Gist: Heat break in Owerri …heart attack in Calabar  (Read 1209 times)

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Heat break in Owerri …heart attack in Calabar
by dayod247 « on: March 24, 2013, 10:02:11 PM »

By Paul Bassey
Let me quickly say this morning that I will pretend nothing happened in Calabar. In far away Ghana, I could not watch the match live, so I had to depend on second hand information.

My kids at home were filing me in every ten minutes……even as I was starring at the traumatic Livescore internet service that does not tell you much apart from the blinking timing.

When I saw something like a Kenya Goal, I quickly remembered colleagues that were in Calabar and frantically tried to reach them. Got George Aluo and he confirmed that the Kenyans were truly leading! Despite George’s belief that the Eagles were playing well enough for an equalizer and subsequent victory, anguish has an agonizing meaning.

As the match progressed and the minutes ticked painfully towards stoppage time, I did not just know what was happening. I have spoken to quite a couple of people including the President of the NFF, yet I am not in a position to comment authoritatively on the match.

Outside the match, I believe those who said the Nations Cup honeymoon is over, are now beating their chest with “ I told you so” expressions. Outside the match, I believe those who called for a Nations Cup  postmortem are now vindicated. That we needed to come home, analyse and review our success as it were and plot a forward graph.

That, we did not do, wasting time instead on unnecessary bickerings that has now set us backward. If the Kenya draw is a wake up call, I thank the Harambee Stars. I was at the Babayara Stadium in Kumasi when it was finally confirmed that we had forced the Kenyans to a draw and unbelief reigned. For the President of the GFA, it was an opportunity to remind the Black Stars that football can be stupid. That if Kenya can go to Nigeria and be forced to a draw by the Champions of Africa, then they should be careful against Sudan the next day!

Much as I wished we were as emphatic in our post Nations Cup performance like the Ivoriens and the Burkinabe’s I did say I was not going to write about that match until I have the opportunity of seeing a video of it.

Let me talk about a match in which I was physically present, the CAF Confederations Cup encounter between Heartland of Owerri and Union Sportive Bitam of Gabon.

The moment I landed in Owerri, I knew things were not well. The body language of the officials said it all. Confidence was lacking in the team camp and the ambience and atmosphere was that of despair.

Twice, I have seen Governor Rochas in Lagos, come to cart away the Federation Cup, and twice I have been tempted to clap as he spoke glowingly about the team that has helped to re emphasise the history of Imo in Nigeria’s sports circles, five trophies in two years to boot.

   To get to Owerri and discover that the team lacks executive support was disheartening. Bless those governors who will seize this opportunity with both hands to highlight the prowess of their state!

On match day, thirty minutes to kick off the stadium was virtually empty. The stadium itself was nothing to write home about. Chalk was used to write the names of the teams on the score board while the key to the referee’s dressing room is bad.

The team’s dug out is a row of plastic chairs without any protection from the elements and missiles from a disenchanted crowd….this, was certainly not an atmosphere for a continental competition.

Then the team. I have no sympathy for them. I told a friend that the moment they stepped on that turf, they should have known that they were also being given an opportunity to display their wares in an international market. You cannot say because your emoluments have not been paid or promises not kept, you will go out there and dish out sub standard stuff.

They were not just good enough on the day.

The negative tactics and antics of the Gabonese necessitated seven minutes added time, yet even if the referee had given them thirty minutes, there was no how that team would have scored. They were tactically undisciplined in front of goal while the defenders were a sorry sight as the Gabonese came forward.

At the end of ninety minutes with the score at 2-1, the Gabonese jubilated. As far as they were concerned, they need only one goal to proceed. Football is not always like that. I can see Heartland shocking their host if they get the “ motivation and lack of government support phenomenon” out of their system.

I wish I had had the opportunity of talking to them before the match, to tell them that after beating the Gabonese, they progress not only in the competition but in their quest for better football fortunes in the continent.

I want to believe that the team is ready for the massive war this week end that will involve all sort of antics. They should not be surprised but prepared. And you need funds to be ready. Funds to check into another hotel different from the likely bad one that the host will provide. Funds to hire alternative buses and cars. Funds to buy and provide your own meals. When Heartland land in Libreville, they will be transported by air to another city, from there they should brace up for a 100 kilometre drive to Bitam….. they should be prepared and not allow ANYTHING TO WEAR THEM DOWN AND MAKE THEM LOSE FOCUS.

After that, they should go into the field and target that away goal that will restart the match from scratch and come back victorius.

This message is also for all our teams in Africa, especially Pillars who will be tempted to rest on their 4-1 oars ( Ask Heartland their experience last year) and Rangers who must guide against their opponents scoring an away goal here. Good luck Nigeria.

-- Vanguard


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