Brazil 2014: Personal Preliminary Perspectives (BPPP)

by ahjotnaija

Professor Adesanmi rightfully declared the ongoing World Cup in Brazil as the tournament of the underdogs. I would not have made a different preliminary conclusion. Countries that one would not have reckoned with to come thus far were surprisingly instrumental to the early exit of football powerhouses. Mexico held Brazil to a draw! Even Iran nearly held Argentina to a draw and played out more chances than the Argentine side! Wonder shall never end!

Understandably, the Netherlands Experience the Spanish side were treated to might not be un-instrumental to their eventual woeful loss and extremely shabby display in the match against Chile. However, one cannot assuredly say that the Chilean national team had not in the real sense of the word taken-out/dismantled manual-wise Spain. The better side rightfully deserved to win. The Chileans were dominantly present throughout the match. The Spanish national team was beyond overwhelmed. In short, they were overpowered by a clearly better side.

Even the FIFA induced unprecedented additional time of six minutes could not safe the sinking Spaniards. They eventually sank. Thus, it would be only an attempt at seeking a justifiable excuse to graciously and honorably explain the Spanish woeful losses, first to Netherlands, and then to Chile. I need not remind readers that the era of Tikitaka football as we know it was successfully given a boot-out with the Spanish group stage exit.

Moving on to Portugal, one can attempt an explanation of their defeat in the hands of the German machines to a shameful and un-football-like bodily outburst from Pepe, a man who was expected to be a prickle in the skin of the German machines eventually leveled the ground for a historical defeat suffered by his own national side, namely Portugal.

There need be a name for this man’s unwarranted getting physical with the German striker-Müller; I call it Pepe-Curse or Pepeism. The necessity for a christening is not far-fetched. A similar display by the Cameroonian player, namely Song can by mythically explained as the aftertaste or a wash-off of the Pepe-Curse on the Cameroonians. The god of loose-your-head-when-it-matter-most (Pepe-Curse/Pepeism) transferred its bad air all the way from the Portugal to Cameroon! Song fell for the Pepe-Curse. He was a victim of Pepeism.

Up until the Cameroonian loss, the Indomitable Lions were touted to be one of the teams to watch on the list of African participants. They disappointed beyond words could measure! Did I even need remind that two African brothers finally turned on each other! These two rascals wanted to show the world the Orang-Utan-debris in them! Thank goodness a fellow player was smart enough to separate the two fighting cocks. In short, Cameroon exited the tournament like Spain and England.

The English exit was not much of an unexpected loss. Saving a handful of real-good English players to watch-out for in future tournaments, they did not really come to the World Cup with a quality worthy of going beyond the first round. They lost and I did not as much as felt a team deserving of anything lost! In that group, the deserving national teams came through. Pure and simple.

By the way, the English media is awash with news of roles played by certain players in the team; of particular interest is Rooney. A Player whose role in the English national team was thus far seen as untouchable is no more sacred. The English media is gradually tackling issues rather than beating about the bush in unnecessarily hyping a team that had nothing unusual to offer the football world.

Apropos undeserved and uncritical hype of the English national team, the opposite is the case for the Nigerian counterparts. Nigerians would (and never will!) shy away from bashing a national team that disgrace them. Once the signs of a disastrous outing become visible, Nigerians go all out to tell the players what the English media had only reluctantly begun in the past few weeks- tell them they perform woefully when this is the only truth that can be said. And if they do well, we tell them too! No more, no less.

This was the fate of the Nigerian national teams when they drew against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Less we forget too quickly, the Iranian national team was until then considered an underdog team. In fact, many had questioned their participation in the World Cup. They never would come far anyway. Besides, they are just going to be another undeserved distraction and an under-task for well-prepared teams. The Iranians proved critics wrong. They gave their best. As a matter of defending national honour, the players did Iran proud. They tactically and overall won the game against Argentina. If not for the Almighty Messi! One could only wish for a different outcome, but alas, the Almighty Messi played!

Returning to the perceived poor performance of the Nigerian national team in the match against Iran and the national outrage that came with it, retrospectively speaking, the Nigerian team had not done that badly. The perceived underdog Iran indeed deserved the draw. They were a team much stronger than we all had thought. The match against Argentina was an eye-opener.

Talking about undeserved distraction in the World Cup, a good example is the Honduras national team in the match against their French counterparts. The French won deservingly, but with the un-football-like tackle and play-style of the Hondurans, one could only wish they never qualified for the tournament in the first place.

Clearly, the Hondurans were lanky, well-built and strong, but football is not about these physical features alone. They are necessary, no doubt, but not all. Football is science- it is common-sense and result-oriented tactics too! The Hondurans clearly missed their way. They are best useful in traditional brutal American Football. That is exactly where their place is!

The yesterday win of the Nigerian side was a well-deserved win. The Nigerian side that showed up for yesterday’s match against Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) was a renewed and revitalized side! The true African spirit was resurrected in those Nigerians we saw yesterday on the pitch. They did not disappoint the country.

As it stands now, the Ghanaian and Nigerian national teams are the only hope-bearers for the African continent. Calls from various quarters to reduce the African slot can finally be nibbed in the bud. After all, two out of five is not a poor end result. These two teams justified that the African continent is thus far not poorly represented on the world stage. Really, I personally think the call to cut-down on the African slot is uncalled for and self-derogatory. Coming from Africans made it even a real bitter pill to swallow. It borders on self-crucifixion on the alter of self-hate!

After all, the woeful performance of Spain and the undoubtedly below-par performance of the English national side did not result in a clamour for a cut-down in allocated slot for the Europeans. BH and Croatia lost too. They will go home soon. Greece will likely go home too! These are all European representatives and they obviously represent the European slot very badly, no mincing words!

Thus far, only Germany and Netherlands have done the continent proud. Portugal was terribly beaten and Spain was irredeemably out-ted! I want to assume these callers were merely carried away or understand little of the consequences of self-hate in the politics of world football. Their personal disappointment did not justify their irrational demand.

A quick look at the the French national team will give a glimpse into what the African teams can do if well and better motivated. I still do not understand what the French team trained on and how they trained. This is a team made up largely of French citizens with African-roots- Benzema, Pagbo, Sissoko, Evra among other Africans the team! Referencing Professor Adesanmi, the French should have informed (…) they were coming to play Switzerland with the African Union! This is just the truth. Yet, these French players put up world-class performance and played world-class football. The African national teams have many things to learn from the French team. If they can discover the recipe of French success and motivation, I can bet that the next winner in 2018 is an African national team.

The Ghanaian players displayed yesterday a comparable spirit of a contender who can be taken seriously if they qualify. They forced the German machines to a 2:2 draw! Undoubtedly, the motivation of the Ghanaian players was really at its peak yesterday, even stronger and more prominent than that displayed by the Nigerian players. They equally translated this mountainous inspiration into action. If only the Portuguese would complete their mess, so that USA would qualify top the group, then the second from the group will be left for Germany or Ghana.

Personally, I am torn between two difficult choices. I want Germany to qualify out of the group stages, Ghana is however part of me too. I cannot afford to loose any of both. For now, I can only wait and wish for the best. A possible escape for both Germany and Ghana is when Portugal won the next match and still go ahead to loose woefully against Ghana so that Ghana and Germany can come through in the group. In any case, a Portuguese disastrous follow-up is predictable and desirable. After all, we all could not agree more that this World Cup has thus far favored countries that had hitherto being ruled out even before the competition started- the so-called underdogs. So if Portugal went the way of Spain and England, it would shock only a few.

The day is still young, so that a prediction of a possible winner would be assuming too much than reasonably predictable. I can already tip country like Netherlands. Their strong performance so far with Argen Robben, a machine-like striker, swift as wind, a great footballer, et al is a good pointer to follow. The case of Netherlands is however not a surprise. They were runners-up in South Africa.

The Chilean performance so far is a surprise. The undeniably tactically superior Iranians against Argentina is also a surprise, and a pleasant one at that. The strong come-back of the Nigerians against BH is. Even France is not necessarily a favourite for the trophy going by their shameful exit four year ago in South Africa. Ghana’s display is highly commendable. The Mexicans are on top of their game. The Brazilians are yet to arrive. That much must be said. Lest I forget, Cote d’Ivoire is still very much in the game! Three African hope-bearers! What a good feeling!

Well, so much being said, it can be summed thus: The tournament so far has been an interesting potpourri of (un-)pleasant surprises. One is best advised to stay tuned because there is still more to come. I keep hope alive for the Ghanaian and Nigerian national teams. They are the hope of the African continent at the moment. I wish Ghana all the best and strongly wish that Nigeria defeat Argentina. That will be another achievement worth celebrating on this blog.