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Thursday, February 10, 2022

Juju in African football


 The 2021 edition of the 33rd African Cup of Nations has come and gone. And the new champions of the African continent are the Teranga Lions of Senegal who waited for sixty full years to clinch the trophy and title they have now clinched for the very first time in their football history after numerous and numerous tries. They did so this year (2022) at the expense of the Pharaohs of Egypt with a total of seven championship victories.


Had they defeated the Teranga Lions last Sunday of February 6, 2022, they would have been champions eight times to increase their record of victories one more time. And they would have achieved the feat away from home and in Cameroon, the home of The Indomitable Lions, a significantly major force of African football, of all places. But the Pharaohs fell to the Teranga Lions aforesaid in the final that was expected to be between the Indomitable Lions and the Pharaohs (after Nigeria very surprisingly fell by the wayside).

What was expected to be, however, did not happen.

The Pharaohs and the Indomitable Lions met in one of the semi-finals instead of in the final. And the Indomitable Lions, despite their massive home support, could not consume the Pharaohs, who in 2019 experienced the pains and pangs of defeat when they hosted the 32rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt and in their home turf. Algeria emerged as the winners and champions of that edition after beating and taming the Teranga Lions, who have just won the latest edition – as we all already know. And the Foxes of Algeria, the defending champions, were out-foxed and sent packing out of Cameroon in the group stage.

What happened? What went wrong? How come that the minions and babies of African football were instrumental in their unforeseen super early departure from the tournament? And who gave the Teranga Lions any ounce of hope of reaching the final and even of clinching the title of champions of Africa in view of their dismal performances in the group stage and subsequent rounds up to the final? And why did the Super Eagles of Nigeria fall in the round of sixteen to the Tunisians, the no-hopers, after Nigeria emerged as the best team of the group matches with three over three victories, and the only team and country to win that crown in the tournament? These are huge questions. But the answer, the collective answer emanating from them, is simple, albeit it has some connotations relating to the other world outside the world we know. In other words, the collective answer lies in the realm of spiritual forces of the other world, the outer world distinct from that of here and now.

You may brand me as a writer of superstition. But you will be wrong and wrong and decidedly wrong and wrong to so brand me. On the eve of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, just before the qualified teams and countries departed for Cameroon, a Senegalese witch-doctor or traditional medicine-man said it loud and clear that the Teranga Lions would lift the trophy, no matter what. He would definitely see to that. The Senegal based priest of shamanism without mincing words “prophesied” that the Teranga Lions would shamble to the final and to the final victory: their ungainly hunt right from the beginning would lead them to the shambles where they would feast an all preys in the final – against the Pharaohs.

The Olembe Stadium in Yaounde became the place where the Egyptians were brought to be slaughtered by the Senegalese. From the beginning to the very end it was a final match of force versus force. The very early penalty Mane of Senegal earned his team came to naught when the very player who earned it was charmed to direct his kick to India, which was straight to the waiting gloves and palms of the goal-keeper of Egypt. Indeed, Mane was commanded to play his penalty to India and he did. Would the force of Egypt shame the force of Senegal after all? Would the priest of shamanism directing his missile all the way from Dakar win against the immense and mighty magic of the Cairo magicians who blunted the fangs and claws of The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon earlier? The spiritually controlled penalty kicks, which constituted victory fluke for the Pharaohs were hit by a fluke of misfortune in the final against the Teranga Lions. And the Egyptians, excellent penalty shooters against the Cameroonians in the second semi final match, were flummoxed. Where was their magic against the Cameroonians? The priest of shamanism blunted it. And Senegal prevailed.

Now, in the bronze medal match between Burkina Faso and Cameroon the latter rose from the dead to tie the match 3-3. At Burkina Faso 3 Cameroon 0, everyone thought that the Burkina men had won. But the Cameroonians who had other ideas unleashed their magic to draw the game. In the ensuing penalty shootout the Cameroonians who were charmed penalty-kickers against the Egyptians became fabulous penalty takers against Burkina Faso whose diviners slept off in the false belief that Cameroon had already kicked the bronze match bucket. But the divine desires of Cameroonians prevailed in the end. Their divine priest and hero who were compelled to desert them against the Egyptians returned to tantalize the Burkina men and their diviners and spiritual warriors.

In the case of Nigeria, everything was geared towards the fall of the Super Eagles in the round of sixteen against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia. The beautiful feathers and wings of the Super Eagles became their ultimate self-overpowering weakness. All haters of the powers, physical and spiritual, behind the Super Eagles prayed and worked against our team. Those who don’t want the current Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to succeed were at work. Those who detested the presidency and the ones who are in charge of our national affairs, in every way, prayed against our team and worked for the descent and defeat of our Super Eagles. Thus their claws were blunted and their flying wings were turned into wings of weaklings. All the errors they committed were errors designed by incantations against them. Those who make Nigerians sad and un-happy with policies that crush them have no moral right to bask in our team’s sunlight of victory. Like a black ox, they should snort and bellow as they go before their plough bellowing victory they will never get or enjoy even if they get it. (And all those who are not comfortable with the looters of our patrimony should be appeased before we meet Ghana at the deciding matches that will take (or un-take) Nigeria to the Qatar World Cup this year).

Where have I landed? All victories and defeats earned and suffered in the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations came through the gracious help of African power, African juju that is. You better believe me. Everything that happened in Cameroon was unusually unusual. You better believe me.

As for Nigeria, let me reiterate: our central government and NFF must do the necessary, the needful and the rightful before we meet Ghana in the matches to determine who will go to Qatar between the two African powerful football nations. You better believe me.

CC: The Guardian

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