I knew Nigeria would win
At game time I knew Nigeria would win the Cup for three specific reasons.
One - because the Power Holding Company that had engulfed my part of Lagos in blackouts for two straight days, restored electricity just as the anthems ended.
Two - because the all-knowing Oliseh, Africa’s newest media star, told us so.
Three - just as I found out that my most valuable player of the tournament, Victor Moses, would be starting, DStv was announcing that James Nwosu from Nigeria had won the Stanbic Afcon draw of the day.
Prize? A Victorinox Swiss Army watch!
The writing was on the wall for all to see and if you are guessing that I believe in omens and am a little superstitious – you are correct.
Talking about Moses, the entire world now knows his absolutely amazing story. Rescued from the ruins of his smoldering home as a baby, after his parents had been killed in the incomprehensible religious violence that strikes Nigeria like clockwork, he turned to football for balance.
His rise to stardom, just like his first name, is a testimony to man’s dogged tenacity and will to persevere against all odds.
Better still, it is a story of faith and forgiveness. Something tells me that when Moses chose to play for Nigeria ahead of his adopted home, England, despite the fact that the murderers of his parents also called it their home and would also bask in his glory, he earned some serious bonus points with the big guy upstairs.
Add to the fray Keshi’s own incredible story.
I don’t mean his equalling the spectacular feat of El Gohary and becoming the only other person to win Afcon as both player and coach. Nor do I mean him surviving his own termination by the NFF, that would have been the case after Nigeria fell to Ivory Coast.
The one I mean is about him being indigenous, doing it his way and with ‘his type’ of player. You know, ones with names like Mba and Oboabona and who are hidden deep within the belly of the NPL.
Keshi’s fairytale ending also breaks the tie between successes by local and foreign coaches at the Afcon final, tilting it in favour of Africa. Hopefully we shall now see a comeback to when more trust is placed in the hands of our own, as is the case in Ghana, whose four titles have been delivered by sons of the soil.
It should not however come at the expense of real motivators of men like Claude le Roy, Clemens Westerhof and now Put who have proven that hue has nothing to do with, dare I say, an “Africa-ness”?
Afcon 2013 has now come and gone and while we in Nigeria will forever remember it ever so fondly, we understand if others won’t. Regardless, we all can seek solace in the fact that we were thoroughly entertained and that Afcon 2013 was a success.
As I already pointed out, it gave us Africa’s newest media star in Sunday Oliseh. It introduced us to a new powerhouse in Africa in the Stallions, as well as documenting the zeal with which Keita led his countrymen, despite the war at home.
It infected us with the radiance of Igesund, despite a bad appendix and all, that did not change in both victory against Morocco, and after being expelled by Mali.
It also detailed the class of the Zambian fans who, in my opinion, were the best and not the Ethiopians. For starters they didn’t throw things. Rather, amid a torrent of tears, there was no name calling or finger pointing. Instead we were reminded that, though they were not ‘sexy’, no one had actually beaten them and that they were still undefeated. I am sending this to the Nigerian fan club email address.
It also revealed that Blue Sharks coach Lucio Antunes has a pretty good voice. It exposed that all Ghanaians can’t take penalties and not just Gyan. It also thankfully prevented us from seeing Sammy Kuffor go bald as he had promised should Ghana have won.
Sadly, it also brought to light the absurd, such as shoddy officiating and when Caf's “ubermensch” Hayatou called the pitch at Mbombela good and said that it was just the grass that looked bad. Then there was the case of Renard actually covering up the luckiest white shirt in African football with a blazer against Nigeria. So was the reported Le Roy walk out that never took place.
At the end of the day, these were all individual observations and occurrences and, just like pieces of a quilt when all put together, gave us a spectacular tournament and I now can’t wait for Libya but not before saying - “Up Supa” and well done.