Posts Tagged Nigeria

Random Yarns: Now That You’re Here…

Firstly, Professor Attahiru Jega and INEC deserve your ‘general’ commendation for their conduct through this delicate period of Nigeria’s political history.

Despite many instances in which the process of electing you into office could have been perilously scuppered, Jega and his officials personified expensive composure to quell such.


Daddy Cool

Especially, had Jega reacted any manner lower than the esteemed standard he did when confronted by Godsday Orubebe during the announcement of collated results from each State, who knows if your party and the opposition would be contacting your lawyers and bracing for court days and more smear campaigns.

Instead, it’s congratulatory messages you and yours are getting at the moment, as you prepare for that time at the end of May when the -elect suffix would drop and you become President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


President-elect Muhammadu Buhari

Before then, did you notice how the phrase in the penultimate paragraph read ‘… your party and the opposition’? Just on the flip side of the week, you and the party you represent were the opposition. Turns out, c’est la vie.

Now that you have the people’s mandate to be resident at Aso Rock along with your lovely wife and lovelier daughter Zahra (oh, you have other children?), let the good work begin.

No miracles, though one or two would be much appreciated. All man would love to see happen is concrete signs of progression and a government that actually can be ‘bothered about it’; whatever it could be.


‘It’ includes a closure to the Chibok girls’ issue. Can you bring them back? Perhaps, perhaps not. Are they dead and gone? Or alas, have they been turned by their captives? Whatever it is, a closure on the matter is necessary.

Next, man would so much appreciate if you don’t allow he who is also known as Jagaban to have any negative influence over your decision making. Otherwise, you’ll start putting up toll gates at every available State border in the country for the sake of ‘projects’.

The projects that man would rather see materialise include refining of our crude oil and more crucially, selling most of the refined products here.


Power supply is another project you could work upon and the logic is simple; the halo effect from regular power supply would directly result in the sanity of product prices since fuel – refined locally – won’t be smoked off by industrial generators at our Cadburys, Lafarges and Dangotes.

Aliko Dangote, every pseudo-orphan’s long lost father, grandfather, oldest brother, mentor and what not, and supposedly one of the financiers of Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign. What now for Africa’s (official) richest person?

Honestly, couldn’t be bothered what happens with cousin Aliko now, what is more pertinent is providing widespread opportunities for the youth to take up various forms of entrepreneurship and help boost the economy from the oil-dependent brat it is at the moment.

Bringing us to the likes of Diezani Allison-Madueke, Femi Fani Kayode, Stella Oduah and more who have questionable clouds over them, loudly grumbling thunderous demands for answers by way of some form of their persecution.

The general expectation is that the General would go locking up the corrupt, like he got the Harvey Dent Act got enacted by the Nigerian constitution.

So many more things really, jobs, security, better telecoms, two Kopiko for N5 rather than one, a dearth of Dokubos and Shekaus, academic competitions having prize money equivalent to or greater than those won on ‘talent’ hunt shows and more.

But, just as Nigerians made their votes count and succeeded in handing an incumbent the quit notice, the onus remains on us all to continue where we began with the elections and make Nigeria the better country we wish it to be.

Try not to litter the roads or gutters with empty wraps and bottles of gala and LaCasera, no matter how horrid the traffic you just endured was.

Finally, and I honestly don’t know why this has been hovering on my mind long time, but sir, you’re not allowed to pass away any time soon, for country’s sake and Zahra too.

Last thing Nigeria can deal with ever again is having another good man suddenly find himself with a nation to lead in the midst of scheming bloodthirsty wolves ready to mislead the unassuming shepherd astray (read: to the ‘slaughterhouse’).

God bless Nigeria and Nigerians. Amen!

And God bless Professor Otu, the Rivers State INEC C. O. who came up and went Alibaba on the nation.


Prof. Otu needed that halogen

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It is quite a contrast when a couple of your loved ones have the grace to celebrate the blessing of new borns in their families right in a period when some two hundred girls have been missing for more than a fortnight.

Bad enough that 234 girls got kidnapped from school and most remain missing ever since, the girls were taken by Boko Haram but worst of all, the country seems powerless in bringing the girls back home alive.

Once upon a time, the Nigerian military used to be reverred as arguably the best foot soldiers in the world yet if the case now is about one military man allegedly giving testimony of his time at Borno and lobbying to not return there because the insurgents they went after are better equipped… which way then for the military and Nigeria?

It is even more worrisome that there could be moles in the military giving away their plans to the insurgents, a thought which has been alluded as a reason for the insurgents successfully ambushing our military men who come after them.

If such is the case in a highly sensitive situation, then it is well past the time to start pondering on what to do in the event that these insurgents decide to make their hobby of chaos a truly national dilemma; ‘truly’ because in the view of some, the absence of the insurgents’ violence in their parts of the country means it’s not really a concerning issue.

But when an explosion occurs in a crowded motor park too soon after the SSS office, right by Aso Villa, came under siege… less than three years after the explosion at the United Nations building, all in Abuja… the nation’s capital, clearly makes the current situation a national concern that must be dealt with.

Those incidents along with the others attributed to Boko Haram in the last three years surely makes one see the true nature of the issue we must deal with before it consumes us.

As at this moment however, it remains apparent that the President doesn’t see the matter as one not to take lightly and thus, questions the Commander-in-Chief title that comes with his office. Instead, a politicising of the problem seems the way this government is taking.

It is then left to we the citizens who ‘put’ him in that position to take sensible steps towards reuniting the girls with their families first, then putting competent people who will actually serve to make the system better afterwards.

That said, the cry for and hope that our missing girls get found and returned home safely as soon as possible is not just stemming from their kidnap alone but their kidnap is an unfortunate crux in a wide fiery complex threatening to unleash a chaos most of us have not experienced.

Bringing our girls back home would not only restore the happiness of hundreds of despairing parents but also begin to assure them (somewhat) and the rest of us in the country that we can feel safe again.

For now, it is a major worry that insurgents can resist and even defeat the nation’s military and one only hopes, for the sake of the new borns and young ones who have little or no idea of what is going on, that matters don’t descend into a state that can only be brought about from an abyss unimaginable.

It is well.

Note: The second Nyanya explosion happened about 30 minutes after this post was published.

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Over the Weekend: Pillars Retain League Title, Nigerian Wave Rips Mexico Apart and More

Here I was mellow mocking Shooting Stars of Ibadan early in the week since the Ibadan club faced inevitable relegation from the Premier League, two matches (to end the season) after and alas, Kwara United got relegated as well.

Such was the dramatic nature with which the 2012/13 Nigeria Premier League ended on Sunday, with another Ilorin club ABS FC joining the two in being relegated despite thrashing Nembe City 6-1 in their penultimate match of the season in midweek.

At the brighter end of the table meanwhile, only three points separated the top four finishers, with Kano Pillars winning the league title by a mere point despite losing 2-0 at Lobi Stars on the final day.

Enyimba, that had been put out of title contention in a midweek loss at Sunshine Stars, finished second with 62 points while Bayelsa United finished with 61 points and El-Kanemi Warriors ended in fourth place with 60 points.

Pillars’ title win makes the northern side the first, since Enyimba did 10 years ago, to successfully defend the league title. Both clubs will now be Nigeria’s representatives for next season’s CAF Champions League.

In this season’s Champions League, defending champions Al-Ahly of Egypt will come up against South Africa’s Orlando Pirates, after beating Cameroun’s Coton Sport 7-6 on penalties in Cairo.

Pirates had overcome Esperance in Tunis on aggregate despite drawing their first leg goalless, while Al-Ahly came through on penalties after both legs against Coton Sport of Cameroun ended in 1-1 draws.

Away from the continent but still, mostly, about the continent, Nigeria began her quest for a record fourth FIFA U17 World Cup title with an emphatic 6-1 dispatch of their Mexican counterparts on Saturday.

The duo of Kelechi Ineanacho and Success Isaac orchestrated the wave that blew the Mexicans apart, with Isaac the Özil of the Golden Eaglets while Ineanacho finished the match with four goals.

The competition had begun with Brazil recording same score in their match against Slovakia, while Uruguay thrashed New Zealand 7-0 in another encounter.

Cote D’Ivoire lost by a lone goal to Italy before drawing their second match 1-1 against Uruguay while Brazil got a second 6-1 win, this time against host nation United Arab Emirates on Sunday.

Africa’s other representatives though have begun well like Nigeria, with Morocco getting a 3-1 win over Croatia in their opening Group C match while Tunisia beat Venezuela 2-1 in their opening Group D match.

Surely a few decent and big European clubs (at least Porto, Ajax and probably a few English clubs) will have scouts watching on the progress of such players as Isaac, Ineanacho, Nathan of Brazil among a few others.

One teenager whose somewhat made it to the big time though is 18 year old Adnan Januzaj, who over the weekend signed a new five year deal with Manchester United and laid to rest his club future at least.

The Belgian/Croat/Serbian/Albanian/Turkish/could-be-English-if-he-chooses teenager will reportedly now earn £30,000 per week, a vast improvement from the previous thousand pound per week contract he was on.

On the field however, his presence failed to transcend a vast improvement of the club’s fortunes as Southampton came away from Old Trafford with a 1-1 draw in a Premier League match on Saturday.

The result leaves the Red Devils in eighth place with 11 points while Southampton dropped to sixth with 15 points, behind Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference after Spurs won 2-0 at Aston Villa and ahead of Everton on goal difference after the Toffees won 2-1 at home to Hull City (Tigers).

Chelsea now occupy second spot with 17 points after an eventful 4-1 win over Cardiff City in a match that witnessed Samuel Eto’o nick the ball while the Cardiff goalkeeper, having made a save, bounced it while preparing to take a goal-kick.

Eto’o’s wit led to Chelsea’s equaliser, before further goals including the Cameroun striker’s first for the club won the three points for the Londoners, whose manager Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands. The ‘Happy One’ would later ‘miss’ the post-match conference.

Elsewhere, Liverpool could only draw 2-2 at 10-man Newcastle United to drop to third behind Chelsea on goal difference while Manchester City is a point behind in fourth after a brace and an assist from Sergio Agüero gave City a 3-1 win at West Ham United.

And Arsenal opened a two-point lead at the top of the league after some sublime football led to the 4-1 defeat of Norwich City through goals from Jack Wilshere, a Mesut Özil brace (including his first ever headed goal) and an emphatic Aaron Ramsey finish.

The Gunners’ focus is now on their third UEFA Champions League match at home to Borussia Dortmund, with the German side coming into the match on the back of a 1-0 win over Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga.

That win kept the bumblebees in second place with 21 points, a point behind Bayern Munich that came from a goal down to crush Mainz 4-1 courtesy of Mario Götze who provided three of the goals there.

Bayer Leverkusen is third with 21 points after getting a 2-1 win at Hoffenheim on Friday in rather odd circumstance, with Sidney Sam giving Leverkusen the lead before Stefan Kießling’s header was counted as a goal despite the ball going into the net through a hole in the sidenetting.

Hannover would then pull a goal back before coming ever so close to an equaliser in the dying minutes, only to be denied by the Leverkusen goalkeeper and twice by the goalpost in a frenetic two seconds.

In the Spanish La Liga, Lionel Messi returned from injury but was unable to prevent Osasuna getting a point from the encounter which ended in a goalless draw.

That result ended Barcelona’s perfect start to the season, having won their opening eight matches heading into the match. Barça though now hold a one point lead over Atletico Madrid whose perfect start also came to an end with Espanyol beating Atletico 1-0 in the pseudo-Clasico.

Both results allowed third placed Real Madrid to come within two points of their city rival and three points of their archrival thanks to a 2-0 win over Malaga with goals from Angel di Maria and a late Cristiano Ronaldo penalty.

In Italy however, Roma maintained their perfect start to the season by winning 2-0 at home to second placed Napoli and also ended with the weekend five points clear of the league as Juventus failed to take advantage of Napoli’s loss.

The Old Lady relinquished a 2-0 lead to lose 4-2 at Fiorentina to remain in third place, followed by Hellas Verona with 16 points while Inter Milan and Fiorentina have 15 points with Inter coming away from Turin with a 3-3 draw against Torino.

In France, Paris Saint Germain opened a two point lead at the top of the league thanks to a 4-0 bashing of Bastia with Zlatan scoring two goals including another memorable backheeled goal to add to his collection of audacious goals.

Monaco remain second but saw a 2-0 lead disappear as the principality club was held 2-2 at Sochaux while title rival Olympique Marseille stumbled further, losing 1-0 on Friday.

Still with the French but in tennis, Richard Gasquet hopped over compatriot Jo-Wilfred Tsonga to occupy the final ATP World Tour Final slot after the former won the Kremlin Cup and the latter lost in the semi-final of the Austrian Open.

With one tournament left to play for each player ahead of the London finale which serves off November 4, only three players – Rafael Nadal, defending champion Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer – are outrightly guaranteed of their place.

Juan Martin Del Potro, Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka would confirm their places with good enough showings this week while Roger Federer could still miss out altogether if he performs poorly this week and two of the four players behind him do well.

Those players are Gasquet, Tsonga, Canadian Milos Raonic and German veteran Tommy Haas who gave himself an outside chance of making the London finale by winning the Austrian Open with a 6-3 4-6 6-4 win over Robin Haase.

Federer meanwhile has stated he would be more delighted to see compatriot Wawrinka make the Tour Final than him, having not missed the season’s curtain-closer in the last 11 years.

And with that, it’s the curtain call for this post. On this day, former England international Paul Ince is born in 1967, Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic is born in 1981 and television star Kim Kardashian is born in 1980.

Tomorrow, the Golden Eaglets take on Sweden in what should be their group’s star match while Arsène Wenger will hope for a 64th birthday present with an Arsenal win over Dortmund tomorrow night.

And to you reading, hope you have a great week ahead!

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Over the Weekend: League Begins in Nigeria, Wigan in Cup Hysteria and Much More

Formerly known as the Nigerian Premier League, the Nigerian Professional Football League, after many delays to its commencement, finally went underway for the ‘2012/13’ season over the weekend with a number of outstanding results.

Defending champions Kano Pillars picked up from where it finished last season off with a lone goal win away at Wikki Tourists of Bauchi. Now, considering the potential violence that can erupt over an away team’s ‘audacity’ to claim all three points in the league; whatever name it is referred to, Pillars’ bodes well for the league’s image on the larger picture.

Hence, the biggest and most unexpected result of the weekend came from Owerri where Federation Cup (Nigeria’s FA Cup) holders Heartland fell to a 2-1 defeat, at home, to Nembe City… a newly promoted side. While it doesn’t guarantee Nembe will pull a Swansea for the rest of the season, it is most refreshing such result can occur.

The season kicked off in Enugu on Saturday where Rangers edged rivals and last season’s runner-up Enyimba by a lone goal while a goalless draw was played out in Ilorin between city rivals ABS and Kwara United.

Shooting Stars of Ibadan claimed a 2-0 win over Gombe United, Dolphins of Port-Harcourt lost by a lone goal at Akwa United as did Lobi Stars and Kaduna United at Bayelsa United and Sunshine Stars respectively, while Sharks beat Warri Wolves 2-1 in Port-Harcourt.

It’s great to see the league kick off here after much bickering in the boardroom, bickering which has been the major bane of the league’s growth for years and a lasting absence of such can only have the league produce more Sunday Mbas for the national team as well as see the clubs perform creditably in continental competitions consistently.

Having satisfied the saying about charity’s roots, three goals in a four-minute spell midway through the first half saw to Everton’s shock exit from the English FA Cup at the hands of Wigan Athletic, leaving David Moyes still without a trophy in his entire career. Gooners, take note.

However, when Wigan’s knack for going on a hot streak of form with the season winding up is considered, the win at Everton becomes less of a shock but the scoreline remains so. Before the match, Moyes had stressed the importance of winning the Cup, a view mirrored by a number of his players and indeed they played well, it just wasn’t meant to be for Everton.

Elsewhere lower league outfits Millwall and Blackburn Rovers will meet again at Ewood Park after playing out a goalless draw on Sunday while Carlos Tevez was the driving force behind Manchester City’s 5-0 demolition of Barnsley, scoring a hattrick and getting an assist too.

The tie of the round came from Old Trafford with Chelsea coming from two goals down and earn a replay in a 2-2 draw. Thankfully, Howard Webb didn’t take the spotlight of a Manchester United match for once, but the managers did.

In an outgoing week the Red Devils had to deal with going out of Europe in ‘that’ manner along with speculation over Wayne Rooney’s future and his weight, Rafa Benitez piled a bit more (or has attempted to) for United to deal with after stating that Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t shake hands with him before the match.

Both managers, with a bad blood history from Benitez’s Liverpool days, didn’t share a handshake at full time either with Benitez saying he was “with my players celebrating”. And on the pre-match handshake snub, “I was waiting for him at the beginning, so you should ask him. I have education. I was ready.”

Rafa, funny man. Trying to ease the pressure on himself by taking on another manager when there’s a replay to prepare for may not be the best idea (his spat with Mourinho while at Inter Milan comes to mind) and now, I have a feeling it would be a painful end to the FA Cup for Chelsea come March 20.

The winner of that replay will face Manchester City in a ‘final before the final’ while Wigan’s four-minute win has been rewarded by a draw to face either Blackburn or Millwall in a match that will likely see its winner qualify for Europe regardless of the outcome in the final.

That is because their potential final opponents look odds on to clinch European spots in the Premier League and thus wouldn’t require the Europa League berth from winning the FA Cup, with Man. United favourites to win the league, Man. City some way off in second place but looking sure bets to qualify for next season’s Champions League and Chelsea chasing a top four finish to make the Champions League or at worst finish in fifth (or sixth) and reach the Europa League.

Chelsea’s, and Arsenal’s push for a top four finish was helped by Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-2 loss at Liverpool, a match that could have seen Spurs actually go within two points of second place and five points clear in third place had they won.

Gareth Bale didn’t score for the first time in seven matches, but he did provide the Spurs goals scored by Jan Vertonghen. However it was Luis Suarez that shone brighter, opening the scoring early on to take his league tally to 22 goals before winning a late penalty which Steven Gerard converted for the win.

Liverpool have now won three successive league matches as well as gained only a second win over a team in the top half of the league as the Reds push for a Europa League place.

The win got Liverpool to sixth on 45 points, two points behind Arsenal that however has a game in hand at home to out of form Everton that is in seventh place behind their Merseyside rivals on goal difference.

Other results from league matches played saw West Brom come from behind to beat Swansea 2-1 and replace their opponents in eighth place while the biggest results were QPR’s 3-1 win over Sunderland, which puts QPR just four points off safety, and Aston Villa’s 2-1 win at 19th placed Reading, getting Villa out of the relegation zone.

In Europe, PSG went five points clear in France with a comeback 2-1 win over Nancy coupled with a goalless draw between Olympique Lyon and Olympique Marseille in second and third respectively.

Juventus and AC Milan were the big winners in Italy, with Juve opening a nine point gap at the top courtesy of a lone goal win over Catania coupled with second placed Napoli’s lone goal loss at Chievo Verona.

Milan got a 2-0 win at Genoa on Friday and is now two points off second place and four points clear in third after Inter was beaten at home by struggling Bologna while Lazio also got beaten at home by Fiorentina, the latter rising two places to fourth as a result.

In Spain, Lionel Messi scored his 40th league goal and extended his run of scoring to 17 consecutive La Liga matches, as Barcelona beat Deportivo 2-0. Atletico’s lone goal loss ensured Barça is now 13 points clear at the top with Real Madrid now in second place thanks to a 2-1 win at Celta Vigo, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring both goals for Real and becoming the first player ever to score 25+ goals in his first four seasons in Spain.

Both players stay setting records with reckless abandon and so is Bayern Munich, after twice coming from behind to claim a 3-2 win and go 20 points clear atop the Bundesliga. Second placed Borussia Dortmund lost 2-1 at Schalke in the Ruhr derby while third placed Bayer Leverkusen failed to take advantage as it lost by a lone goal at Mainz. If all goes well, Bayern will win the league over the next three matches, with six games to spare then.

The phenomenal Bavarians, in their treble quest, will now focus on making the last eight of the Champions League when Arsenal visit the Allianz Arena with Bayern holding a 3-1 lead from the first leg.

Barça on their part have a 2-0 deficit to overturn against AC Milan while Schalke will be spurred by its Ruhr derby win to go past visiting Galatasaray as the Royals, along with Bayern, look to join Dortmund and make it three German clubs in the last eight.

For long, the argument has been on what league between Spain’s and England’s is the best. Now it seems the Bundesliga has not only joined that race but is leading it.

That however is another day’s discussion, it’s a wrap for now on what was a most eventful weekend.

Do have a productive week ahead.

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During the Week: Drugs & Cons, Refs of AFCON and Silly BON

A chain of very daring tweets innocently inspired by a sportsman across the atlantic bearing his mind on the matter of ‘tell me you never… never ever… not even once thought that fella was on some crack? Really?’ provoked a lot of thought on how clean the sporting world is.

Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt, Roger Federer, Cristiano Ronaldo, the Spanish national team, CF Barcelona, Robin van Persie, Novak Djokovic, Zinedine Zidane, Iker Casillas (I’ll explain his appearance), Rafael Nadal, Andrea Pirlo, Edinson Cavani, Andy Murray, Radamel Falcao, Thiago Silva, the Klitschko brothers, Caster Semanya, Yohan Blake…

Look what you’ve caused Lance Armstrong!

That chain of tweets mentioned some of the names above and inspired other names to my mind. Why Casillas? The man has been especially off colour this season. Became too settled being undisputed number one for club and country? Or simply got struck off the list of EPO recipients? Tweets suggest the latter, I am just an observer.

Novak Djokovic? I most certainly, pleading eyes to high heavens hope not! He (along with Murray for a while) is my favourite tennis player and oh such joy I felt when the Djoker broke the ‘duopoly’ of Rafa and Roger.

Then came 2011, the phenomenal year in which he didn’t suffer a defeat until half the year was gone when he lost in the semi final of Roland Garros, but going right on to win at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows to add to the first of three successive Australian Open titles.

Djokovic played 76 matches in 2011 and lost just six, most of which came at the end of the tennis calendar after the US Open. Three Grand Slams and a record five Masters titles after a 2010 that saw him peak to the last four at just one of the Slams? Inspiration or inspillration? I’ll stick with the former.

Indeed a lot of us have mentioned how disappointing it would be if Usain Bolt went the Ben Johnson way, not many if not any have however given thought to Zeus’ godfather incarnate in Messi.

Diego Maradona abused drugs despite his at times egocentric yet undeniable immense talent with the round leather, why not Messi? Maybe the growth hormone drug used on him were much more? Otherwise he may well be a Mathieu Valbuena.

Back to that chain of tweets, it was implied also that two seasons’ worth of matches were fixed for years and, more worrisome, that the authorities turned a blind eye to these as they did the doping. Something that probably got monsieur Wenger going ‘Atcha! No wonder we haven’t won anything all the while’.

Match-fixing in the Serie A? Too easy, it’s almost a habit there. In the La Liga? Maybe, maybe not. In the Premier League or involving Premier League clubs? I’ll simply blame Howard Webb for that.

Seriously though, the thought of a match being thrown in favour of Liverpool, Bayern Munich and the likes makes me wonder ‘why bother fixing a match the club you’re fixing it for should easily win anyway?’, ‘Just to make sure since a lot of money’s being bet on them’?

One would love to say such thinking was also the motivation behind the second semi-final between Ghana and Burkina Faso at the about-to-conclude Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.

With Mali’s Eagles soundly beaten by the Super Eagles of Nigeria, the continent was 90 minutes away from what would be a bookmaker’s delight of a final between neighbouring rivals. Alas! After two hours of football, some abysmal officiating along and the lottery of spot kicks, Ghana failed to make the final yet again.

And Jonathan Pitroipa is set to feature in Sunday’s showpiece after the referee of that second semi-final admitted his error in sending Pitroipa off, leading CAF, in all its (delayed) wisdom, to understand the importance of the tournament showpiece being as competitive as posibble while also giving that referee a red card from AFCON.

That would be the second match official sent home by Issa Hayatou’s confederation, which about sums the level of officiating we’ve lived through the last fortnight. But the Zambian coach should’ve kept his conspiracy theory of CAF not wanting the dethroned champions to retain the Cup just so a fancier team could represent the continent at the Confederations Cup to himself.

If the now sanctioned man has forgotten, his Zambia were not so deserving of qualifying from the group stage and more tellingly, enjoyed the benevolence of the first official sent home by CAF for awarding a penalty to his team off a non-extant foul in the draw with Nigeria.

Nigeria meanwhile are overwhelming favourites now to win the Nations Cup, having defeated pre-tournament favourites Cote D’Ivoire before easing past Mali with a masterclass. More so when one considers that the Burkinabes only earned a draw with the last kick of the group stage match between both sides.

Then, the draw happened on an excuse of a pitch, but nonetheless with both sides playing some abjectly unattractive football. On Sunday, the pitch would be far better and both sides have improved dramatically during the course of the tournament. Can Pitroipa, Bance and the rest of the Burkinabes go all the way? Damn right they can, Zambia did humble Cote D’Ivoire only a year ago when the odds seemed all for the Elephants.

However, I do believe Nigeria will nick it on Sunday and claim a third Nations Cup triumph. Why? Apart from the Super Eagles, previously minnows looking a much improved side now, the coach may have motivated the players after revealing to them (reportedly after the Mali match) that the Nigeria Football Federation had booked return flights for the team, without his knowledge, before the quarterfinal match with the Elephants.

The NFF, somehow, by some mysterious convention, always… ALWAYS find a way of going one worse than before with their dealings. Yes, not many of us remotely considered we’d beat the Ivorians but booking flights home before the match? I’m just nonplussed here!

Imagine now the amounts lost just to return those tickets (which I doubt, the returning) or spent to keep those tickets till when they actually would be needed, which now is some time next week.

Most annoyingly, it is in this hour just before the twelfth that the Broadcast Organisation of Nigeria have decided paying for tv rights to the AFCON would be worth it. After Super Sport has made all the revenue possible? Who are these people?

If CAF’s price seemed outrageous, be inventive and negotiate a favourable deal. No… Nigeria wasn’t expected to go this far. What pessimism will cost us in this country.

With that, it’s a wrap from me. League football, fixed or not, are good to go this weekend ahead of the Champions League knock-out matches from next week. Even St. Valentine should… ah nevermind, have a great weekend.

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Over the Weekend: Undereagles Soar, Révolution à Chateauneuf et Balotelli à Milano

What is an African Cup of Nations? One in which a west African nation will defend the Cup in north Africa two years after winning it in South Africa where a southern African nation was dethroned? That would be it, mostly, as the east African nations basically put up a no show.

Following a slow start to the 2013 AFCON, the goals started coming and perhaps more importantly, we were gradually served up largely entertaining matches and now, an all west African semi-final.

Ghana was first into the last four, ending a fairytale that came from the mediterranean cape to its maiden Nations Cup appearance at the expense of Lions made domitable, before coming from a goal down to get a late winner and make the last eight from a group it contested with hosts South Africa, the unfortunate Moroccans their neighbour and a desperately disappointing Angola that isn’t even close to being as good as the shadow of the side that was an an Eagle’s cryptonite on their way to the 2006 World Cup.

Cape Verde impressed many with their football, proof of them being cousins with the Portuguese – and indeed Manchester United’s midfielder Nani has a cousin in the Blue Sharks team – and after a nervous first half against Ghana, they succumbed to a penalty; which sparked perhaps their best football display all tournament, and a stoppage time goal off a punt forward with the goal unguarded.

A painful exit yet a most admirable maiden appearance from the Blue Sharks who without doubt are one of AFCON 2013’s highlights. There focus now will turn to the second round of qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup, where ironically they lie bottom of Group B without a point after two matches; a group led by Tunisia that didn’t go past the group stage of the ongoing AFCON.

Next after Cape Verde’s heroics was undereagles Nigeria’s downing of the mighty Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire, overly overwhelming favourites for the Cup only to, yet again, fall short just as Spain used to and the Netherlands still do.

Ivorian goalkeeper Barry did not see Emenike’s incoming bullet for Nigeria’s first goal and though the Ivorians equalised minutes into the second half, Nigeria to my surprise was not entirely outplayed, as both sides created chances to get a winner.

And what a winner it was, magnificent solo effort from Sunday Mba who gliding past a number of Elephants from midfield and sent a shot past Barry, with the help of a slight deflection but who cares, it was the match winner, a worthy one too.

Two things I got from that match, however pessimistic one is about something that is a part of you, you’ll end up still hoping for that thing’s best. Secondly, Mba’s goal was great advertisement for the Nigerian Premier League; where a new season should kick-off mid-February barring any more trivial administrative raucous.

Okay there was a third, which is the grace in defeat shown by the Ivorian team who wished their Nigerian counterparts to go on and win the Cup. We’ll first have to go past Mali to accomplish that.

Right… there was a fourth lesson from the match, which is @TheRealEboue is not the real Eboue. Or maybe folks on twitter just enjoy… never mind.

I’ll be damned but… there’s a fifth thing I got from that match, and I’m not particularly elated by it, by Gervinho’s imminent return to the Arsenal set-up earlier than scheduled for he had promised to make up for his penalty miss in last year’s AFCON final by scoring the Cup winning goal this time.

Arsenal may well do with his return, as the Gunners currently lie in sixth place on the Premier League table but just five points off third placed Chelsea that lost to le révolution de France à Châteauneuf.

Newcastle United, Châteauneuf Uni in a fairly rough sense, are a team reborn with the influx of French nationals to the team and though it was Argentine Jonas Gutierrez that headed Alan Pardew’s side ahead on Saturday, a brace from Moussa Sissokho earned the Magpies a last minute 3-2 win in a highly thrilling affair that saw the Blues score two early second half goals to overturn Gutierrez’s opener; Mata’s goal still setting nerve ends in my brain loose with the sheer finesse he scored it with. Gosh.

Another revolution set in motion meanwhile heralded in the Serie A where Mario ‘why always me?’ Balotelli marked his debut for AC Milan with both goals in a 2-1 win over Udinese. Last time someone got a brace on their Milan debut, he ended up being prolific for the Rossoneri. That person was Oliver Bierhoff.

As it is a new start for Balotelli in a city he knows very well, it seems also to mark a new era for Milan, notoriously known for being the club of pensioners. With Mario, El-Sharwama and Niang however, the Rossoneri blood is being freshened and a second round tango with Barcelona in the Champions League is just about an appropriate test of that.

On that young shall grow note, it’s a wrap. Going on a break here was hard but necessary and today, I’ll write my last first semester paper; French. Rather than be a show-off I’ll keep it simple and bid you au revoir jusqu’à samedi matin.

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Random Yarns

Twitter can be a lot of fun when observing, such as yesterday evening till this morning when tweeters went on about people sending broadcasts ‘warning’ people to stop sending broadcasts.

The general consensus on Nigerian twitter is wishing people “happy new month” is basically a lame thing to do, more so when done in a broadcast.

Happy new month by the way. Worse still though, the day that ushers this new month in happens to be Nigeria’s 52nd independence anniversary.

Happy independence anniversary Nigerians.

Cue in the reminders of leftovers from bad governance, current and past, to go along with the prevailent “be patriotic!” vs. “Nigeria is a failure” undercurrent verbal battles that ever rages, with a number of indifferent ones observing the raucous nearby while a few others are busy enriching themselves far away at the echelons.

Then when the next general elections come, and a few voices of hope begin to beg the electorate to exercise their franchise wisely, cold feet sets in and irrational decisions are made.

Well I hope that won’t be the case when it comes to that time. There was power to watch the man in power give his speech but I didn’t watch. I’m just waiting for when I can vote and end the nightmare that is this PDP government.

I believe our young ones will have it much better, well I hope so personally. Saw all my nieces and nephew together at one place for the first time since their births and, maybe that spirit of ‘responsibility’ is still far from me, but I know I believe they and their coming siblings will live a much better life than us.

That said, I was busy at a wedding reception this time last year. The aftermath of that wedding and its reception is a two month old princess, one of my nieces.

B and J

BuBu and JayJay

So here’s wishing the Oyebanjis a happy first wedding anniversary! God bless them.

And God bless Nigeria and Nigerians.

While on the subject of anniversaries, happy 16th anniversary as Arsenal manager to Arsène Wenger. God bless him. And God bless Arsenal, regardless of the drought and whatever it was that must have happened on Saturday… but Jesus Koscielny, focus man, focus!

E go better.

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Retrospects & Prospects

“Some that were with us last year are no more and some that weren’t with us last year live among us now” is pretty much how the year went from my viewpoint, paraphrased from what who-I-can’t-remember-his-name-now said at a public function recently.

Oldest brother got married in February to a nice hybrid of nerd and covergirl and set alight a trail of weddings held during the year with one in June to a beauty, another in September to a fair maiden, two to start and end October, attractive and endowed… and one more in November to a stunner, to round off what became a year of nuptuals.

The children can all like to take semblance of their respective mothers and what do you know, February’s union has been blessed with a child just as the second one that held in October has been blessed too… think of the latter as the result of shots on target from pre-season. These men are no Fernando, so Persic with their execution I tell you.

Obviously the prayer is for the other unions to be just as blessed next year hence, the urge to tag 2012 as the year of the toddlers… leaving me to be uncle to more tots than the two I am one to at the moment… tots? Hmmm…

While we’re nurturing a next generation of the family, it is only appropriate to take a moment and remember the ones who now rest in peace; the aged, the gone too soons/sunset at dawn and even some that lived only a few days or months on earth… bless your souls.

“It never hits until you watch the casket go under” and boy did it hit when her’s went down… rest in peace ‘layo, with your baby. Yours was a most painful loss, coming just days after a wedding from the above for which you played a key part of. Surely you’re in an immeasurably better place.

A place I pray also for those that were taken from life in a most gruesome manner to be, especially through the spate of bombings from you know who over God knows what exactly. And there at the Aso Villa is a figurehead satisfied with reaping the dividends (legitimate until proven otherwise 😦 only to then be let go after the Court’s received its ‘cut’) of presidential life while taking the attacks as just “a burden we would have to bear with”…

I’d rather not delve into how disappointed I am at those who voted olowo ori Patience into office and more so at others who failed to vote because the other candidates “would not win anyway so why bother”, a shallow statement to make from same people that won’t let me hear word when yarns about fuel subsidy, budget and government officials let off the hook after posting ‘farcical’ bails come up… keep deceiving yourselves o.

Writing of deceit, MTN stays ever cursed and probably has taken second place from the Nigeria Police Fu**s as the most cursed organisation in the country, PHCN maintaining top spot as Barcelona currently is when it comes to world football, with or without the spite… *beats palm on Arsenal badge anyway*. There must be a figurine at Peter Hill-Wood’s office seeing as seven years would have passed since a captain lifted a trophy to the heavens 😦

As e bad reach it’s just three Arsenal matches I’ve seen this season, the visits to Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City… all lost. My bp’s improved thereafter though, God knows best *sigh*.

And only God knows why I’ve not seen the movie Inception either *ducks in time to dodge thrown rotten tomatoes*. Wonder what’ll happen when I say I’ll make sure I know how to drive a car in 2012… *makes to scamper off cyberspace*

Compliments of the season as I pray your 2012 is devoid of the Mayans’ theory but full of successes like your life was a box office chart topper as I’m expecting the ‘Dark Knight Rises’ to be. God bless you.

Love, Punkenstein… along with the introvertive Mikho, self explanatory Alcohorlick, d_oA the dual ego -__-, OmoAfonja the razz one, the ever misconstrued Illuminatish, the indifferent one ‘Num, Leksyd the cheerful… and PaGe the new born… okbye!

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EPL Players of the Season 2010/11

Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez, the little pea in the big league

Snapped up from Chivas Guadalajara just before a commendable World Cup campaign in South Africa for Mexico, ‘Chicharito’ arrived Old Trafford, scored 13 goals in 21 league appearances and made such an impact at the Theatre of Dreams that Dimitar Berbatov’s long overdue return on goals for the money spent on him could not save him from losing his first team place to the diminutive Mexican.

Peter Osaze Odemwingie
Mostly condemned for moving to a club of Westbromwich-Albion’s stature by fans back in Nigeria and abused racially for leaving Lokomotiv Moscow by fans of the Russian club, Osaze went about his business and his sterling performances for the Baggies through the season; bagging 15 goals along the way, was more than enough to silence his critics and announce his talents to the English game. Being named PFA Player of the Month twice added good icing to his cake.

Robin van Persie
This Dutchman’s form for Arsenal, laden as always with time on the sidelines due to injury, deserved a trophy but just like his goal in the Carling Cup final against Birmingham City, it simply didn’t prove enough. Van Persie however should be proud of his individual performances this season having finished with 18 league goals this season; the first of those scored on New Year’s Day, equalling the record held by Cristiano Ronaldo and former teammate Thierry Henry for most goals scored between January and season’s end. He also shot his way to breaking Didier Drogba’s record of scoring in six consecutive away league matches by scoring in nine consecutive away league matches.

Luka Modric

Luka Modric

Luka Modric (Spurs' engine) would be the player in the background with both arms raised, with Van der Vaart (Spurs' sleek exterior) celebrating in the fore

Where Rafael van Der Vaart was the sleek outer design of the Tottenham Hotspur team, Croatian playmaker Modric was the engine under the hood that truly ran the show with space-opening passes, playing self and team out of trouble and providing the occasional assist. Modric indeed is the unsung star of Tottenham this season and you just feel a far less calamitous goalkeeper and more consistent forwards will see the top echelon of the Premier League be even more competitive.

Darren Bent

After leaving Sunderland in January the dearth in goal became obvious at the Stadium of Light, much to the benefit of Aston Villa where between the New Year and March he became top scorer of the Villans with 10 goals in 16 league appearances; including two in a memorable win at Arsenal at on the penultimate weekend of the season

Wayne Rooney
All he needs is a moment to show why every opposition defender is ever unsettled when Rooney appears on the starting sheet of Manchester United on any given weekend and weekday. Every season his game improves steady and his scoring touch has remained at a good level for a forward, his team play has improved tremendously and it’s when the team performs that managers are happy; individual performances come as added bonus really.

Leighton Baines

Leighton Baines

Leighton Baines played in all of Everton's league matches this season, scoring five while at it

Everton would be better off in the league had the club attained same level of consistency as Baines. His occasional goals and high return on assists only bettered by Cesc Fabregas and Didier Drogba (according to Opta Sports) along with assured performances week after week for all 38 league matches amazingly, deservedly earned him the club’s Player of the Season, Players’ Player of the Season as well as Goal of the Season.

Jack Wilshere
Bolton Wanderers had a request to have the teenage English midfielder back on loan at the Reebok Stadium rejected few days to the start of the season and it proved to an invaluable decision by Arsène Wenger as evident by a consistent return of stellar individual performances for Arsenal all through the 49 matches he played in all competitions; one that deserved a trophy as reward… one that eluded the team.

Gareth Bale
Most unfortunately for the Three Lions of England, Bale is Welsh. A fact that made his explosive form for Tottenham Hotspur one worthy of much praise and enough for him to win the PFA Player of the Year although… winning that accolade was perhaps a bit of a hasty decision from the Queens’ men.

Edwin van Der Sar

Edwin van der Sar

Edwin van der Sar saving Anelka's spot kick in the 2008 Champions League final

This here is a Dutchman that has tasted the highs (Ajax) and endured the lows (Juventus and at Fulham; no offence to the Cottagers) of football hence retiring on a high at Manchester United after a top quality season of performances in all competitions is just what van Der Sar derseves. Van Der Save earned that nickname with string of saves that belied his 41 years and hopefully the Red Devils won’t go through the conundrum of finding a replacement like it did after Peter Scheimichel retired.

Rafael Van Der Vaart

Rafael van Der Vaart

Rafael van Der Vaart applauding Spurs' fans after a match

Following in the individual steps of countrymen Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder… out of Real Madrid, van der Vaart added a bit more flair to the game of Tottenham Hotspur, culminated in his 13 goals in 28 league appearances for the Lilywhites and a commendable campaign for the club; one that saw Spurs reach the Champions League quarterfinals in its maiden appearance in the competition.

Ryan Giggs

Ageless Welshman has now won one less league trophies than Arsenal has in its history. If that does not hit you enough in the face, think of it this way; only three clubs in all of England has won more league titles than he has… and the picture should be settling in now. Even at the ripe age of 37 when it is goalkeepers that attain their peak, Giggs proved very instrumental in Manchester United’s title winning campaign with his experience coming in handy and the evidence of speed in him still that belies his age. This here is a Welshman that has got better with age.

And others worthy of making this list fall below:

Didier Drogba

Samir Nasri

Charlie Adam

Antonio Valencia

Dirk Kuyt

Nemanja Vidic

Brede Hangeland


Charles N’Zogbia

Carlos Tevez

Yaya Toure

Dimitar Berbatov

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Random Yarns: Groomed Pet or Bloomed Flirt? A Day it May End in May & Voices

In the bustle of getting to school early one day; a futile effort most times for a lot of us, a discourse on marriage material arose among four students and to my surprise, they argued for the point that having a wife betroth for you seems the option to fall back on in order to get a ‘clean girl’.

Their paramount reason for this thought was that by the time one was ready to settle down for marriage after having ‘sampled’ across board, won’t one’s wife-to-be then also have been ‘sampled’ by someone else or a good number of young men; old ones as well, all in the search of who to settle down with.

Hence, they felt the process of old in which it was the parents that went about finding a girl they felt would be most suitable for their son should return to being the norm in this modern day…

But whether sampling before commitment or commitment by manner of betrothing is the way to go, time apparently is fast running out on making the decision (for those who haven’t made one) seeing as by popular consensus May 21 will see the world come to an end.

People just like to take the fun out of things really. So now that you’ve let the cat out of the bag, the price of crude oil has crashed and it so happens to be when most of us here in my school will finish with exams…

Seriously though, even Jesus Christ knows not what hour the Father will decide it is time but no no, some people are just in much of a haste for the end of days that from December 21, 2012 it’s become just over a fortnight from when this got posted? Make una no make God do us strong thing toh Gomorrah o!

Still with God (always will be anyway), when He speaks to people or what He actually asks of individuals we cannot say except be recipients of what a given individual says or does as directed by God. I ask however, was the message fully grasped by the given individual when received? In this post-jet age we live in, it only will be natural that individuals God speaks to; and I believe He speaks to us every day, are susceptible to being impatient in hearing the whole message or chilling to understand what the message is trying to impart.

Imagine Abraham, told by God that he would be made ‘father of many nations’ yet never became the king of Israel, Canaan or wherever but rather is revered today as a man of unwavering faith in God among men across religions; has that not fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham?

Then now, take Chris Okotie for another instance… told he would become President of Nigeria. Perhaps he mistook the timing of the message’s manifestation or altogether mistook the message itself. Hence I pray that each of us will through the infinite and abundant grace of God not be misled from our true destiny, amen!


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