|With Thembi Kgatlana|
By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam
It was my first morning in the city of seven hills. The day for the last set of pre-match press conferences for the tournament.
My first port of call was Mont Febe, the hotel where South Africa and Cameroon are lodged.
The Banyana Banyana were the main reason I went there. I needed to have a chat with their goalkeeper, Andile Dlamini, who is a first choice goalkeeper in a tournament for the first time, since she made her debut with the senior team.
And also Thembi Kgatlana, whose pace can trouble any defence.
I met our Kenyan friend and colleague, Julia, there. We were actually communicating via Whatsapp before I took a cab.
The first cab man that wanted to take me told me 2000 CFA. I did not even answer him again. Then I called Julia who told me she paid 1500 CFA but felt like she was cheated because she was later told she should have paid 800 - 1000 CFA.
With that in mind, I flagged down another cab which took me to the hotel, which was not so high up a mountain, for 800 CFA.
Julia was already having an interview with Janine van Wyk, the captain of the South African side. So I approached Linda and Noko, who were waiting for their turn to their turn to get into Julia's hot seat. Noko helped me call the media officer of the team.
When Namhla Mphelo came down, I told her what my mission was, and she called Andile Dlamini and Thembi Kgatlana for me. I did an extensive interview with these two and felt good with myself. Where I would have the 'wahala' now would be in transcribing.
After Julia and I were done with South Africa, we went to the lobby downstairs to see if we could catch one or two Cameroon players. We waited till they finished their lunch, but afterwards, even their captain refused to talk. They all spoke French by the way, so that was another big issue.
We had thought of seeing the Media officer, Leocadia, first, but she was not in the hotel. She had left alongside the coach and a player for their press conference. However, when we contacted her, she said they would only be available for interviews after the final on Saturday.
While we were about leaving the hotel, we caught with coach Desiree Ellis, who was at that time late for lunch. But by the time she was done telling us her itinerary for the rest of the day, 6pm was the only available time left. I didn't go back, but Julia did.
From Mont Febe, Julia and I got into another cab headed for Djeuga Palace hotel, where Nigeria and Ghana are lodged. We needed to speak to Ghanaian players.
On our way, an elderly got in. After a while, she started speaking French to me, but since I didn't understand, the driver interpreted. She asked me if I had a ticket, but I told her no because I don't need tickets to go into the stadium. I had already told her I was a journalist and she even looked at my tag and gave me thumbs up. Afterwards she said, Cameroon will beat Nigeria 2-0.
After enduring traffic jam on the road, Julia and I finally arrived at Nigeria and Ghana's hotel. We had an interesting interview with Elizabeth Addo, Portia Boakye and Suleman Samira.
It was after that we went our separate ways. Julia needed to change some money, while I needed to go for Nigeria's press conference.
I missed the press conference though, but I watched the first 15 minutes of their training. That was the much time the media got. By this time, I was so hungry and tired that I began to get angry.
To make matters worse, the CAF bus that had offered to carry us for free started wasting time while we were already inside the bus.
While on our way finally, we were told about a dinner organised by the Minister of Communications at 8pm tomorrow and before we went to our various hotels, we visited the Minister at the Ministry of Communications.
We finally got to the hotel.