Diary of a mad journo: LEAP IN A LEAP YEAR


I am a patriotic Nigerian, so when the federal government began the “made in Nigeria promo”, I decided to eat locally grown rice. That stony experience left its mark on my teeth. So I settled for a blend, a mix of locally grown and imported Tai rice. The outcome……

Last week, the Eagles battled the Wasps of Rwanda. Years ago, the substance of such a game would have been analogized by the flying animals they are named after.

But today such an analogy would be lost, its substance failing time and again in the now etched dictum of “no longer minnows in Africa football”.

Zambia winning the nations cup would quickly spring to mind for the proponents of the aphorism.

But we played Rwanda on the 29th of February, a day seen only once in four years.

It was the foundation of a new project, a project that should be complete we expect, in two years, two years shy of the next leap year.

We expect to write our name on the sands of Rio De Jeneiro and Sao Paolo, at least literally, seeing that our owambe officials of the NFF will hope to be in Brazil.

But what if Keshi fails? What if his mixture of home based Eagles and foreign based professionals fails to provide the right mix needed to propel our football beyond the mediocrity and insipidity we have become accustomed to before and after Monday Sinclair had that brief spell in charge of the team.

87 for Yobo
Only a heavy downpour, as heavy as that which saw a cancellation of the transmission of the ocean Boys-Kano Pillars game in Yenagoa last week would have been serious enough to stop a football match in Kigali.

That rain did not fall so the captain of Nigeria’s national team, Joseph Yobo got his 87th cap for the Eagles and climbed to the top of the pole as the player with most caps for the country.

For a player who started his game in the oil-spill ravaged pitches of Ogoni in Rivers state to the lofty heights of the land of the Ottomans in Turkey, you only need to hear Yobo speak to know how far his game has come.

His football is as refined as his inflection, that and his defending proof of his spell with Everton in England.

I remember Yobo in Nigeria 99’, playing out as a fringe striker and making a few cameo appearances.

The whereabouts of Haruna Babaginda, Julius Agahahowa, Pius Ikedia and Rabiu Afolabi is further proof of how far Yobo has come.

I remember Yobo at the 2002 World Cup, crossing as a right wing back for our solitary goal at that Mundial.

That he and Vincent Eyeama are the lone survivors form that side that had the likes of Femi Opabunmi, Justice Christopher and bicycle kick Bathlomew Ogbeche, all yum-yum(apologies Taribo West), should also remind Yobo of how far he has come.

He was there when Amodu Shuaibu toiled twice to qualify the country for the World Cup.

He was also there when Adeboye Onigbinde and Lars Lagerback were both brought in to take the team to the World Cup.

He has seen the pant sagging days of Daniel Amokachi as assistant, Austin Eguaveon twice and Coach Berti Vogts.

He has seen them all, down to the high handed days of Samson Siasia.

I don’t know if he met Sano Toro, but he has seen Sani Lulu and most likely has benefited from the political magnanimity of Amos Adamu off the pitch.

In Joseph Yobo’s time as a Super Eagles player, we have lost a first lady and a sitting president.

He even has a goal in the Nations Cup, something the last most capped player Kanu Nwankwo does not have.
But what will he be remembered for without a trophy? He guided the country to the last World Cup as captain, but Joseph must see the dream of most Nigerians come true by making sure he wins a trophy as captain.

That sadly was achieved last by the current coach of the team.

We will know how both will fare certainly by the time the next leap year comes around.
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