Wednesday, August 24, 2016

NPFL, Star lager seal multi-year partnership

By Fred Edoreh

Nigeria's premium lager beer, Star, on Tuesday in a colourful ceremony held inside the Ball Room of the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, sealed a "multi-year" partnership deal with the League Management Company (LMC) for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

The relationship, according to the Portfolio Manager, National Premium Lager of Nigeria Breweries PLC. makers of Star Lager Beer, Tokunboh Adodo. is conceived with the objective of bringing "premium experience to consumers."

"Our objective is to bring the standard of other societies where football is at its best to our consumers. We expect to see those activities that will enable consumers to experience football like they have never seen before. We believe in this platform and our partnership is about moving the NPFL forward seeing that the gentlemen in the LMC have shown professionalism and adherence to global best practices. Star is the first beer brand to ever sponsor the NPFL and the partnership is worth every dime we are putting into it. The most important word is partnership. It is a win win for both Star, the NPFL all stakeholders.

The National Marketing Director of NBL, Franco Maggi who assured that the partnership is a multi year relationship said the most important thing is that Star and the NPFL are together.

"This is almost like a natural thing. Star is the longest selling beer and it has been there at every great moment in Nigeria and it is just natural that we are also with the NPFL which is providing a great leap for Nigerian football. What is important is the fact that we are together. We wouldn't be doing it if we do not intend to stay for a long time. We are here to support the growth of football in Nigeria and if the people who support football in Nigeria support our brand, we will be happy."

Elated chairman of the League Management Company, Shehu Dikko, described the partnership as unique, expressing optimism that the relationship will give the league a big push.

"Our objective is to get a partner that will work with us at the back end, take the league into the heart of Nigerians, we are very positive that Star lager will contribute greatly towards helping us achieve this and we are very excited with the partnership."

First Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). Seyi Akinwunmi who represented the board at the ceremony described the partnership as a marriage between two excellent entities.

"Those who know when the LMC started cannot believe that we are having this ceremony. The LMC has come out with first class in managing the NPFL. Star is a first class brand and the partnership is like a marriage between two first class professionals. The deal is very transparent and the NFF is in total support of it"

Already, Star Lager has embossed the NPFL logo on its foil and Adodo who displayed the new branding has assured that the Star Lager with NPFL logo will go into the market "in few weeks time."

Dignitaries at the consummation of the partnership includes the Managing Director of Nigeria Breweries PLC, Nico Vervelde, Chief Executive Officer of the League Management Company, Hon Nduka Irabor, Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission, Deji Tinubu, representative of the Federal Ministry of Sports, Engr. A Alanamu, chairmen of NPFL clubs from across the country and distinguished players in the football industry.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Nominees emerge for July NPFL League Bloggers Award

The shortlists for the Manager and Player of July in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) - League Bloggers Awards (LBA) have been named after long deliberation.

Four players and four coaches were listed among the nominees on Monday to vie for the NPFL-LBA for the month of July.

In the race for the manager's award are Kabiru Dogo of Nasarawa United, Plateau United's Zachary Baraje, Rafael Everton of FC Ifeanyiubah and Imama Amapakabo of Enugu Rangers.

Dogo and Baraje helped their teams amass 10 points from five matches apiece in the month under review and also lost once each. However, Plateau United under Baraje stunned the bookmakers when they won at Abia Warriors by a goal on July 3 and also won 1-0 at MFM FC on the last day of July.

Nasarawa United managed by Dogo notched up two big wins at home against Sunshine Stars and El-Kanemi with identical 3-0 scorelines having added Rivers United to the teams they conquered in July. Their other point came at struggling Ikorodu United where they played out a 2-2 draw on July 24.

FC Ifeanyiubah's Brazilian trainer, Everton and Amapakabo share the same stats for July. Both men guided their teams to unbeaten streaks and got nine points apiece. Rangers' 3-2 win at Akwa United proved a major catalyst in Amapakabo making the shortlists for the manager of July.

The tussle for the July players has quite an interesting field that includes Plateau United goalkeeper, Danladi Isah. The custodian will have to face the trio of outfield players in Abdulrahman Bashir (Nasarawa United), Fortune Omoniwari (Akwa United) and Kingsley Eduwo (Lobi Stars).

Isah kept three clean sheets in July - two on the road at Abia Warriors and MFM FC and then at home to Enyimba. The Plateau United goalkeeper was one of the reasons his team came out of their contest at Abia Warriors as one-nil winners. He then followed up with superb performances against Enyimba and MFM FC. Isah also saved a spot kick at the Agege Stadium in Lagos to help his team to a 1-0 win over MFM FC.

Omoniwari scored thrice for Akwa United in July in their losses at home to Rangers and then away at Warri Wolves while Eduwo netted on matchdays 27, 28 and 29 against Plateau United, Rangers and Warri Wolves to take his tally to three goals in the month under review.

Nasarawa United striker, Bashir, who has been among the shortlists in the past two months, notched up five goals in five matches against Rivers United, 3SC, Sunshine Stars, Ikorodu United and El-Kanemi Warriors.

The winners of the NPFL-LBA for July will be announced this week.



Abdulrahman Bashir (Nasarawa United)
Fortune Omoniwari (Akwa United)
Danladi Isah (Plateau United)
Kingsley Eduwo (Lobi Stars)


Kabiru Dogo (Nasarawa United)
Zachary Baraje (Plateau United)
Rafael Everton (FC Ifeanyiubah)

Imama Amapakabo (Enugu Rangers)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Gernot Rohr maintains old order for Super Eagles

Gernot Rohr
As against what is the norm in coaching the Nigerian national team, new German coach, Gernot Rohr has decided to stick with the old order for the Super Eagles first game under his tutelage.

Nigeria take on Tanzania in a “dead rubber” that the Nigeria Football Federation’s Communications department says will hold in Uyo.

However, there were not too many changes to the national team as Nigerians know it.

Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Emmanuel, Chidozie Awaziem, Jamiu Alimi, Abdullahi Shehu, Musa Muhammed, Kingsley Madu, Wilfred Ndidi, Imoh Ezekiel and Victor Osimhen are the only players called up who before now have not had a regular run in the team.

Ikechukwu Ezenwa of FC Ifeanyi Ubah and Daniel Emmanuel of Rangers are certainly in the team because of their superb showings at the LaLiga tour and Olympic Games respectively.

Center back, Jamiu Alimi who plays for Kano Pillars was also awesome against Valencia, Malaga and Atletico Madrid on the tour.

Gernot Rohr has invited 23 players, including Captain Mikel John Obi and goalkeeper Carl Ikeme and he apparently does not want to upset the balance in the team ahead of the more important World Cup Qualifying games that start in October.

In Carl Ikeme, he has a goalkeeper who is big, strong, and confident and has carefully continued from where the legendary Vincent Enyeama left off.

Ikeme would have no time to be lethargic as the duo of Ezenwa and Emmanuel already seem ripe for a starting shirt as proved in their recent outings with the NPFL All Stars side and Olympic Team respectively.

William Troost-Ekong is back in the team on the strength of his showing at the Olympic Games, while injury plagued Leon Balogun would be an asset in right back.

The Super Eagles have not had a right back of reputable quality since Joseph Yobo last played in role in 2002.

And with the duo Kenneth Omeruo and Godfrey Obuobona left out of the team, Jamiu Alimi has a chance at a starting shirt in the game.

Unless something extraordinary happens, it seems Rohr will stick to Mikel Obi and Ogenyi Onazi marshalling the midfield leaving Wilfred Ndidi to understudy his more experienced colleagues.

Israel –based Nosa Igiebor has not played for Nigeria in more than two years and this may be a chance for him to get back into reckoning.

But it is in attack that the real battle for shirt will be fought

Vice-captain, Ahmed Musa may just retain his place on the wings alongside Moses Simon who was very regular under Sunday Oliseh.

And if Rohr decides on a big man upfront then he surely has a decision to make between Odion Ighalo who was Nigeria’s top scorer in Europe last season and Brown Ideye who has done well for himself since moving to Greece last year.

But if he decides to start with two front men, then these two may get the nod.

Kelechi Iheanacho will of course be lurking in wings for a look in.

Gernot Rohr has the best of talent Nigeria has to offer but it remains to be seen what he can do in five or six training sessions before the game against Tanzania.

Good thing the game against Tanzania means nothing apart from just being a bonding session for the lads.

The test comes up with the World Cup Qualifiers a month later.


Goalkeepers: Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England); Emmanuel Daniel (Enugu Rangers); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC IfeanyiUbah)

Defenders: Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz 05, Germany); William Troost-Ekong (Haugesund FC, Norway); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal); Jamiu Alimi (Kano Pillars); Abdullahi Shehu (Uniao da Madeira, Portugal); Musa Muhammed (Istanbul Basaksehir, Turkey); Elderson Echiejile (AS Monaco, France), Kingsley Madu (AS Trencin, Slovakia)

Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (KRC Genk, Belgium); Nosa Igiebor (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester City, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium); Victor Moses (Chelsea FC, England); Imoh Ezekiel (Al-Arabi Sporting Club, Qatar), Odion Ighalo (Watford FC, England); Brown Ideye (Olympiacos FC, Greece); Victor Osimhen (Wolfsburg FC, Germany)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Diary of Spain day 8. Port Harcourt at last… The air tastes different

Departure day
Breakfast happened this morning as we were all so excited about going back home. 

The scheduling was near perfect and we knew we had three hours to spare before departing Jerez for the Sevilla train station. 

I'd planned to write some features on the trip so I decided to use the spare time on my hands to tidy some interviews. 

I had a session with Shehu Dikko in his room and then Danladi Isaac in his room too. 

Then Emeka Inyama decided to attend to me right in front of the hotel. 

I'd previously spoken with Moses Etu and the coach, Salisu Yusuf. Defenders Emmanuel Ariwa and Chima Akas had spoken too. 

Hero of the tour, Ikechukwu Ezenwa agreed to do his with me at the airport 

Leaving Jerez/ Cadiz

As usual we all got in the buses. Three were provided. One for the players/ coaches and the other two for the rest of us 

From my previous experience I knew that the AC in the black bus did not work so Niyi and I picked the white bus. 

When I tried to help Nduka IRABOR with his stuff I also suggested the white bus to him. 

The discussion on the bus from Jerez to Sevilla was a class act. 

It was no holds barred. From the Fifa World Cup fiasco in Brazil to the Federation elections in Warri that brought in Pinnick to the way the NFF is run. 

Everybody there spoke their mind and spoke the truth because it was like "Naked Convos". 

As soon as we landed at the Sevilla train station, Chris Green screamed out my name as though I had committed a felony. 

When I turned to face him as I grabbed my bags he said, pointing at me, "ee don happen o!"

At this point everybody around turned to look at him to know what had happened and he went, "Mata don score o. We dey lead 1-0 for Bournemouth". 

Then he started this loud argument on how Jose Mourinho is the best thing since sliced bread. 

Every now and then I'd turn to him and ask, "Bournmouth don equalize?" 

The train trip to Madrid from Sevilla would be for 2 hours. I was going to enjoy every bit of it. 

First I used it as an opportunity to type day 7 of my diary and then play football manager. 

Then I put down features ideas for the Laliga tour which I hoped to finalize write ups by Tuesday. 

But most of the Nigerians on the train just crashed off, not long after it took off. I guess they were all exhausted. 

By the time we got to the  Madrid train station, Chris Green announced to us that Manchester United won the game 3-1 and another round of banter which he led started as he wanted to prove to us all that United would win the league. 

Na week one we just play o. 

On the bus to the Madrid Airport, it was all Chris Green telling all that cared that Man United were back. 

Shehu Dikko turned and asked him to discuss Rivers United and he accused Dikko of also being a Manchester United fan.

Dikko defended himself by saying, not anymore since he was only now interested in the Nigerian league. 

Madrid to Casablanca 

While checking in and boarding the plane from Madrid to Casablanca we (some of us) discussed the almost five hour wait at the airport in Morocco 

What do we do with our time? 

Imama Amapakabor was convinced that as far as there was that free wifi he won't be bothered. 

AYO, Niyi and I talked about the jollof rice at the airport. 

Apparently some of the guys ate it on our way in and told the rest of us about it. 

Searching for rice in Casablanca

It wasn't easy but we did our best. The place Niyi recommended had no rice so he suggested some other place. 

We got there (AYO and I) still no rice. 

We now saw Imama pacing up and down the aisle searching for a place to charge his phone. 

We (with Imama in tow) located another joint and no rice so I suggested we do chicken and chips and the search continued. 

Imama told us that if he had been counting he believed he had paced the airport aisle fifty times already. 

I told him mine had to be eighty times. It was all about getting something to eat.

We saw a joint that had chips but no chicken.

Then we saw another joint that had chicken but no chips. Chai! 

Ayo suggested we buy chicken from one joint and take it to the other and buy their chips.

Good idea, but by the time we got back to the chicken place, they told us it was buffet they were serving.

We continued to search. 

Noticed how they covered up the Beer?
Then Imama stopped us in our tracks and said, "instead of all this search for nonexistent food, why not just buy a beer, drink and be happy?"

I looked at him in dismay and said, "Do you want to drink beer in lieu of food?

"Don't worry, we'll find our food. We'll buy you a beer"

After our, maybe, 200th time down that aisle I then suggested we go for a burger and the guys agreed. 

At this time Nobert Okolie had joined us. 

And we got to a burger joint and ordered 2. Imama only wanted a beer. Nobert, a zero coke like me 

I didn't see beer on display in their fridge so I immediately felt sorry for AYO and Imama 

When the burger was ready, I asked for two cans of Zero coke, then just to fulfil all righteousness, I asked if the man had a beer, knowing I saw none in the fridge and he said they did have beer.

Lol, I forgot I was in morocco.

The man brought the two cokes, and the two beers all covered in serviette so no one but us know it is beer. Funny chaps.

As we sat to eat our burgers and take our drinks, Imama Amapakabo and I shared more Port Harcourt stories as Norbert Okolie and Ayo Ibidapo listened.

It was time to board the plane and head for Lagos. Good bye Morocco.
Maybe I should have eaten this

As I arrived in Lagos my first option was to go and eat something i will enjoy.

I succeeded on that and of course, it was Port Harcourt for me after spending some time in Dudu Orumen's Sports Shaq


Now if you have followed this diary of Spain since it began a week ago, please drop your comment on what it was like for you reading it. We appreciate all that feedback.

Until the next diary, goodbye.


Departing from Lagos. The view from Dudu Orumen's Sports Shaq

How we roll at the Port Harcourt airport. You off load your baggage yourself

Just before departing the NH Avenida Jerez (Whatever that means)

I eventually found Amala in Lagos. But the place was too neat

Chatting up Emeka Inyama

Chatting up Mutui Adepoju

Monday, August 15, 2016

Odey in confident mood ahead Wolves encounter

MFM FC teenage striker, Stephen Odey has told that they are ready to engage Warri Wolves in Wednesday's NPFL clash billed for Wednesday.

The game, a Match Day 31 fixture will be played at the Agege Township Stadium in Lagos.

Odey who has scored eight goals for MFM FC in his debut season in the NPFL is oozing with lots of confidence ahead of the midweek tie and  believes his side will overpower the Seasiders.

“Our game against Warri Wolves is going to be a difficult match considering our positions on the league table but I believe in the abilities of my team mates.

“Wolves were lucky to edge us in the first leg with a one nil win. We are prepared because we don't want a repeat of what happened in the reverse fixture so we are ready for them with one thing in mind which is to garner the three points at stake,” Odey said.

Two points separates the two teams on the NPFL log with MFM FC claiming the  13th spot with 36 points while the visitors sits on 17 position on table with 34 points.

Diary of Spain, Day 7: Finally Fernando Torres

After 2 days, Liverpool Legend, Torres and I
The first thing I did when I got up this morning was to post my diary for the previous day.

Nigerians like gist so they cannot wait for it to be posted and I thought it was better to free myself so I can focus on the rest of the day.

Well, the diary is just to portray the lighter side of this trip to Spain. The more serious issues will be discussed later. I mean serious issues regarding how the team performed, what could be done better in the Nigerian league, how clubs can build their own structure etc, but for now it is the diary.

We are going to the mall

Harry Iwuala, Ayo Ibidapo and I decided to go to the mall and before we left we had spoken to Enugu based Norbert Okorie who said he saw an Igbo man selling serviettes in traffic down the road.

The debate was now, “Why would an Igbo man leave Onitsha or Nnewi or Aba, as the case may be to come sell tissue paper in traffic here in Jerez, not even Madrid or Barcelona.

After a short debate we made ourselves believe what he does in the open could as well be a cover up for what he does at night. Maybe he was into drugs.

As soon as we were ready, we sought out directions to the mall and no one could really help because we wanted to know how far it was and if we would have to take a taxi or walk.

I told them that Chris Green said after they got lost the previous day it took them just about five minutes by taxi to get to the hotel.

Now that it was sorted out we needed to know what direction we would walk and when we met Mutui Adepoju who lived in Spain as a football player and still lives here, he told us it was a 25 minute walk and we should just walk straight and not make any turns.

While walking, we enjoyed the scenery and at a point Harry Iwuala point out a sign post and interpreted saying with his little knowledge of French, he knew that was a library but we moved on because apparently Ayo and I had no idea what the French language sounded like. Olodo na him me and Ayo be when it comes to languages.
The sign post that misled us
Suddenly, I saw a sign at the top which read, “Centro commercial, Luz Shopping” but it pointed to the left and not straight up like Mutui Adepoju had said.

So with my kobo kobo ikwerre sense, I asked Harry,”Shebi you can convert French to Spanish, abi Spanish to French? At least this sign says Centro Commercial which seems like Commercial center to me and then it says Luz Shopping; is that not the shopping complex we are looking for?”

Immediately, both Ayo and Harry agreed with me and we made the left turn forgetting that Mutui Adepoju told us it was a straight walk for twenty five minutes.

Then we started walking, and walking and walking and walking until Harry asked, “Abeg who check time? Mutui twenty five minutes never reach?

Then it suddenly dawned on us that we had actually walked more than thirty minutes and we had taken the wrong turn.

Meanwhile, the militant/ Avenger in me was a bit distracted because at that point I was in front of a gun shop and I saw different kinds of guns on display and rather than focus on directions I was asking if those were real guns or toys guns, then I saw a certain marking on one of them and I immediately knew they were real guns.

Suddenly the store owner saw three black men admiring the guns and shut the door.

Silly white woman. Did she think I wanted to buy a gun? And if I did, na for Spain I go buy am?

Then we saw that “Igbo” man Nobert told us about. He was hawking serviettes by the traffic light and we called out to him to ask where the shopping mall was and he pointed in the direction we were already heading but said we had to take a taxi since it was really very far.

At that point we knew we were lost because that was not what Mutui told us.

So we asked if there was another one behind and he spoke in the affirmative.

Guys, we turned round to locate ourselves but before we did that Harry asked him where he was from and he said, Nigeria and when we asked where, he said Edo State.

We hailed him and moved on.

By the time we got on the right path, the mall wasn’t even too far from where we made the wrong turn but wasn’t all that part of the experience?

A beer for the road

By the time we finished our shopping and returned to the hotel… on foot again, we were totally knackered and Harry (No be him again) suggested we do a beer for the road since we were tired.

Of course, we stopped by and while Ayo and Harry did their beer (remember its two euros, equivalent to one thousand naira per glass) I did white wine.

While in the moment of the drinks and gist we missed lunch. But who cared about lunch anyway when it was the same old food cooked without salt and pepper as someone put it.

Finally Torres and Simeone

Then we as usual went upstairs for some shut eye and started out to the stadium for our third place match against Atletico Madrid.

On arrival at the stadium, Niyi Oyeleke (remember him from yesterday?) that’s the SuperSport chap who is a Liverpool fan who also tried, alongside me to get a selfie with Fernando Torres that did not happen after a one hour wait.

Well, Niyi nudged me while we were pitch side and asked, “I hope you never give up on Torres and Simeone o?”

Chai! Niyi no go kill me. We should go again? After what happened yesterday? But on second thoughts how can I get this close to Torres and Simeone and not make contact.

So I told Niyi I’m part of the plan.

While Niyi and I were conspiring on how to get selfie with these two chaps, Harry Iwuala… very wicked, tricky and slimy guy.

The same Iwuala who laughed us to scorn yesterday when we waited in vain for Torres, just walked up to us, a boyish grin playing on his face and showed us a selfie on his phone. A selfie with Fernando Torres. How?

You could see Niyi Oyeleke’s lower jaw drop and almost touch the ground.

How and where did you see Torres?

Iwuala, like a cross between an Igbo and Lagos jaguda told us he simply walked into the Atletico Madrid dressing room, found Torres out and “Demanded” an autograph first for his son, then a selfie before asking for an Atletico Madrid jersey.

The Arsenal sc*m. Shamelessly asking for a jersey too? But the truth is that he did what Niyi and I had been trying to do for two days now.

Niyi (forget his size) faster than the speed of light had dashed downstairs to the Atletico Madrid dressing room but after the stunt Harry Iwuala pulled, they had stationed bouncers around and we couldn’t get in to see Torres or Simeone.

I wasn’t about to spend one hour waiting like I did yesterday so I met one of the bouncers who spoke English and he said, “photo? Now impossible. After the game,  good.” Then he gave me a thumbs up.

That was our cue. We went back pitch side and as the game was about to start, Harry Iwuala (That Arsenal fan again) sighted Diego Simeone as he got out and sat in the dugout. None of us saw him.

Harry nudged me and said, “Take my phone come snap me and coach”
Diego Simeone and I

While I was looking around and asking, “Which coach?” Harry had already beckoned on Diego Simeone and was chatting with him like some old high school mate from way back.

Then I took the pictures.

Niyi Oyeleke not wanting to be outdone went to Simeone and spoke with him. The man was very humble and got up from his seat again and I took the pictures.

Chai! Na me go carry last? I come Spain to snap other people picture?

So I gave my phone to Niyi and asked him to do the honours but Simeone was already seated for the third time.

When I beckoned on him, he looked at me, pointed at his wrist watch, then pointed at the field, like trying to let me know the match was about to start and he had to stay focused.

Then he made a gesture like I should do it with him sitting down. “I wan complain?”

Truth is that LaLiga need all that to popularize their brand more and more so I guess the people had been educated not to pass the chance of taking selfies with their fans, especially those of us who had come all the way from Africa.

Someone done, but no Torres yet.

He wasn’t even dressed for the game and was nowhere near the stadium.

Now after the game and with players leaving, we were having a meeting pitch side and suddenly Harry Iwuala again (how does he do it? Nudged Niyi Oyeleke and said “That’s Torres leaving. Go and get your selfie.”

Niyi is big and should be slow, but the speed… Even Torres would have bowed.

But he was very nice this time and we all had our chance with him and all that.

Niyi chatted with Torres and had his selfie, I did same, Nobert Okolie too and a lot of others from the Nigerian delegation.

The NPFL All Star team lost the game, 2-1 to Atletico but it was not as bad as it seemed.

Atletico started nine of the players they used in the European Champions League final against Real Madrid just three months ago and these were a group of local boys from the Nigerian league yet we held our own against them.

In fact for scoring against Atletico Madrid, we even won the game, as far as I am concerned.

As we departed for the hotel, I sat with Harry Iwuala, Niyi Oyeleke, Ayo Ibidapo and Nobert Okolie.

We talked about lots of things but as we approached the hotel the gist changed to that new girlfriend we all discovered.

Without a vote, we knew we were not going to eat at the hotel tonight.

In fact when I asked if it would be the same old chips and roast beef, Harry said they could give us jollof rice.

I laughed like Doubting Thomas Didimus in the bible stories and said, “Won’t it be the same rice cooked without salt and pepper?”

They said it was not since this was cooked to the specification they gave us.

The rice came not long after and in my mind I rained curse on those hotel people.

So they could give us this kind of rice since and we had been eating rubbish?

The guys drank their beer (as usual). I just took a coca cola.

The pepper in the rice was choking me and I was coughing but hadn’t I missed this all along.
This tasted much better

I enjoyed the meal o.

But when Nobert came to join us and ordered a beer I was shocked.

I asked him, “So you drink beer?” and his reply was “only after work”

I told him I never knew he drank beer. In fact I never knew he did anything apart from take pictures.

He did not look like a beer person or a person that did any other thing but take pictures.

The sleep today would be legendary. Because tomorrow we depart Jerez/ Cadiz for Sevilla and then leave Sevilla for Madrid.

As soon as I get to Lagos, I would need to compensate for all the “Bad” food I’ve eaten the last one week so I will look for a mama put, the one that has flies all over and very dirty too. That would be the best place to eat my first naija meal.

Maybe I should go to that Shitta area sef. It seems dirty enough. That’s the only thing that will put me back in the Nigerian spirit, food wise.

Photo Splash

Harry Iwuala after he got the bill at the mall

Enjoying the Atleti fans behind me

Paying my bills with a smile

A Nigerian at the Stadium in Cadiz. Thought he was in his house

I can't count how many times I pressed this

Ikechukwu Ezenwa was the hero of the Tournament. I had to famz

This tasted better. The new girlfriend

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Diary of Spain, Day 6: Waiting for Fernando Torres

Today would be the opening games of the 62nd Trofeo Ramon De Carraza and the NPFL All Star side would start against Malaga.

We all hoped they would beat Malaga and then play Athletico Madrid in the final. Yes we believed Athletico Madrid would beat Cadiz in the other game. Yes we were optimistic like that.

Breakfast in the morning of Friday was fun. Fun because people like Chris Green and Ahmed Kawu as well as Alhaji Fresh were there to crack us up.

I swear Chris Green should have been acting in Nollywood. He would have made more fame and fortune. He can still do it if he wants.
Barrister Chris Green at hotel Restaurant

He came with a story about how he and Baita, the Kano Pillars General Manager got lost after shopping at the mall the previous night.

The laughter was not in the story he told but how animated he was while telling it.

We all laughed so hard and much our sides hurt. In fact someone actually choked on his food while laughing. Chris Green na comedian.

After breakfast, the Enyimba players had to leave and Theophilus Afelokhai had mixed feelings.

He told me he was supposed to be in goal for the NPFL All Star team against Malaga but he would be going to Egypt to deliver a victory for his club.

Buying a beer in Cadiz

I was speaking with a club official at the hotel bar later in the day as he sipped his beer.

Very funny guy, this club official.

I asked him how for much the beer and he said, “two euros or one thousand naira.”

So I asked why he was converting it to naira rather than enjoy his beer and he said in the part of Nigeria where he comes from, one thousand naira would buy him seven bottles of beer and he is here in another man’s country buying only one glass which was three quarters full anyway.

Very funny chap, this club official.

He went on to say in Nigeria he can drink beer at anytime, but in Cadiz he went to the hotel bar, gave them all the euros he had in his possession and told them to keep bringing beer for him until he exhausts what he has given them but they told him they do not start drinking beer until noon. According to him it was 11:30 am at the time.

Then this funny club official looked at me like Zebrudaya and asked, “Why must you regulate what time I will drink beer when I am paying for it?”

We all laughed because we know this chap, very funny club official.

My new girl friend

I got a new girlfriend today and I enjoyed her so much. Yes it is not easy feasting on the same thing for four days so when this new chic came along, I fell in love with her immediately.

My new girl friend
Now your minds are messing you up. What is this chap talking about? Why is he exposing his atrocities in Cadiz like this on social media?

But you’ll do the same thing if you found this same girl I’m talking about.

Okay lemme cut the chase and explain this new love.

For four days we have been doing the buffet at the hotel and I must say, breakfast has been my best meal but aside that, it had been a struggle to cope with the tasteless food.

As I explained to someone, the food no dey get salt or pepper.

Ayo Ibidapo (the scum) came all the way from Nigeria with red pepper but as soon as the group knew he had it, we hounded him and by the second meal on Tuesday it was finished and we were back to square one.

I had made up my mind that I would go look for MacDonald’s ,Burger King or KFC to get a burger or something that tastes like real food until I encountered Chief Nduka Irabor once again at the hotel bar.

Nduka Irabor is a great man.

He was seated there with Harry Iwuala, Fred Edoreh, Alloy Chukwuemeka and Niyi Oyeleke when I joined up.

Then suddenly a meal of fried potato chips and roast beef was served and in amazement, I asked, “You all can do this?” and they asked, “Why not?”

They went on to say they had been doing it, even rice and other such stuff. Wow!

I joined them in the meal of chips, roast beef and a glass of wine and I knew I wasn’t going back to the hotel buffet any more.

My new girlfriend? That was she.

Fernando Torres and Diego Simeone

So we got to the stadium for the Trofeo Ramon De Carrazo and it was fanfare all about the place.

The first game between home side, Cadiz and Athletico Madrid was on and as usual Fernando Torres was running around the pitch as if he didn’t want to be there.

Yes Athletico led 1-0 at half time and seemed to be winning the game when they conceded a penalty very late in the game, drew and then lost the resulting penalty shootouts with Torres fluffing the first kick.

As soon as the game ended, Niyi Oyeleke of Super Sports, a long time Liverpool fan called me and said, “China, you no wan snap Torres?”

I said, why not? Where we wan see am?

And Niyi said, “Make we go block am na. IF I no snap with am I no go comot here o”

So he suggested we go and wait for him and the dressing room exit. Niyi said it had to be Fernando Torres and Diego Simeone or nothing.

Harry Iwuala later joined up with us to wait but there was really no passion for Iwuala so he left to focus on Nigeria’s game against Malaga while Oyeleke and I waited for the Ahtletico team to come out.

While waiting, I met Saul Niguez, the home grown Athletico midfielder and he obliged me a selfie but Torres and Simeone “refused” to come out.

Now for those who do not know, Fernando Torres is the best striker to dorn the Liverpool jersey in the last decade; no one comes close, and we still waited, so if we had our chance to interact with him, we would.

We had even spoken to the security man that he should let us take a selfie with Torres and he said he would help.

Fans waiting to get photos with Athletico players
And as the Athletico players came out one after the other he told us their names and asked if we were interested but Niyi and I collectively said, NO, it had to be Torres or no one.

Then the crowd of home people started to gather. Lots of other people wanted what we wanted.

Suddenly, Torres popped out and Niyi… chai! The way the guy snubbed us sef. Was it the anger that his team lost and he missed a penalty, or what was it sef. I no fit talk.

He just walked passed us like we did not exist, then stopped in front to sign autographs and take pictures with some Spanish kids.

Chai! Niyi just looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said, “At least let it not be like we did not try.”

We just went back to the stadium to watch the NPFL All Star side lose 4-1 to Malaga with goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa as the man of the match obviously from the Nigerian side.

He was so good that the fans behind the post sang a song in his name as he was being taken off in the second half.

Cold, cold stadium

The city of Cadiz is surrounded by the Mediterranean sea and it can be windy and cold at times.

In fact it was windy and cold the day we played against Malaga and I wore just a t-shirt.

Well, lemme just say na small thing remain I no die there with cold.

I tweeted something during the game, Iyi Tugbulem meh nu eli cadiz weh.

That was how I felt o. but I survived it anyway.

We lost 4-1 but we picked up a lot of positives from the experience and we can only get better.

The Nigerian league is not the best in Africa even though we plan to be there as soon as possible, but here we were playing against clubs from about the best league in the world. The score line did not matter, did it?

We returned to the hotel to face the old girlfriend again but since I had found a new one I just had bread, butter and water then went to sleep. I no dey for that one again.

In tomorrow’s diary, finally Torres

Day 6 Photo Splash

Enjoying the game with Nduka Irabor

Diego Simeone pensive before the penalty shootouts

Athletico Madrid midfielder, Saul Niguez and me

Harry Iwuala celebrates Nigeria's equalizer against Malaga