Saturday turned out a blue day
in Uyo as a rag tag Super Eagles side lacking character in every
sense of the word fell like a pack of cards to “our former wives”
the Bafana Bafana.

But at the start of the day
who would have thought it would happen.

The day began with Sanipe
Damiete and Benjamin Okenna Sawadinho arranging their bet slips in my
room and they both went for accumulators.

As they reeled through all the
major games they would place bets on, the one that amused me was they
both went for a straight win for Nigeria.

If I had placed bets I would
have also thought Nigeria would win but knowing that the South
Africans have for a long time played better football than us but were
only over powered by our brute force I would have taken some time to
pause, think and listen to my inner mind.

Maybe a double chance for
South Africa would have sufficed for that game or simply over 1.5.
However I wasn’t betting but those who were thought they would win
big from the Nigeria v South Africa game.

Time for break fast and most
of the guys converged in my room for coffee. There were Carl Orakwue,
Peter Abaje, Sanipe Damiete, Emeka Dennar, Benson Clement, Andy Randa
and later Idongesit Ikono who is based in Uyo but had come to visit.

Tunde Bello arrived from Port
Harcourt at about 10 am with Kingsley Ogar, Queen John and Fisayo
Dairo in his contingent and having promised to host all the Port
Harcourt based journalists in Uyo to an early lunch we decided to
converge in his room.
Lunch feast provided by Tunde Bello

It was home prepared eba or
semovita and Afang soup.

Our tastes buds lighted up so
much that by the time we were through at about 12.30 pm I moved a
motion to appoint Tunde Bello a patron of the Rivers State chapter of
the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN for the warm gesture
and the house passed it. He was henceforth declared a patron.

Remember, I talked about the
massive turn out of people in Uyo, especially press men? The worst
thing about that stadium is that the Media Tribune sits only about
thirty people when it should sit three hundred at the least.

We planned to depart for the
stadium at 1pm and Tunde Bello protested that it would be too early
for a game kicking off at 5pm but our minds were made up so we did.

Empty stadium, horrible

All the frenzy of the last
five days died right there in the stadium as the apparent lack of
organisation was evident.

First, the NFF, Akwa Ibom
State government or whoever was contracted to run the game obviously
thought it was a big match, even bigger than the game against Algeria
and any other game we had played before and hired enough security to
take out Pablo Escobar or a feared terrorist leader in a forest.

From ordinary police, to
mobile police and then the DSS as well as bouncers were all there
flounting their guns and muscles and in some cases harassing people
(some were quite polite anyway).

Then the tickets I hear, had
doubled in price from the last game (in this recession o) and to add
salt to injury they did not start selling until the eve of the game
because they “were scared of duplication.”

What manner of country are we?
Then I heard later that the NFF did not have balls to prosecute the
match and had to “beg” the South Africans to use their own balls
that were branded RSA (Republic of South Africa).

Truth be told, our elders
says, “Morning maketh the day” and it was clear from as early as
1.30pm that things were not going right.

Well, we all watched the game
and saw what happened. Since this is not a match report I do not have
to go further on the game.

By the time the game was
fifteen minutes old I told Sanipe and Okey Onwugbonu who sat close to
me that the South Africans were clearly better than us and I had my
doubts we could win.

At the end of the first half I
wrote my headline for my match report and titled it, “Bafana Bafana
break Eagles’ hearts once again”

Mr. and Mrs. Egbamuno
I also typed the first first
four paragraphs during the half time break. Tunde Bello, Sanipe
Damiete and a few other people saw me writing my match report then
and “accused” me of not being loyal but it was what it was.

Ufuoma Egbamuno did not careless anyway when the game ended. He had Mrs. Egbamuno with him.

I did not even have to attend
the post match meeting in the worst Stadium conference room in the

Benson Clement would go in and
if he survives suffocation, then we will get copies of the audio from

It was dinner after that and
we all (a few of us) converged in Tunde Bello’s room for drinks
while we discussed the game.

Obviously, Sanipe was still
bitter he lost his bet. Tunde Bello and I, couldn’t care less. For
Fisayo, he just needed to analyse something.

It’s Enugu for me to see the
game between Rangers and Akwa United and Emeka Nwani has already
called me to say I should take all the good luck in the world to
Enugu as Rangers must win.

I simply do not care. I killed
my flesh to football between 1998 and 2002 when our football
administrators destroyed, killed and buried Nigerian football. I just
watch it, write it and report it but will not lose sleep or break
sweat over it.

I should be back in Port
Harcourt where the air tastes different.
After game relaxation at Tunde Bello’s room

Post Match PRess Conference

Look at Sanipe singing the National anthem

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