Category Archives: National Football
Today is the finals of the UEFA champions league. For the first time in a long while, two German teams would spar at one of football’s greatest grounds, Wembley, in England to determine the winner of European topmost club football crown. Like in the past, predicting the teams that would play in the final had always been as difficult as knowing exactly how tomorrow would be. However, we have had pundits, analysts and commentators made attempts to narrow down potential finalist particularly after group stages of the competition.
While Bayern Munich had always been represented strongly in the finals of this completion, Borussia Dortmund is playing its first since 1997 when they famously defeated Juventus to win their first and only trophy in this competition. One thing I clearly remember in that match was that Zinedine Zidane (one of the greatest players to have ever graced the pitch) was shackled throughout. He couldn’t do anything of note during the duration of the match as Dortmund ran away 3 – 1 winners.
Unlike most Arsenal fans, I was not agitated or angry over Robin Van Persie’s exit from the Emirates in the summer of 2012. What engaged my mind was the fact that a major rival had gained a supreme attacking firepower with Arsenal being the loser in the real sense of it. And tonight, with three goals in the match that clinched the 20th league title for the Red Devils, RVP justified the huge confidence Sir Alex Ferguson had in him to have parted with such a big transfer for a 30 year-old.
Looking at the second goal he scored from the long racking ball from Wayne Rooney, one couldn’t but marvel at the quality of the Dutch striker. He took the ball one-time with his famous left foot and it nestled in the top left corner. That second goal will surely count among the best goals of this season.
The exploits of the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the last Africa Nations Cup are still fresh in our memories. Like many outstanding teams of the past, they must now focus their attention on the new challenge ahead of them. Getting soaked in or carried away by past successes had been the albatross of potential greatness in some of our past teams.
I could recall the euphoria that followed our triumph at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the United States of America after the ‘Dream Team’ won the gold medal of the men’s football event. It was as if Nigeria had won the FIFA World Cup. Being the first African country to achieve that feat didn’t help matters as we were celebrated by all and sundry.
My last post on this blog was about Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Since then, they lost the CL match at home to Bayern Munich, struggled to beat Aston Villa and conceded two ‘silly goals’ in three minutes to red hot Tottenham at White Hat Lane to drop off the pace for Champions League qualification. It is not that loss that’s annoying but the manner of it. For 30 minutes or so, Arsenal stood strong against the powerful strike force of Bale, Adebayor and Lennon but without any clear-cut offensive play.
In over half an hour of play, Arsenal could not muster any solid shot at goal against an average Spurs defense. If this does not cut a pathetic picture, I wonder what would. Tottenham were organized in the middle of the pack and very, very quick in counter attack. With Bale and Lennon running riot both centrally and on the wings, Arsenal had no answer to the quick fire counter attacks that resulted in the two goals that downed them within a space of three minutes.
The saying that the only constant thing in life is change is quite apt when viewed from the background of Arsenal particularly with the most recent in their series of debacles. With all likely routes to silverware almost closed (except a miracle happens and Arsenal wins the European Cup), Wenger and his team face the toughest challenge of explaining away what happened on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger is obviously a very determined man. His determination could be seen from the level of his commitment to his ideas and visions. To him, the new standard to measure success at the top level, at least in the Premiership is qualification for the Champions League. And he has always managed to achieve this for the past 14 seasons.