Posted: Jun 07, 2012
I SEEK REFUGE from satan the cursed.
I begin in the name of God, the Beneficient, the Merciful.
Our Lord, we thank you for sparing our lives to see this day. We thank you for creating us and providing for us the gifts of nature on which we thrive and survive. The air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the earth that we walk and your other uncountable gifts of nature. Do accept our thanks because you’re the God of provision.
Our Lord, we beseech thee to forgive our sins and have mercy on our country Nigeria. In recent times, we have been going through a series of challenges as a country. But last weekend was particularly sorrowful because of the multiple disasters that we experienced which resulted in huge loss of lives and threw many families into grief.
On Saturday, June 2, 2012, there was carnage yet again on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway when a fuel tanker spilled its content on the road and caused a ranging fire that consumed 24 vehicles. According to one account by The Punch newspaper, the inferno occurred “barely 48 hours after (yet) another fire burnt nine fuel tankers and seven trailers at the same location!”
Then on Sunday, June 3, 2012, we recorded a double tragedy when Boko Haram struck again in Bauchi, killing about 21 people; while a Dana Airline plane crashed in Lagos killing all 153 people on board and many others on the ground. Oh God, this is too much for just one weekend. So many lives lost in one fell swoop. So much property destroyed.
God, please have mercy on us in Nigeria. Do not let us have a repeat of last weekend ever again in our dear country. We thank you for sparing those of us who are lucky to be alive to write and read about these unfortunate incidents. We beg thee to have mercy on the soul of the departed and give their families the fortitude to bear the pain, amen.
Our Lord, please touch the hearts of Boko Haram and let last Sunday’s Bauchi bombing be their last.
Our Lord, please touch the hearts of the warring natives in Akwa Ibom and Plateau so that the killings there would stop and they would go back to living peacefully together as neighbours.
Our Lord, please touch the hearts of the kidnappers, armed robbers, drug carriers and other anti-social elements in our society and let them turn a new leaf.
Our Lord, please touch the hearts of our political leaders so that they would always put the welfare of the country and its people ahead of their personal desires and comfort.
Our Lord, help us sustain those leaders who mean well for our country and disgrace those who care only about themselves and their families.
Our Lord, give us the strength to expose and eliminate all agents of corruption in our country because corruption is the “mother” of all our challenges including insecurity, poverty, unemployment, infrastructural decay, falling standards, failing values, de-industrialization, etcetra, etcetra. It was corruption that gave birth to Halliburton scandal, capital market collapse, fuel subsidy fraud and the great pension scam amongst others.
Our Lord, give us the collective determination to kill corruption and all will be well with Nigeria.
Glory be to you our Lord, who is above all creations. All thanks be to you, the Lord of the words. Amen.
Super Eagles Silver Lining
lARGUABLY the silver lining in a dark and horrendous weekend for Nigeria was the Super Eagles victory in their opening 2014 World Cup qualifying match against the Brave Warriors of Namibia last Sunday in Calabar.
Most of us expected a more comfortable victory with a big scoreline but the Eagles could only manage one goal scored by Ikechukwu Uche in the 80th minute. Considering the fact that the Namibians played a very defensive game while Nigeria dominated and created loads of scoring opportunities, the narrow win can be put down to ill luck. On a luckier day, the Eagles could easily have won by three or four goals, at least.
I have read comments by other pundits and we all seem to agree that Stephen Keshi’s boys achieved the most important goal which was to secure the three points at stake. With our other group rivals Kenya and Malawi playing out a golless draw in Nairobi on Saturday, Nigeria sits atop of the group from Day One and that is where we must stay till the end of this qualifying round where only the top team will advance to the next stage.
Our next game is against Malawi in Blantyre this weekend and I expect the Eagles to win that one as well. Forget about the boast by their coach Kinnah Phiri. I have a strong feeling that the Eagles will actually record an easier victory because the home team will not be as defensive as the Namibians were in Calabar.
Malawi have not lost at home for some time now. They will be more adventurous and probably open the play believing that home advantage will again count in their favour. That will present more scoring opportunities for the Eagles who must then be more clinical than they were in Calabar. They must take their chances early and not allow the game to drag on for long without scoring. Meanwhile, they also must not concede a goal because that could really complicate matters for them.
Any further suggestions for Keshi at this point? None from me. On the evidence of his team selection and the performance against Namibia, I feel comfortable that the coach has a clear idea of where he wants to go with the Eagles and how to get there. As I hinted earlier in this column, Keshi appears to be building his defence around home-based players who are strong and rugged for the African terrain, while leaving attacking duties to the more experienced and intelligent foreign-based players. Against Namibia, he used a mixture in midfield and I suspect that is where most of his changes will be happening until he finds an effective combination.
Last Sunday, it was nice to see the Eagles passing the ball around confidently in midfield although the slightly bumpy Calabar pitch seemed to hinder their play. If our boys can cope with the other challenges that the synthetic pitch in Blantyre will throw up, they will at least enjoy a smoother surface to string their passes together and cause more havoc against Malawi.
I’m tipping the Eagles to come away with another victory on this road trip and I hope they will do just that. That would send the message to our rivals that we mean business in the race to Brazil 2014.
Good luck again, guys.
THE ink was barely dry on my article last week when Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President Alhaji Aminu Maigari called to assure me that he had no plans whatsoever to interfere with Stephen Keshi’s team selections.
Based on some newspaper reports (not Complete Sports) that Maigari and NFF technical committee chairman, Chris Green, were planning to compel Keshi to recall some dropped players to the Eagles, I had advised the NFF to keep their earlier promise not to interfere with Keshi. My article coincided with the comments by other observers also denouncing the plan. But Maigari told me on the telephone that he had no such plans. He also insisted that he wanted me to make the point clear to my readers that he would be supporting Keshi’s decisions all the way.
ALHAJI Maigari and Chris Green should allow Stephen Keshi to clear the evil forest of over-reliance on foreign-based players in the Super Eagles by giving our NPL players the confidence. No interference, please. – Bien Felix, Lagos.
*Well, I’m sure you’ve just read Maigari’s assurance.
CONGRATULATIONS to the Super Eagles for the victory over Namibia. I saw good wing play, good possessional football, timely substitutions and I was particularly impressed by Ejike Uzoenyi. All we need now is to be patient for Stephen Keshi to deliver the World Cup ticket. – Anonymous.
THANK God for the victory over Namibia. Now I think its time for Stephen Keshi to make up his mind on a set of players and stick to them. The earlier he did that, the better so that the boys can start developing an understanding before we start facing strong teams like Cote d’Ivoire.
But it’s good that we have started well by topping our group. – JD Korede, Offa, Kwara State.
THE NFF is right to express fears about Keshi’s methods. Although he’s building a team for the future, he must be reminded that we have to survive the present. – Patrick, Lagos.
OGA MUMINI. You have been using the word recollect instead of recall. Please take note. Meanwhile, you didn’t mention CMS Grammar School (Bariga Bombers) in your story about the schools that dominated the old Lagos State Principals’ Cup? How come? – 0807846xxxx
*Thanks for your correction. Up CMS!
SOMEONE should tell the Eagles to talk less in the newspapers and act more on the pitch. – 0703526xxxx
HI, MUMINI. Just as you requested, Keshi has given us three points against Namibia to start the qualifying matches we have in June 2012 on a winning note. The remaining six points (against Malawi and Rwanda) are on the way. Keshi is following the path of Clemens Westerhof and I believe he will succeed. – 0818482xxxx
PLEASE tell Keshi to change his pattern of play for the Eagles. Nigeria is not used to fast-paced football so we can’t play 4-2-4 formation. Instead, let him use either 4-5-1, 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation. Thank you. – Patrick Iriferi, Ugheli, Delta State.
* Up coach!
NFF should wake-up! How do they expect us to know and appreciate the home-based players that are doing a fantastic job for the Super Eagles when their names are not written on their jerseys for the match against Namibia? We already know Utaka, Uche, Enyeama but what about others? – Gbadebo Adegbola, Lagos.
ALL OF THOSE currently supporting Keshi, I hope he won’t let you down soon. Keshi was a failure in Togo and Mali and I wonder why he was chosen by Nigeria. I don’t think he can deliver anything but I want him to surprise me. – John, from Warri.
BIG BROS, Up Shooting! After three years, my darling club Shooting Stars finally won an away game in the Nigeria Premier League by beating Ocean Boys 2-1. last weekend. I’m still celebrating. Up Shooting!
Meanwhile, how come there’s no player from Western Nigeria in Keshi’s Super Eagles. Is he a tribalist? – Dayo Fawole, Sango Ota, Ogun State.
*Raheem Wole Lawal from Atletico Balaeres is in camp. He couldn’t feature against Namibia reportedly because of a delay in his documentation.
HI, MR. ALAO. Please when is the 2012 National Sports Festival scheduled to take place in Lagos?
Thank you. – Naomi, Abuja.
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