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Al Ahly as metaphor for success

By Paul Bassey
Before jumping into this week’s column I will  take space to write about last week, a week in which readers reacted in their hundreds, to “ Much Ado About A Foreign Technical Assistant”further proving that when the topic is football, Super Eagles, Keshi, Nigerians can be passionate to a fault.

Last week was a further manifestation that most of us do not know the difference in function between the Technical Committee ( Of which I am a member ) and the Technical Department of the Nigeria Football Federation.

Last week, reactions were as varied as they were interesting. I wish I could find space to publish all of them. I do remember however that of Benedict Egbuchunam who reminded me that contrary to my assertion, Keshi had indeed gone to the World Cup….as a player.

I remember the text of 08030650159 who said the Technical Committee must guarantee that I.K.Uche is in the list to the world cup while 08033018284 disagrees saying saying Keshi “ cannot sacrifice team discipline and cohesion on the altar of sentiments, experience or form….”

Victor Ohiosuma wrote in from Benin saying Kalika had no effect on Siasia, just as Chukwuma Dioka in Owerri took out a lengthy text to say that the issue of an assistant is too late in the dayand all that Keshi needs are friendly matches. Timothy Osadolor in Obudu Cross River State wants Keshi to “descend from his high horse and listen to the voice of reason. This NFF has been more than supportive. There is no coach that succeeds who fights more than four of his players at the same time. The problem may therefore not be with the players…..”

I can go on and on………

I ended last week”s piece by recounting an ordeal I encountered in the hands of some of our airlines and asked for reactions……I got a lot, from Nigerians who had gone through the same experience and regrettably too. Angela Ajuntomobi wrote “…Sir, most annoying is the Airlines feeling that its okay once they have texted you, regardless how they must have messed up your itinerary”

Can you put this side by side with the reaction of 08037189494 who told me “…..Buy an helicopter and stop complaining. Ask Neymar for the price” Don’t laugh, because that will mean trivializing an important issue! …….i wish I had Neymar’s number.

Last Monday was also the day I departed for Egypt for the CAF Super Cup between legendary club Al Ahly and CS Sfaxien of Tunisia. I got to Egypt to discover that Ahly was in a terrible shape. After the retirement of Aboutreika, Mohammed Barakat and a few others with a new coach in tow Ahly uncharacteristically had suffered three defeats in a row in the   ten week domestic league, the last in the hands of Gouna, and were lying third on the log.

It was this poor form that CS Sfaxien winners of the CAF Confederation Cup hoped to capitalize on in hammering the CAF Champions league winners even at home in the legendary 70,000 seater Cairo Stadium.

When you think Al Ahly, you think Rangers International, Shooting Stars of Ibadan, Stationery Stores of Lagos, Raccah Rovers of Kano, Bendel Insurance of Benin……you think tradition!

While the former, 36 league titles, 35 FA Cups, 7 Egyptian Super Cups, 8 CAF Champion League trophies and 4 CAF Cup winners Cups is still holding on, Nigerians clubs have struggled to be forgotten.

It is that same tradition that ruled Supreme, Thursday when out of form Ahly fired two goals in succession through Gedo 23rd ( Will retire at the end of this season ) and Amr Gamal 53rd.

The Tunisians rallied back to reduce the tally in the 63rd through Ali MAlooul, only for the Egyptians to add the third as Gamal struck again in the 63rd minute. Sfax’s Fakhredin made it 3-2 in the 68th and we sat through a nervy but exciting final minutes that saw Ahly lift their 6th Super Cup in the history of the famous club.

The sad and annoying exit of Kano Pillars has made me write this today. Of Nigerians clubs who do not prepare adequately for continental assignments. Who do not bother about the opposition, about the climate, food and nature of the playing surface they are going to face.

Pray is it today that Pillars qualified to represent us in Africa? Did we have to wait this long to hire players, coaches and whatever, opening up avenues for baseless excuses? Have we forgotten that when Ahly won the competition last year there was no league going on in the crisis torn Egypt? I am particularly disappointed because this was a club I believed was going to go far in the competition given its pedigree and quality of personnel.

Now it is past tense and like everything Nigerian we have moved on. If Kano State, owners of the club don’t bother, can the NFF not want to know why Pillars crashed that early? Are we going to wait until the other clubs fall like it happened last year? Will that investigation not help other clubs and the country as a whole?

A THOUGHT FOR AISHA

I join thousands of Nigerians today in sparing a thought for my friend and colleague Aisha Falode who lost her only son Toba last week. I pray the good Lord consoles this distraught mother. Remember her in your prayers.

See you next wek

 


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