Sports News of Sunday, 31 January 2010
Many Nigerians have been bitter after their side lost to Ghana 1:0 in the semi-finals, yet they still look ahead for a beautiful encounter on Sunday.
Across the streets of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, men and women are pouring praises on the Black Stars or Black Starlet, if you want. Firstly, because they are young players and have been able to come this far in the tournament. Secondly, they’re giving a great lesson to Nigerians and other African nations that it’s sometime better to use players who play together than important professionals to assemble only few days to a competition.
Ade Yinka is a 36-year-old trader in Oshodi, Lagos, who believes Ghana will lift the cup on Sunday. “Sunday is Ghana’s day. The Egyptians will fall. This Ghanaian squad know how to play big teams and how to resist pressures and how to protect goals. And they are as well technical as the Egyptians think they are. And the difference is Ghana are much younger, capable to going down to extra-time without fatigue.”
A good number of people in Nigeria nurse Yinka’s feeling but some also are afraid as well. Obi Chukwudi, a 29-year-old banker from Port Harcourt says he loves to see Ghana win but the Pharaohs scare him. “Look, everybody wants Ghana, but the truth is no team in Africa can outplay Egypt at the moment. They are the most balance and perfect team. Ghana may win on Sunday but by lots of miracle.”
Another fear of those Nigerians who love to see Ghana be the next African champion is Hassan Shehata, Egypt’s coach. “Shehata is a terrible coach. He knows what strategies to use to destroy his opponent,” said Collins Upke, a sport analyst from Abuja. “He has already baked the plan for Sunday match and you’ll see what will happen. Shehata is just too much.”
Altogether, we can assume most Nigerian support Ghana for the final, but there are some apprehensions because of Egypt’s high calibre of players and their long-time experience.
How would you celebrate that victory?
The feast would be sweeter if Ghana wins according to many Nigerians. That would mean a West African victory.
“We’ll dance, eat fried meat and drink Gulder Beer if Ghana knocks out those Egyptians,” Johnbull Okoro, taxi driver in Ibadan (south-west Nigeria) said. “But the Ghana boys have to work for it. Egypt no bi small people!”
On the other hand, if Egypt wins many Nigerians say they will only acknowledge it but won’t celebrate wide. “It will be no big deal if the Pharaohs win, because they were strong favourites, and they’re lifting the trophy for the 7th time and three consecutive times. So, what would be the cause of celebrating wide,” Nelson Golu from VI, Lagos said. “You only jump and dance when you get something you weren’t really expecting possible.”
However, many people in Nigeria hail the quality of the Egyptian football and how their home league is positively influencing their international outings.