF and the coach has answered the query, reiterating his earlier stance that he did not racially abuse the Malawian coach but only defended his team from a well worked out distraction heading into the crucial game.
The plot is that once Keshi is fined and or banned from the team’s bench for a couple of matches including the two legged final play-off, the NFF would then find an alibi to do away with him, pleading a case of embarrassment to Nigeria. That is the script and Nigerians should ‘shine’ their eyes and stop this wicked plot to scuttle the revival of Nigeria’s football through Keshi.
NFF fumbles again
The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF can’t stop fumbling. This time with the just concluded Federation Cup in Lagos. The Cup presentation was an eyesore and nightmare for photo-journalists. That is small considering the blunder in awarding the top scorer of the competition to a wrong player. When corrected by one journalist, Ojeikere Aikhojie who followed the competition very well, he was labelled as usual as not writing with facts.
Astonishingly, the NFF awarded the said player a goal scored during a penalty shoot-out after the game ended goalless. Haba NFF, do goals scored during shoot-outs count for highest goal scorer award? May be it is a new rule FIFA is yet to unfold to the world.