Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Courteous footfare

The African Nations’ cup may be a useless piece of junk but the tournament is fun to watch nonetheless; even rat races can be fun to watch. I abashedly confess that I didn’t watch the first two rounds of the tournament: it’s always best to wait till those teams which are there only to make up the numbers are eliminated. And when the quarter final games go underway, I was surprised by the fervor I felt! The quarter finals were fantastic, to put it mildly. The draw served mouth watering clashes: Egypt Vs DRC, Ivory Coast Vs Cameroon, Nigeria Vs Tunisia, and Senegal Vs Guinea. Of the teams in the draw, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Tunisia/Nigeria were my favorites: Egypt has been the most compelling team to watch; Ivory Coast has Didier “sex on legs” Drogba for captain. In the match between Nigeria and Tunisia, I started out supporting Tunisia – 12 years as a fan of Nigerian Super eagles have proved that the team is consistently disappointing (Hello Argentina) – but as the game progressed, I switched sides: the Nigerians played better than they have in years. I suspect they were trying to woo me back, but am naïve no more; no longer am I impressed by singular displays – Joy don’t want any more 90 minute men, they can keep the flare, I want trophies (Hello Holland!). But for Tunisia’s dreadful performance, I would have resisted the Nigerian’s charms. As it happened nostalgia coupled with the glimmer of the old hunger to win and the Tunisia’s hapless form was overpowering.
On day one of the quarters, Egypt beat the DRC, 4-1, as had been expected, and Senegal won 4-3 against Guinea in a match which went according to predictions but was more of a contest than could have been anticipated.
Day two’s games were exquisitely suspenseful. At the end of a plodding regular time and extra time, the Nigeria Vs Tunisia was goal-less. The super eagles were the better team through out but went two down during the penalty shoot out; which meant that their goal keeper had to save thrice and all the penalty takers had to score. There were anxious moments during which my gorgeous cousin, Doreen, did a variant of a chicken dance in an unwitting appeal to the gods of fortune, and I bit my nails to the quick; moments of boisterous rapture during which my niece was frightened out of her wits – Ngabire was not harmed, she soon realized that the screams were borne of ecstasy, she’s still getting used to the idea. In the end the Eagles triumphed and the Tunisians were sent packing.

The game between Ivory Coast and Cameroon was fascinating but not just for sporting reasons. It started off most peculiarly, with an exchange of flowers; as would befit an international friendly. The game continued in that vein, courteously, with each team, happy to contain the other, reluctant to spoil the happy mood; until the .. minute when the Ivorians scored. The Cameroonians hit back .. minutes later. After that everybody stuck to the script, and there were no more nasty surprises. For the second match in a row, a match had to be settled via penalties. IC won 12-11 in the shoot out, after Etoo capitulated under the weight of the occasion - All 11 players from both teams, including the goalkeepers, scored in the shootout, and they had to start again - and shot over the bar; Drogba, justified my love, kept cool and slotted in the ball to take his team to the semi Finals; which I cannot write about on account of not having watched the games due to a power outage, a common feature of a country which could be entirely self sufficient and supply half of Kenya’s demand as well. Welcome to Jamrock(congrats to Damian Marley on the grammy wins!) The long and short of it is that Egypt will play Ivory Coast in the Final.


At February 10, 2006 1:04 PM , Anonymous grand Muffti said...

That sounds great. Obviously, football (/soccer) is no great sport like HOCKEY, but nonetheless :)

At February 13, 2006 7:49 AM , Blogger jinan said...

"Soccer", how American!
Does it really? It's tough conveying enthusiasm. Yeah, i bet hockey's great, for inducing sleep :-)
By the way Egypt are Xhosi wa Afrika; they beat the Ivorians. I was sad for a night, then Chelsea lost to M'borough and i was sad some more. Fortunately Real Madrid won, hurray for hedging!
Okay, you need not say it, i really should get a life :-)

At February 13, 2006 12:40 PM , Anonymous grand Muffti said...

Hockey induces sleep!?! Have you ever actually been to a hockey game?

Sorry y9ou were so sad, but yeah for Real Madrid. Muffti is a LIverpool fan

At February 14, 2006 4:37 AM , Blogger jinan said...

No, but i've tried watching it on TV; and found it pretty soporific. Not really, but it didn't capture me.
Joy knows Muffti is a Liverpool fan, an unfortunate circumstance that she suffers only because it's proof that he's human!


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