I went around interacting with football crazy youths on the street and I learnt quite a lot. In Port Harcourt Nigeria’s oil city at the once volatile Niger Delta peace has returned for the purpose of the tournament. Businesses are installing in house gadgets to enable their workforce to remain on their seats but they are likely to fail because people prefer to watch in groups of like minds. Since the streets are to be deserted, the notorious go slow in Port Harcourt will not be a worry for the period. Brisk business is visible in Generator trade while television and cable decoders have special offers to attract customers. So much is given for the approaching moments of magic.
In the run up to the opening game on Friday, majority of the youths who are not well to do gather around Newspaper vendors analyzing football news made possible by free readers club as they are fondly known. Today the topic is on Nigeria’s chances in the South Africa hosted World cup. Everyone seems to say the same thing: The Super Eagles, [the Nigerian National Team] are going to surprise the world. Many could bet their last Naira on it. All that talk about injuries depleting the team was not heeded by a splinter group which emerged as if from no where.
In Nigeria it is not the team that plays but all the populace. For this group of excited enthusiasts, the only problem would be if ‘NEPA did not give us light’. NEPA refers to the National Electric Power Authority although recently renamed “Power Holdings” remains a central focus during such tournaments owing to a history of blackouts. How is this a factor, I enquired further? The ring leader who did not give his name intimated us that already the viewing centers had “paid for our light”. According to him, despite recent efforts of the President, the viewing centers had negotiated for blackout to attract viewers. He was only bothered that such a situation would limit the available home support for the Super Eagles on the field and may even prevent those who could have given them remote control help from doing so.
In Africa there is still the supernatural angle to football. Many believe that the African soil will not allow African teams to be defeated in the tournament. In the run up to the tournament, many pilgrims have poured into Nigeria to confer with prophet T B Joshua of the Synagogue Church of all Nations, the owners of the popular Emmanuel TV concerning their fortunes in the tournament. In the last count delegates from Football association of most participating African Nations had been there. Nothing was to be left to chance. Africa is determined to carry the cup although no one has yet volunteered a prediction. Most people talk about a semi finals appearance as it will give us the cup. One thing has been settled. Nigeria is to beat Argentina on Saturday to put the world on notice.
Mr Nworisara is a blogger from Nigeria