The African cup of nations is here again. I always wonder why this tournament is never played at the end of the season. The AFCON is to Africans as the Euros is to the people of Europe and it is also what Copa America is to South Americans. No disrespect to the AFCON, but I am not so into the tournament. In all honesty the last time I was keen about the competition was in 1994 when the Super Eagles won it in Tunisia. It was a fantastic tournament. Rashidi Yekini was my man of the tournament. May his soul continue to rest in peace. He scored 4 goals in the tournament but my favourite was the one he scored against Congo DR (Then Zaire). Great control with the chest and a volley that left the goaltender helpless. Again 1994 was a memorable year in Nigerian football. Nigeria was ranked the 5th best nation in the world then and they were close to making the quarter finals of their first ever world cup in the U.S (The best ever world cup).
I couldn’t watch the 1996 edition, though Nigeria didn’t go to defend her trophy no thanks to General Sani Abacha (Our then military dictator), a bit of blood rush to his head I guess. South Africa however hosted and won it. I didn’t watch the 1998 edition because I was in school (boarding house), it was hosted by Burkina Faso and Egypt won it. The 2000 edition was hosted by both Nigeria and Ghana. I was still in secondary school then (covering eyes). We were however allowed to watch Nigeria’s games. It was cool because Nigeria got to the final, though they lost to the Lions of Cameroun on penalties.
I remember how I used to follow the tournaments I missed back then. Myself and two of my friends (Daffy and Pato G) would sneak to the back of our housemaster’s flat to listen to Larry Echiejile’s (Now Larry Izamoje) sport’s show on Ray Power for scores of the games played the day before. There was a day our housemaster even caught us and beat us. The man actually thought we were peeping while he was doing the nasty with his wife (lmao).
The 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 editions were followed non-challantly. I don’t think I saw up to 15 games (in all 6 tournaments combined). I ceased being a Super Eagles fan in 2002. A host of my friends know England is my adopted football nation. What’s the difference between Nigeria and England? PATRIOTISM. Whether the English footballers can play or not they are a dedicated bunch. You won’t see any of the English players feign injury when called up for National duty unlike a certain Nigerian born Chelsea player *yimu*. Also be reminded England as of today are ranked 6th in world football and let me also rob this in, they beat Spain in 2011 *tongue out*
Back to AFCON 2013, England aint participating so I will stand by my country of birth (Nigeria). I probably would have supported Sierra Leone if they qualified (I also pledge my allegiance to them because my grandma is from there, hahahahaha). Quite frankly I don’t see Nigeria winning the nations cup but a semi-final berth is fair enough and please I am not saying this because we played an encouraging draw against Catalunya or because we beat a Portuguese division two side (Faranse) 5-0. Despite not qualifying for the 2012 edition, Nigeria is still feared in Africa (abi na wash?) I was a big fan of Samson Siasia, too bad he wasn’t given much time. I am also a big fan of Stephen ‘the boss’ Keshi, he qualified Togo for the 2006 world cup in Germany. Too bad he wasn’t allowed to take them to the tournament. He was sacked after a poor nations cup outng,
I really hope Keshi is given time even if he doesn’t do well or better still if the team doesn’t do well at this tourney holding in South Africa from 19th January to 10th of February. We shouldn’t be firing coaches anyhow, this isn’t Stamford Bridge jare. We have to be patient and if Keshi acts like Arsene Wenger (doing stuff the same way and expecting a different result, na only craze man dey do like that) then he should be kicked out.
Nigeria’s first game is against Burkina Faso, it might not be easy but Nigeria is winning that game. 3points assured and if they don’t win omo na dem come know o. Zambia (they can’t retain the trophy jor) and Ethopia are the other teams in Nigeria’s group (group C). I sincerely hope Nigeria tops her group and possibly avoid Ivory Coast in the quarter finals. The Nigerian players to watch out for are Ike Uche, Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa and Nosa Igiebor. Ike Uche would be top scorer, hehehehehehehehe.
I think Ghana would win the tournament though I have a right to change my mind as the tournament progresses. Giant killers Cape Verde (they beat Cameroun to qualify for the competition) are the underdogs and I am backing them to get to the quarter finals. That’s a decent performance for them.
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