By Onochie Anibeze
The world has been fed with all sorts of stories on the 2018 World Cup that went to Russia and the 2022 World Cup hosting right that Qatar won.
England have championed the campaigns against the hosting right winners. England bidded and lost. Lately, the attacks on Russia have reduced but Qatar is still under fire. I’m sure that if England, for example, won the 2018 bid, they would not be breathing down on Qatar the way they do at the moment. That would have pacified them. I feel it’s a case of ‘it must be me.’
The campaigns have ranged from allegations of corruption to weather factors. Summer in Qatar will be too hot and winter time will disrupt the league in Europe and affect marketers in America. Only last week, the story was that construction work will kill many people.
We are waiting for the impending calamity. Qatar has become a pariah state because they won the bid to host the World Cup. But it’s only in their own estimation. That is the good thing going for Qatar. The world is not one or two countries. They want fifa to cancel the rights awarded to Qatar. The campaign is on. Fifa must be careful.
If Qatar made presentations to fifa and to the rest of the football world and the fifa executive members voted for them based on their presentations and government guarantee to deliver a memorable World Cup, why these campaigns? I think that it’s time everybody move on.
If those bellyaching that a small country won the hosting rights can prove allegations of corruption we will all support them. But if not, they should realise that we are talking about the World Cup and not European Cup or England Cup if there’s anything like that.
I’m yet to hear or read about such campaigns from Asia, Africa, Latin America, many parts of Europe etc. It is the World Cup, for God’s sake. And those who follow the game are aware of the policy to take the World Cup to other ‘areas’ and not just Europe and America.
Fifa does that now to popularise the game globally. If they considered only the football culture and development, South Africa might not have won the right to host the global event that they did with style. But do you remember the acrimony from those now calling hellfire on Qatar at the time South Africa was announced the host of 2010 World Cup? Didn’t South Africa put them to shame?
That’s what I would like Qatar to do at the end of 2022. They should be able to host a befitting World Cup during summer or winter, whichever period fifa opts for.
They should be able to host a unique World Cup, one which fans could watch two matches in a day. The country is small and I hear a fast train could take fans from one stadium in one city to another stadium in another city within one hour. That will be interesting.
Let Qatar record many firsts so that fifa would be happy that they awarded the right to them and may consider other small countries in future.
What matters is the ability to host a great show. If Qatar is capable of doing that and demonstrated it to the inspectors who voted for them and did so without fear or favour, then let peace reign for us to look forward to a great spectacle in Qatar in 2022.
That Ethiopia falls!
Ethiopia played conservatively for the greater part of the game when we met them at the last Nations Cup in South Africa. They closed up the game by playing about eight players behind the ball. The game dragged on clumsily, apparently in accordance with their initial game plan. Eagles needed to win to qualify for the next round after drawing with Burkina Faso and Zambia.
Pressure was on Nigeria. They attacked and attacked but couldn’t make hay. The chances were not even close and Eagles appeared to lack the strategy to change things. Ethiopians had become more confident and appeared to have contained the Eagles. And in the last 20 minutes they felt that they could beat Nigeria. They then became adventurous, hoping to surprise Nigeria.
They tried to attack. It backfired. In two counter attacks when they opened up the game, hoping to score, Victor Moses made brilliant runs that resulted into a red card and two penalties. He scored both and Nigeria won. I simply crave your indulgence to play back that match and analyse it professionally and see how difficult it was for the Eagles.
Sylvanus Okpala, in three different interviews, described it as their toughest match in South Africa.
I’m, therefore, surprised that many Nigerians, including some so-called technocrats who should know better, have written off Ethiopia, predicting an easy ride in the last qualifier. I hope that Stephen Keshi is not listening to them. I hope the NFF will not sleep on the last day. I’m happy that Keshi is not among those writing off Ethiopia. He should not be influenced by them.
The players should not be influenced into taking it easy. The trip to Ethiopia will not be easy and I support those who have suggested acclimatising in Kenya for two or three days before the game. This is my contribution to those who matter in the business of qualifying Nigeria for the 2014 World Cup.