The atmosphere was magnificent, the pitch (field) breathtaking and stadium loud (thanks to the vuvuzelas). I arrived at the stadium 4 hours before kickoff to avoid any hold up or long story with traffic or ticket agents. Once we arrived we “tailgated” at the MTN fan zone booth where we played several games and hung out in the court yard. The more and more time we spent in the courtyard the more Argentinean fans started to outnumber Nigerian fans. By match time the ratio of Nigerian fans to Argentinean fans was 30 to 70. Granted the stadium had a large South African concession that generally supported Nigeria while few others supported Argentina or remained neutral.
I for one was disappointed by the lack of support our people showed on the day of the game. Argentina is five thousand miles away while Nigerian is about twenty-eight hundred miles away. Common laws of migration/geography will also tell you that there are more Nigerians in South Africa than Argentineans. Was it because Nigerians are cheap and cannot afford the tickets and the hassle of traveling? My Naija sense tells me no as I know we get that money. So it boils down to the fact that Nigerians are not as passionate about Football as our South American friends are. We claim to be the giant of Africa in football; I laugh at that because all we are clinging to is an Olympic title that we won 14 years ago. Mind you, we did not qualify for the 2006 world cup and we only scored 1 goal in the 2002 edition. Remember we barely qualified for the World Cup. I say this to say that we are a mediocre team in Africa not the giants that we have conjured up in our minds.
Our team does not help itself out as well. Some of our tactics are just straight from the bush. First of all, why would you arrive to Johannesburg the day before the biggest game in Nigeria football in eight years? Joburg is known to have high altitude so it makes breathing a task while exercising. The Nigerian Football Association was aware of the circumstance but chooses to ignore it. Secondly, was Lar drunk or possessed when he decided not to start Osaze and Oba? From the commentary I heard he planned to put them in to spark the game in the second half. Does that make sense? Osaze is generally recognized as our best and most hardworking player for the past few years; did Argentina bring Messi on for a spark? One aspect though that we have improved from the past is our goalkeeping. Vincent Enyeama played the game of his life and he will probably be handsomely rewarded somewhere in Europe.
I do not mean to sound like such as pessimist but I need to call a spade a spade. The state of Nigeria Football is one full of hype and no reward. I would much rather be like the Black Stars who under promise but always over deliver. I am calling all fans to support the team for our next two matches; hopefully this will lead to many more games after those two games. We also need to keep our mouth shut in regards to being the best team in Africa. Ghana, Egypt, Cote D’Ivoire, and Cameroon are more accomplished in the past 10 years.
I think I am done with my rant about our football team. I took some pictures from the Argentina please see below for your viewing pleasure. More pictures are available in the gallery.