By Fred Fred Chukwuelobe
The Nigeria national team, the Super Eagles, last night lost to the Tunisia national team, effectively ending their quest to win AFCON. Expectedly, fans were angry. Typically, the blame game followed.
Many people reacted angrily to the video call president Muhammadu Buhari made to the team. The president was trolled on social media. From questioning why he should make such call to outrightly blaming the loss on some ‘bad luck’ that follows the president, whatever that means, fans berated the team, the president and the coach.
Some people have questioned the critics for heaping the blame on the president for making the call with one of my friends calling them (us) imbeciles. Well, while not responding directly to his criticism, let me say these:
1. Football is a passionate and an emotional game. A win elicits joyous moments. It unites us. Nobody remembers if the team is composed of one tribe. It is a national team with a win. A loss is felt widely and angrily.
2. The trolling of the president is not because many truly believed his call was why the team lost. It is a healing process for them; to vent and come to terms with the painful loss. Everybody wants to win. But we can’t win all the time.
3. The anger from fans also shows that our president is largely unpopular. What if they had beaten Tunisia by 5 goals? Would people extol the president for motivating the team to win? I guess not.
Having said that, let me appeal to those criticising the fans for critiquing the loss and blaming it on the call to allow them be. Many do not even mean what they said. They just need to heal. Allow them heal.
I almost hurt a Cameroonian back in the 90s for celebrating his country’s win against Nigeria at the National Stadium, Surulere. I looked for an object to break his head, but the whole place was well lit and I feared I’d be caught. So, I settled for Big Stout and drank six bottles to overcome the loss. I just wanted to get tipsy and forget the loss.
Now, after the anger subsided, I swore never to support the Super Eagles. ‘What if I had hurt the guy or myself’, I asked rhetorically. With that, even if the team wins or loses, e no concern me. Last night I no send.
Because we have no organised local football league, I switched over to Chelsea Football Club of London. There I can skip meals if we lose and become glutinous if we win. I can swear never to watch them if we lose, but the next game I am using one eye to peep at the television.
Once I enter London, the first place I go to is Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea, the pride of London. E shock you?
I go there not to check if somebody had stolen the roofs, but to feel cool and happy. I have also succeeded in initiating my family into the Blues Family. They adorn Chelsea T-shirts. Some of my bedsheets are in Chelsea colours.
You see what football does? Last night I put on a new Chelsea bedshit, ate dinner and still drank tea afterwards. Why? We won. I didn’t have anybody to curse or blame. Imagine if we had lost!
That’s exactly what happened last night and the president took a hit, even though I’m sure the man was busy picking his teeth and laughing at our vexation. Wetin concern am? Are we even sure he knew the Super Eagles lost?
Anyway, I’m sure by now the fans would have healed enough to continue with their lives. Lives of poverty, insecurity, corruption, confusion, operation, injustice, commotion, indiscipline and filth. I think that should worry us more than crying for a bunch of players who partied all through the night and who will ask Amaju Pinnick for their allowances, whether deserving or undeserving.
Thank God for Chief Allen Onyema, chairman/CEO of Airpeace Airlines. The Mbosi, Anambra State, born High Chief will save N50m he promised the team if they win, the N10m for each goal scored. Imagine if the Super Eagles had scored 10 more goals.
While he will be happy he saved his bucks, he certainly will also be happy the president made that call that caused the loss. Wouldn’t he? That is, if he believes the call caused the loss.
But did it?
Football is an emotional and a passionate game. That’s why one yeye Arewa group blamed the loss on ‘Biafrains’ who constitute the Super Eagles.
Just imagine such foolery. Even at that, they too are blaming somebody.
On a serious note, I don’t approve of such calls. They are diversionary. At the start of the tournament the president can send a goodwill message, watch the games while picking his teeth, allow the coaching team do their job, watch the final if he can and if we get to that. Such calls are absolutely unnecessary, if you ask me.
Happy Monday, folks. We lost to win next time.
Life goes on.