BY SEGUN ODEGBAMI, SAINT PETERSBURG.
There are few hours to the start of the ‘Third World War’. I am alone in my room in Park Inn Hotel, St. Petersburg, the city where the ‘war’ with Argentina will take place this evening.
I am praying. I can’t see the Super Eagles again because I think they deserve to be on their own, focussed on the work they have to do tonight.
For me, this may be the most challenging match in our entire history because Nigerian’s expect (and justifiably too) that their beloved Super Eagles, their most visible and potent global ambassadors, will do the seemingly ‘impossible’.
They are expected to defy all odds, break a jinx of four previous consecutive defeats at the World Cup, neutralise the greatest player in the history of football for 90 minutes, silence the 30,000 die-hard supporters following the Argentine team, plus an additional, overwhelmingly anti-black audience that dominate a Cup that is surely not designed so that a Black African team will win, and defeat a pre-championship favourite, Argentina, tonight.
That is the mountain our team of young, hardworking and patriotic Super Eagles is expected to climb and conquer successfully today. The odds are stacked against the Eagles.
It is mostly Nigerians that believe that their team will win tonight. That’s the big advantage Nigerian players have – unlike the Argentines there is no pressure-cooker tension in their camp.
Unlike the argentines there will be no global humiliation even in defeat. When I left the team yesterday my spirit was lifted by their attitude and composure, a steeliness in their eyes reflecting determination and confidence, and an uncommon calmness of a single mindedness to put up the fight of their lives, and to do-or-die in the process.
I challenged Mikel Obi, captain of the Nigerian ‘army’ tonight, to use this match to make a statement to all Nigerians, reminding us all about who we are in the world, where we are coming from and our responsibility to all black persons on earth.
That even When the odds are stacked against us, when we come together in a team, driven by the natural Nigerian spirit in our DNA, when we direct our energies positively, we can conquer the world. Unfortunately for the Argentines they are our cannon fodder tonight. I read somewhere that they have never had a Black player in their national team, ever!
Well, that speaks louder than words why that is so. Indeed, that’s why to me today’s match is Nigeria’s World Cup final. We must beat Argentina. After that I can go home.
It will not matter too much again what happens there after….these Eagles would have stamped their names and place forever in the annals of the World Cup.
These ‘ordinary’ Nigerians with an extra-ordinary motivation to demonstrate Nigeria’s capacity to be great in the world, even beyond football, would become, at a time such as this in our political history, the model of genuine heroes the country needs to lead Nigeria out of the present Golgotha.
The road to becoming the greatest Black Country in the world can start tonight with the Super Eagles. Mark my words. Let us pray for them.