My mum used to watch all Nigerian football matches and in my weirdness, I never wanted her to be alone; I would sit with her through all the matches even if we didn’t know what tournament it was.
I remember someone asking at an event I attended if anyone could remember where they were when Samuel Okparaji died, my hand shut up proudly, I vividly remember where I was, I was watching him die on TV. I was sitting beside my mum as usual and she wore a stunned look which transformed to utter sadness as he was carried away on the stretcher, she asked me to look at how his hand dangled and said he was not going to make it.
When Nigeria roared from a 4-0 defeat to eventually level the scores with 4 goals in less than 30minutes and went on to beat USSR on penalties ( i.e. the Daman Miracle) in 1989, I was with my mum listening to the car stereo so we could have a live experience of the match. This was before the days of live transmission of overseas matches, when TV sets in homes never woke up until 4p.m and returned to sleep at 12midnight.
I also recall another experience, this time with the whole family. We were watching a live Nigerian game (Tunisia 94) , and we were losing. During half time, my dad asked us to stand up, join our hands together and we prayed really hard for Nigeria to win the match. When the game returned, Nigeria gained the upper hand and played to a victorious win. Back at home, we were hysterically jubilant as was the whole street under us and my dad bought us a crate of minerals (soft drinks) to celebrate.
That seems to be the Nigeria of old. Luck always shined us, favour was never far off. This made Nigerian matches and progress in tournaments very dramatic. A current example is how we qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Today, our story seems to have changed. The hand over us seems to have turned. Our fatal fall off from the Africa Nations Cup qualifiers cannot be explained. Although we were refreshed with the Falcons towering over fellow African countries in South Africa, but when they met with their Goliaths in Germany, their Davidic weapon did not bring victory. And as if crashing out of the Olympics football game qualifications was not enough, we returned from the London Olympics without any medal of any colour whatsoever.
I no longer see the lucks and favours. Is God angry with Nigeria?