Dapo Sotuminu, Live in Russia
The Corporate Affairs Adviser of the Nigeria Breweries, one of Nigeria’s major sponsors to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Kufre Ekanem, has stated that the Nigerian team will not be intimidated in Tuesday’s last group D cracker against Argentina in Saint Petersburg.
He said: “Against the Argies, we are here and ready. The permutations don’t matter to us. The eleven on pitch will do their job. If they like let them outnumber us again like the last two games, we won’t care. We’ll sing and shout and wave the flag. Nigeria is the best country in the world. That is my story and I am sticking with it. Akanam Nkwe.”
While reliving the Eagles game on Friday June 22 against Iceland, which opened up Nigeria’s true colours in the Russia 2018 World Cup, Ekanem said: “On a surprisingly warm Friday night in post-match Volgograd, we found ourselves singing again. Like in Kaliningrad the coach number was S02. This time it was inside the tram not the bus. Tram S02.
“I think you already know why we were singing on Friday night but more of that after a brief dribble. In other words, let’s review the VAR before I return to the main action. Stay with me and I promise not to Sing’ the penarity into throw in. #Hain!
“A wise homosapiens once said “never say never.” Between Kaliningrad and Friday, a number of nevers have been severed. Language. Language. Language. When I got tired of improvised sign language, I reluctantly took a friend’s persistent advice and downloaded Uber and Google Translate. If that sounds like a proactive action on my part, ‘forgerrit’. The friend (who will remain nameless) just refused to help with translating on his phone (as usual) leaving me in a ‘one chance’ situation. I had to sharpen up fast. Don’t ask me the situation, I won’t answer you. Another friend in the group stubbornly stuck to his way and ended up paying for hair relaxer in the supermarket when his desire was a body cream. His name is withheld too but it took me, new convert, to evangelize him and save him from annointing his head with hair conditioner. For his scalp would have ‘runneth over’. In other words, if you don’t get the language here, you enter ‘one chance.”
He added: “There are so many one chance tales to tell from off the pitch but every experience was a blur till Friday in Volgograd when the baba nla one chance occurred. I gave a friend my match ticket to hold and missed our bus and rendezvous point due to road diversions and communication. So much for Uber and Google Translate! My entire team of friends was in the stadium and the security protocol was: once in, no out. Had I entered the one chance of all one chances?
“I made the long trek towards the designated gate. Gate 2. I paced there while my friends sought approval for someone to bring out my ticket. I heard the national anthems and the match started before my ticket came. My friends are good people. On Fridays, at least.
“Ticket in hand, I hot footed it into the stadium by the 7th minute. Some ‘oyinbo’ guy was ensconced in my seat clapping for Iceland. When I indicated that it was my seat, the guy shrugged and motioned for me to take another seat close by. Ehn? My perfect pitch side seat! On my ticket that I stood under the sun to wait for since? I glared at him from narrowed eyes. The same way a lion focuses ahead of…. Anyway, before the roar could leave my throat, the young man borrowed himself sense. As he passed me, he muttered “bon chance, Nee-je-ria”. Oh, I thought, he speaks French. “Merci beaucoup”, I answered without a smile, “toi aussi”. Language.
“By now the whole world knows the tale of the game at Volgograd. We sang hoarse through it all but here is the summary of the game for your files:
Our Eagles scored, not once but twice // they played at pace with lotsa spice//we took the game to those in b(ice)//at whistle’s shrill they’d lost their f(ice).
They tried their thunder clap athr(ice)//a global boon, their splay of d(ice)//When Musa stopped that cross so nice //For all their huuuu, that goal was pr(ice)
They tugged, they knocked, our base was (ice)//The points they fought to split and sl(ice)//Then Mansa knit the points in spl(ice)//And Sig then spooned his kick like r(ice).
“Three points in the bag! That is why we were singing in Tram S02. We took no prisoners. We slammed those chants like our throats were embedded with amplifiers. We crowed, croaked, coughed and choked. But still sought for an extra gear to go. This time, we were more. Three singing bands of Nigerians had blended into one as if we had been rehearsing together for months. It was a command performance but for the creaks in the voices. It was a disc jockey’s display of repertoire in the warm Russian night. Minus the gizmo. From hit-to-hit. Back to back. All the shots were inside the net. No hitting of the bar this time. The Icelanders could not even contend. We were all proven singers. Bathroom shower crooners. Boisterous ride that. Before the tram stopped, we allowed the Russians on the tram to chant one song though. Courtesy.
The selfies and fan photos? Throughout the day but a dozen times more once we hit the FanFest area. We were celebs. On the world stage too. It was absolutely bedlam and we lapped it up. Winner oo oo oooo. Winner, Winner oo oo ooo.Winner, Naija we don win o, winner. Pata pata we go win again o, Winner.
Fans from other countries were asking for every bit of Naija memorabilia they could swap for. Caps, jerseys, jackets, name it. We were all for it and did my fair share. One item was out of discussion: my good luck muffler.”