Rupert Murdoch’s Sky media company wanted to pour sand into my garium-on-water (Gari) on Friday. I was off from work and determined to watch Nigeria play against Iceland. I had an early lunch of mansize ground rice (Gira), okro and large pieces of unroasted chicken. To flush the load down, I prepared two large glasses of pomegranate juice mixed with bitter lemon and diced with Greek, plain white yoghurt. Everything was going swimmingly until I heard a message ringtone announcing that Sky, my cable provider, is having a technical problem and that the problem is being fixed. What!!! The devil is a liar, I sighed.
Elaine Turley, my white, kind neighbour from Hampshire was home from work. As I banged on her door, she opened up with a grin and announced same sad news of Sky’s decapitation from the airwaves. However, she said that I should come in and watch it on normal television. Quickly, she fixed me with a glass of wine and vacated the best viewing corner on her soft, grey settee. She asked if I wanted curry. I declined and reminded her that I have just had gira. I had to explain the meaning of gira anyway. She laughed and faced her paperwork while I glued my face on the telly like a monk receiving instruction from the Dalai.
Then the match started. The duel between Nigeria and Iceland. This is a defining, glory-seeking match for the Nija team. They must win and win convincingly. I had made a vow to renounce my Nija citizenship if they lost. What is the point of dual citizenship if one of the citizenships could not make me proud in the World Cup? You reckon? England my adopted nation had beaten Tunisia 2-1. That victory created a sense of belonging for my British citizenship. Britain is a footballing universe. They worship soccer here. It goes hand in hand with brawn, hooliganism, betting, rowdiness and nationalistic passion.
Back to the Nija and Iceland football battle. It had to be seen as a battle, because, prior to the match, the entire team had vowed to die on the field rather than lose. I thought this was just a filibustering statement to rally the entire commonwealth of 178 million Nigerians behind them. Nigerians too were ready to castrate the entire Mikel Obi and his gangsters of 11 if they ever suffered defeat from the Icelanders. The sun must melt the ice.
As if the team knew what was coming, they seized the moment and defied settled preconceptions before the World Cup of Eagle’s lack of preparation, accusation of lack of stamina for gruesome 90 minutes drill and how we are not man enough to beat the speed of non-African football players. Then the tournament began. Iceland whipped our backside in the first half. Nigerian players were rolling around the field like yoyo. I did not pray for miracle. I only looked on, hoping that something must happen. Something more than miracle.
At a stage I was sipping my wine like a professional taster. I was tensed with anxiety. What is wrong with these boys? My mind kept on saying. I was like a caged tiger. I was rolling on the soft settee like a roll on deodorant. I punched my fist in the air. I guffawed. I kicked Elaine cushion skyward. She gave me a dirty look. I did not care. I must prove to the world my recent convert to football. I was known to be an ardent boxing fan. I could name all the boxing greats. The boxing genre is on my fingertips. My memory has stored pages of pages of boxing matches. But not football. But because Nija was involved……
I had to be involved – spirit, soul and adrenaline!! Then gbam, from nowhere, I saw this scrawny guy called Ahmed Musa running like Usain Bolt. Is he in Russia to run or play football, I questioned my mind. Then, inch by inch, he dribbled the invincible Icelandic players. Inch again by another inch, then, like a tornado I saw a round leather ball slammed into the net. It is a goooooaaaalllll!!! It is a goooaaalllllll!!!!! I screamed! I jumped up! I spilled my wine!! I sank again on the seat to confirm if the goal was real. Yes, very real…..
First goal in 49th minute of play. The sun has melted the first ice! Nice one chaps! Then the duel continued. Now, the initial anxiety over my dual citizenship was temporarily suspended. I may still have the two passports if these guys win this match, my heart thought aloud. Then, emboldened and encouraged by the first goal, the entire 11 eagles on the field spread out their long wings, beaks and talons for turf war of kill, or be killed. As the eagles spread out and lock on to the prey, the head of the pack was again single out. It was Musa! When the ball was passed to him, he dribbled the defender, dislocated the orientation of the Icelandic goalkeeper and lobbed another grenade with a thunderous shot. It is a goooaaalllll!!!! It is a goooaaallllll!!! Second goal in 75th minute of play. The sun has melted the second ice!
Two goals to nothing! Up Nigeria! Up Eagles! Then the bedlam!!! I danced toi-toi, the South African dance. I ran around Elaine’s delicately decorated living room. What is the matter with you, she cautioned me like a stentorian seminary teacher. I ignored her. This is my moment. The magic Musa moving moment!!!
This is my defining hour of glory and celebration. I felt very smug and emotional. However, a surge of electric current went through me at the 83rd minute when Iceland was given a penalty. Gylfi Sigurdsson the shooter could not hit the G-string. With baited breath, I used telepathy to move the clock forward to the end of the game. I was feeling orgiastic. When the final whistle wheezed out, the entire Nija universe went on rampage. My daughter sent a message through WhatsApp…….Dad…..dad……Nigeria is winning the World Cup, she teased. Then, Nigerians shut down WhatsApp server! We are now in control of the social media. We love celebration….no matter how innocuous like winning a World Cup match against Iceland! The drums were rolled out. It was show time in Nija unique style. It was a day that will be remembered forever – the magic Musa moving moment!
The Gernot Rohr boys have made me proud to be Nigerian. Nija for life now. Striker Ahmed Musa has saved my dual nationality status for good. But, something is round the corner that may wipe away this joy. On Tuesday, which happened to be my birthday, the eagles will go into football warfare with Argentina, the two-time World Cup champions. Help, would merciless Messi deny me my newfound football orgasm? Dunno. That is hours away. It can wait, while I enjoy my double shot of Musa on ice. Forget Prosecco, forget Guinness; my beloved baba dudu, forget the threat of Messi, let us toast to double shot of Musa on ice. Anyone for double shot of Musa on ice?
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