CHAN Eagles: they flattered to deceive in Morocco
It was an interesting week in which things happened that were either saddening or down right laughable. Laughable, not because they were hilarious, but mainly because they depicted the sad situation we have found ourselves today in our country. When such continues to dominate national discourse, no matter how grave, one is bound to laugh out one's frustrations. Let's look at some of them.
The CHAN Eagles got it Coming
From the day they played their first game against Rwanda, I told those who cared to listen that the homebased Super Eagles had a problem. Despite controlling that game from start to finish, our team failed to score and wasted many begging chances. It was then I saw that the team lacked the killer punch upfront, a punch that is required to succeed at the level they played. I'm talking about the team that played in the African Nations Cup for homebased teams known as CHAN, which got beaten 4-0 in the final last Sunday by hosts, Morocco.
Although they eventually got to the finals where they were ruthlessly mauled by Morocco, I felt that there was only one good team at that tournament and that team was Morocco. The difference was very clear in the way they played and scored goals for fun. Whereas the entire Nigerian team scored seven goals, one single player from Morocco scored nine.
Nigeria's victories en-route the final, to me, was quite flattering. It gave us a wrong picture of the team we had. While many clapped for them because they were winning, I was always left cursing the team for playing a brand of football I did not know.
The usual Nigerian team would have blown away their opponents before the final, given the way they controlled the matches. But this team was completely lost in attack, with the Top 9, Okpotu, always looking disinterested, slow and clueless. Forget that he got two goals. He was never sharp and that contributed to the bluntness of the attack. That the team was able to dominate possession against all their earlier opponents was just because the other teams were just as poor. That's why I said that there was only one good team at the tournament which was the Moroccan Team.
Our capitulation against Morocco in that final match proved that our team was a disaster waiting to happen. In that final match, it was clear we had no clear cut game plan, unlike the Moroccans who saw that our weakness was down the flanks. They exploited to the full, while making a mincemeat of our defence and midfield. But for the goal keeper, a new scoring record might have been created by Morocco whose players swooped down on us in wave after wave of relentless attacks to which our coach had no answer. We may have gotten a red card, but that shouldn't be used as an excuse because we were outplayed, outshot, out dribbled and outscored.
That match was yet another reminder that our local coaches need regular refresher courses to be able to rub shoulders with the rest. Some people argued that Morocco did well because the majority of their players in their senior national team were homebased. But I ask, was it not the same Moroccan Team that we came from three nil down to beat 4-3 four years ago in South Africa? That was when we had a team that played the Nigerian way; not what we had at the just ended tournament. Four years ago, our team lost in the semi-final and managed to win the bronze, but many Nigerians applauded them and were happy with their displays.
Today, we got to the final and came second, but not many who understand football will score this current team above the one that came third four years ago, the team that beat host, South Africa, 3-1, in the group stage.
The 4-0 mauling we received did one major damage: it obliterated the earlier victories we had! But it wasn't all negative though. A few players showed potential of moving up to the next stage which is to play for the main Super Eagles. A player like Eze, who played in the heart of defence for Nigeria, more than acquitted himself well with his assured displays all through. Tall, fearless, strong and quite skilful, this player, if well-groomed and guided, can be our new Taribo West.
Part of the guiding will be to advise him on his future choice of clubs, knowing that he will soon jet out abroad for greener pasture. If he plays for the right clubs, very soon we will have a gem in our hands.
There was also the goal keeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa. He stood out among the pack of goalies at the tournament with his cat-like reflexes and agility. Although he did not play in the final because of injury, we already knew his worth, having been already keeping for the senior team. The tournament served to bolster his confidence and to convince the national team selectors that he can effectively stay between the sticks at the world cup.
Anthony Gabriel was yet another player that impressed me. Though still a rough diamond, he can get better with time, and again if he plays for the right clubs. These are the three players that showed good flashes and who hopefully we can help to rise to stardom.
For now, we should work towards improving our local league in order to bring the best out of the players and reduce their urge to jet out abroad at the slightest chance.
Olisa Metuh: Justice without a Human Face
Last Monday, a drama played out at the Federal High Court, Abuja. The lead actor was the former spokesman of the People's Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, who is standing trial for corrupt practices. The drama was that Metuh arrived at the court, not just in an ambulance, but was wheeled into the courtroom in a stretcher.
Metuh has been sick for some time since the trial began and when his matter had come up on the previous occasion, his lawyers failed to convince the court to allow him time for treatment. And so last Monday, following the insistence of the trial judge, Justice Tahir, that he be brought to the court, Metuh was wheeled into the courtroom in a stretcher as though he were a common criminal. It was probably the first time such would happen.
Now, even known hardened criminals who get shot in the course of their arrest, are allowed to be treated in the hospital before coming to court, but in Metuh's case, he was given no such privilege.
I'm not making excuses for Metuh to shirk from answering the charges levelled against him. It is his onus to go there and prove the Federal Government wrong and walk out a free man, or to fail to prove his case. In that case, the law will take its course.
However what I am against is the treatment of some categories of politicians in a manner that makes them seem worse than others, simply because they belong to another party. That has always been my beef against Buhari's anti-graft crusade. He cannot be demonising others outside his party, while harbouring the real demons within.
I guess if he expends the same amount of energy and passion he does against his opponents, on burning national issues, the country would be far better than it is now. The fuel problem still lingers in much the same way as the herdsmen's killings. The power situation remains chaotic, federal roads are in states of disrepair, Nigerians are groaning and suffering under the inclement economic climate. The list is endless. These are issues Buhari should be facing and quit ridiculing the nation the way he does in the lopsided corruption war.
The Olisa Metuh case is one of the most stupid acts of this government that I've seen. Why not allow the sick man time enough to recover? One might ask why I'm blaming the FG, but it is known that the FG often manipulates things from the confines of Aso Rock. And thus nothing happens without a hidden directive from above.
No one should play God, for as they say, what goes around, comes around. I wish Olisa Metuh well as he battles for his life.