Friday, September 28, 2007

I fell in love yesterday...

...with a girl called Marta.



She go marry better husband.

Been a really interesting week (not just in football) and I hope to do a recap later today. For now, back to work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Remembering the military era

"Democracy is a bad form of government. We just haven't found one that is better."
---Winston Churchill

So many times I've heard a lot of my fellow Nigerians despair of the apparent failure that seems to be our democratic experiment at this point, and so many times I've heard them wish for a return to the days of the military when we didn't have 'militant' groups kidnapping people left, right and centre, when there was relative security and armed robbers didn't run about as freely as they do nowadays fondling the breasts of girls whose only offence is being in the wrong place at the wrong time, when there was Operation Sweep, and when NEPA even though bad, wasn't terrible.

For me, all that is wishful thinking. The fact remains that Nigeria rotted to its current state during the days that the military was in power. The problems listed above were there then, but the difference was that back then who born anybody well say im wan go do militant? Dem for just kpai am straight.

I think looking at what is happening in Myanmar (formerly Burma) in the last few days is quite instructive to act as a reminder to all Nigerians of what we had to live with under the military...

On September 22, two thousand Buddhist monks marched through the Burmese capital Rangoon and ten thousand through Mandalay, the country's second city. There were other demonstrations in five major cities across the country. Those marching through the capital were allowed to pass the house of Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who has been under house arrest for like ever. She made a brief public appearance at the gate of her residence to accept the blessings of the monks. The next day, some 15,000 more people joined the marchers, and their numbers have swelled ever since. By the day after (24 September), the numbers had swelled to make the event the largest Burmese anti-government protest in twenty years. Until yesterday, the military government exercised some form of 'restraint', probably at the prompting of China, which is the country's largest trading partner, and one of the few countries in the world that would openly trade with Burma.

However going by the BBC's reports this morning, the gloves are off, and the military has swung into action. Effective today, the junta has slapped dusk-till-dawn curfews on the country's two largest cities, and also gatherings of more than five person are prohibited. Meanwhile, truckloads of armed soldiers and riot police have been sent into Rangoon. Violence is beginning to escalate, but more importantly, efforts are currently under way to effect a blackout. Cybercafes across the country are being closed down to prevent people sending out more images of the protests, and arrests have been stepped up including that of Win Naing, a prominent pro-democracy activist who is in his 70s, and prominent comedian Zargana was also arrested overnight.

You can follow this developing story on the BBC's website...

Truth is that we did have some of this kind of thing in the early days of the Obasanjo administration, but there was a difference. Unlike the people who disappeared during the Zango-Kataf crisis under Babangida, or those who disappeared from Nekede under Abacha; unlike Mamman Vatsa who had no chance the moment Babangida decided that he should be done in, and unlike Ken Saro-Wiwa who was hanged despite the fact that no less a personality than Nelson Mandela personally pleaded with Abacha for his life, under a democracy (even Naija's flawed democracy) news of such events gets out, and the people involved may as a result stand a fighting chance. Take the case of the Apo six as an example, back in the day they would have been buried and forgotten. Back in the day (Abacha), Adams Oshimole would have either been locked away and the key given to some glutton to swallow, or he'd have been dangling at the end of a rope.

Abacha and his cronies moved a few billion from the national treasury, and we never got to hear about it until he died. We still have no clue as to what Babangida and his cronies removed. But now, Pati Etteh has made an effort to make some moves of her own and we all know what's up. Same goes for the Odilis and Iboris of the last administration, though they are yet to face justice we have an idea of their 'stewardship'. Does anyone know how much Diette-Spiff helped himself to all those years ago?

Take a look at what was probably the Burmese government's first action in this whole scenario: they banned foreign journalists from the country, then proceeded to begin to lock down all avenues of getting news out. Does anyone remember the proscription of newspapers in Naija during the Abacha days? At least for all the attempts Obasanjo (an ex-soldier) made to impose censorship, AIT's coverage of the third term debate was instrumental in bringing the end of that aberration. And I am sure that media coverage would help bring down Etteh provided the media remain unbiased and refuse to let thugs like Adedibu successfully orchestrate an opera which turns this whole sordid story into a tribal issue.

The lesson of democracy, patience, and its long term effects can best be taught from two countries. They were granted independence on the same day some sixty years back. In one of them the military stayed true to its constitutional role, and despite a lot of upheavals, never intervened in politics. The other has had four military heads of state, and like in the case of Naija, they all appear 'conveniently' at periods when democracy appears to be headed nowhere, but each have left the country worse off (well strongman number four still sits on the throne, and is backed by the world's number one democracy). The country which remained democratic through all the wahala is poised to join the club of great powers in the world, while the other is, well... still mired in poverty and internal stress. The first country is India, the other is Pakistan. Enough said.

P.S: Has anyone ever heard of Novocherkassk?

The Plot Thickens

Dokubo is shooting his mouth. Would talk about this one later, but I must state that I am enjoying this show...

Anti virus issues

I've had to deal with some major virus issues in the last few weeks, one work related, the rest helping out people who needed help. Of course some anti viruses are better than others, the question is which is good, and which is crap?

Will do a review in due course.


Juve watch

Someone has to sew Gigi a cape! To be honest, at some points in the match it was like Roma wanted to kill us, but then when you have Gianluigi Buffon in goal that can hand you ten 'free' points over the course of a season. He is the original superman!

We play Reggina this evening with the hope that the club would get back to winning ways.

0-1
1-1
1-2
2-2
Full match

FORZA JUVE!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Everything solid melts away

I saw this in today's edition of the Daily Trust. Thanks to Funmi for the link.

"Everything solid melts away"! I had been intrigued in the past few days just trying to fathom where that quotation came from; then it clicked! It is, I believe, a line, one of the more intriguing lines, from THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, by Marx and Engels. Of course, so many years ago, it was one small publication that became my epiphany in the journey towards finding a compass for understanding the phenomena of social existence. But the obscure line about everything solid meting away became the intriguing title for a book a few years ago. In my case, the reality of the dissolution of the solids of our life on the crest of time came to mind last weekend. I was in Ilorin, as I have done over the past couple of months, to monitor the state of my mother’s health and also generally feel the pulse of the community.

I was worried that so many things are just not right: there are so many people in the streets who apparently don’t have much that they are doing; governance does not seem to be touching the lives of the vast majority of people and there is a deep level of apprehension in our society which I find so overwhelming and very worrisome. The poverty which reigns in our society today has in turn engendered the desperation which has fed all manners of crimes, corner-cutting and the dissolution of the solids and sureties which we all used to valorise not too long ago.

Over the past few weeks, Nigerians have received in drips the unfolding scandal of house renovation in the National Assembly that has revealed the depth of depravity at the heart of the ruling elite in Nigeria. It is a mark of that depravity that all kinds of excuses are being manufactured by the defenders of the hairdresser-turned-Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives to explain away the huge amount of money misappropriated to ‘upgrade’ the residence of the Speaker. It is clear as daylight that the moral universe that these people occupy does not allow them to have the necessary sensitivity to be able to appreciate how deep the pain that they are inflicting on the Nigerian people is.

As if that pain is not enough, elements within the South-West caucus of the ruling PDP have decided to use the fraud of the house renovation to play the politics of base emotions in order to heat up the polity. The governors of the PDP states of the South-West are attempting to mobilise an ethnic platform to be able to intimidate the Nigerian public by telling their representatives not to accept the position of Speaker of the House zoned to Yoruba land in the current dispensation if Patricia Olubunmi Etteh is eventually found guilty by the probe panel currently sitting, and she is thrown out of the office of Speaker. So for that crop of inveterate election riggers, what matters is to save Etteh, because she is one of them, not the impropriety of misappropriating such a huge sum of money without due process using companies with questionable credentials to renovate an official residence.

If we have not vacated our indignations at the attitude of those governors, a more brazenly chauvinistic definition of the same position would come a few days later when Alhaji lamidi adedibu, the "grand commander of the Ibadan garrison of the PDP", made an entry worthy only of a "strongman" like himself. "Any attempt by members of the House to remove her (Etteh) would therefore mean removing the Yoruba nation from the scheme of things in Nigeria", Adedibu was quoted by DAILY TRUST of Wednesday, September 19, 2007, as having threatened, while receiving Patricia Olubunmi Etteh in Ibadan. Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu further urged President Yar’Adua "to immediately halt the probe ordered by the House of Representatives into the N628 million contract…" Adedibu was clearly unambiguous in his statement: "This is the Speaker we put there as our own. What concerns the Yoruba is peaceful coexistence. What they are saying about Etteh does not concern us. If you try Etteh, you are trying us. We will not submit. This is the only one we have in the West. The Yoruba people are now speaking with one voice by appealing to the members. The entire Yoruba race are speaking with one voice, that what is on the ground is more than what they are talking about. Tell Yar’Adua that he should tell his men to stop probing Etteh."

It is often said that jingoism is the last redoubt of crooks and scoundrels. By retreating into an ethnic laager, the PDP elements from the South-West hope to intimidate a broad segment of the Nigerian public to drop the probe of the scandalous misappropriation of the nation’s funds by a woman whose only qualification for the job of Speaker in the first place was her fanatical loyalty to the disgraced despot, Olusegun Obasanjo. The fact that she did not misappropriate the huge sums of money on behalf of the Yoruba people is clear to all the Nigerian people. It is therefore an insult to the Yoruba people and all the Nigerian people that the PDP elements of the South-West, all beneficiaries of a fraudulent electoral process anyway, are now attempting to divide our country again along ethnic lines just to save the skin of a barely educated hairdresser!

Now you can begin to understand why I talked about the melting away of all that was solid. How did we arrive at the sorry pass of having the number four position in our country occupied by such a lowly lady in terms of qualifications and moral certitude? It is obvious that those attempting to stave off the fate that the woman deserves are raising the stakes in order to turn an anti-corruption investigation into an ethnic assault, which can then be used to damage the fabric of national cohesion. This is the essence of the ethnic mobilisation which has been carried out in recent weeks, first by the PDP governors and most recently by the Ibadan political strongman, Alhaji lamidi adedibu.

Nigerians should not be intimidated in the effort to reach the truth of the matter in respect of the scandal, even if it is true as has been stated severally, that some of the leading whistleblowers against Etteh also suffer an integrity deficit themselves. There are stories that many of those who have turned against Etteh were in fact her earliest collaborators, and they are angry with her because she denied them of juicy committee appointments such as they occupied in the last dispensation. Stories abound about individuals who are attempting to exploit the anger of the Nigerian people just to get at madam Speaker; these include individuals alleged to have made huge sums of money from the debt cancellation deals under Obasanjo’s presidency. It is therefore appearing like the breakdown of the relationship between thieves and conmen, now taken to the public place, to tap into the anger of the Nigerian people.

Whatever went wrong in the relationship between madam Speaker and her erstwhile allies has given us an opportunity to see the depth of sleaze at the heart of the governance process in our country, and a main reason why it has become so difficult to win the battle against underdevelopment and poverty. Individuals like Patricia Olubunmi Etteh clearly do not see the positions they occupy as a covenant with the Nigerian people; being products of a rigged electoral process, they are far more interested in being in the good books of their mentors: the obasanjos and adedibus much more than in working their socks off for the interest of the Nigerian people.

It is this background that has facilitated the vain steps she took, such as going to the United States to celebrate her birthday and misappropriating N628 milion to renovate the Speaker’s residence, as well as purchase a fleet of very expensive cars. The lowly hairdresser must announce her arrival to the big league by misusing public funds! This is the basis of the mindset we are dealing with. It is in fact the reason why Nigerians must resist the crude intimidation that is being perfected along ethnic lines in order to save Patricia Olubunmi Etteh. I hope she ends up being removed from the job at the end of the probe. In the first place, because we need to call the bluff of the ethnic chauvinists; secondly, because we must fight corruption and make a case that we deserve a more appropriate attitude in the process of governance and finally, because Patricia Olubunmi Etteh does not fit the position of the number four citizen of our country: she represents the lowest common denominator, and that is not good for Nigeria.

So where does this leave the solids that melt away? We are as confounded as ever by the world about us. It is still so full of unfulfilled promises and inexorably life moves on leaving in its wake changes that might appear improbable within a timeframe but becoming inevitable within a different space-time combination. I have thought about these processes so much in the last few days, as I battled the worry and sadness which have overwhelmed me, because of the personal pains I have confronted in my mother’s ill-health, as well as the general state of health of our country. Did you catch my drift?

Juve watch

We drew with Roma on Sunday. Post match analysis (I know it's late) later...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fight Club

What is wrong with this picture?

Nothing in my opinion, I just think it would be an excellent one for Everlast's next advert.


The picture shows a cross section of our 'elected' representatives having a rather heavy handed 'banter' over the issue of Patricia Etteh and the N628 million renovation. Now, we all know that the sum of $5million (converted this morning on Yahoo) is a rather highly inflated figure even for a spanking new residential building, and for me it is a testimony to the level of Mrs. Etteh's intelligence (not to talk of greed), that she decided to chop as much as she could as soon as she could. My thinking in that regard is that she probably couldn't believe her luck that she suddenly had 'unmitigated' access to the national cake, so she needed to grab as large a slice as she could before the dream ended. Well, the people deserve the kind of leaders that they have, so we shouldn't dwell on that. Funny that this occurred on the day of Solomon Sydelle's great article which basically summarised all that has been happening recently.

Before I move on however, at the risk of sounding conceited, this should serve as a message to Nigerians about the need to (s)elect qualified people to whatever job is on offer. It is my (rather arrogant) view that Mrs. Etteh has no business occupying the position that she currently occupies. For crying out loud, the woman was plaiting hair just a few months ago, now she's suddenly the nation's number four citizen? This is not to say that you can't get sensible and reasonable people from amongst the 'lower' classes, but I mean come on...

For me however, one positive I'd like to draw from this whole is this: a few years ago, this whole Ettehgate fiasco would have been swept under the carpet as a 'family affair'. Now we have people who are so impassioned about the whole thing so as to cause a fight on the floor of the national assembly. Are we getting to a stage where accountability would begin to prevail as people like me (optimists) would want to believe? Or are they fighting because she didn't share the loot with them as the cynics would have us believe?

On that question, time will tell.

Abuja

It's been almost 4 months since Obasanjo left office. For those who reside in Abuja, it is apparently becoming that a leader by the name of Nasir Elrufai has clearly exited the scene. I was a very strong critic of Elrufai (thanks to his rudimentary methods in carrying out his demolishing exercises). Today i can clearly tell you that Elrufai is an Abuja Hero. The politician Yardua appointed has no ounce of leadership in his blood. All he is interested in doing is awarding worthless contracts. In Abuja today street lights are not working(maitama and asokoro inclusive). The parks are overgrown, the okada riders are gradually creeping into town, traffic lights are not working, water is now a scarce commodity and etc. As the saying goes the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. I rather have El-rufus the deveil than having Aliyu Modibo the unknown Devil.

The above was written by a member of the Cyber Eagles forum yesterday. Can someone please confirm? I pray to the Most High that he is just exaggerating.

Zimbabwe

Normally I'm not concerned with what is happening out there, except for this little thing bothering me about the silence of other African leaders over Mugabe's gross irresponsibility. I am sick of African leaders turning a blind eye to criminal activities in the name of 'African brotherhood'. This is one of the reasons why people like Abacha were able to get away with murder. If this is the African brotherhood shyte, then ba mu so.

Meanwhile the hypocrisy of the West in this whole issue was highlighted by a caller to the Nick Ferrari show this morning, "We don't care about the people of Zimbabwe, hell, we don't care about anyone but ourselves. If oil is found in Zimbabwe tomorrow, I can guarantee that we would be in there in seconds to remove Mugabe and 'save' Zimbabweans from him."

I didn't get the name of that caller, but I doff my hat to him.


Juve watch

One of the ironies of Sunday's game is this: la vecchia Signora coach Claudio Ranieri is actually a Roma supporter. I wouldn't go so far as to call him a Romanista, but he is close enough.

Games between Roma and Juve are traditionally amongst the most bitter in Italian football, and we've traditionally (save a handful of occasions) bruised them up the arse. Much so that to some Romanista, their worst enemy on the Italian peninsula is not Lazio (their eternal rivals), but Juve. I am touched. For us however, Roma are just another in the rather long list of pretenders to our crown as Italy's best loved and most successful club. To the Juventino, the only clubb that is actually a contender is Milan. Funny however that our rivalry with the Milanista has always been good natured and sporting, while those with Roma, Fiorentina, Napoli and now Inter (slimy cunts) have been less than desirable.

It is rather unfortunate that the gods appear to be stacked against Juve for this one. For example every single person who can play at the right side of midfield for us is out. Not only that position too. In fact, it is so bad that our injury list is beginning to look like a US casualty ward in some Iraq backwater. What with injuries to Marco Marchionni, Jean-Alain Boumsong, Zdenek Grygera, Mauro Camoranesi and Hasan Salihamidzic? Antonio Nocerino was bizzarely run over by a car earlier in the week! Then to make matters worse Jonathan Zebina is sitting out a four-match ban for gross stupidity. If I were the FAI I'd have probably even banned him for the rest of the season. Why in the name of all that is good and holy would he slap a cameraman? Fucking idiot...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Parting ways

"One of the reasons I never became England manager was because the FA thought I would take over and run the show. They were dead right." ---Brian Clough.

There's a story I heard once upon a time about that great man who during his coaching career took Nottingham Forest (shock, horror!) to the pinnacle of European football: one morning after coming from hospital where he had been for quite a while due to his increasing alcoholism, Cloughy (as he was affectionately known) saw this player on the training pitch with his Forest side. He called his assistant aside and asked who the new face was. The reply he received was that this was Teddy Sheringham, signed for (the then) whooping sum of £2million from Millwall while he (Clough) was in hospital. In fact, only the week before, he had scored the club's first goal of the season. Clough looked the assistant straight in the eye and asked who had signed Sheringham? The reply was that it was the board. "Transfer list him, I didn't ask for him, I don't want him," said the great man. A week later, Teddy was playing his football for Tottenham Hotspur.

Managers with the sometimes overbearing shadow of Clough are becoming increasingly rare, and board interference with the day to day running of teams is becoming more common. Examples: Real Madrid and the Galactico era which included the stupid sale of Makelele to Chelsea with Beckham coming in. We all saw the results of that one. Another example was Juve's rather unfortunate dismissal of DD. Luckily it hasn't (so far) come back to bite us. I mean, I can't for the life of me imagine the board at ManU foisting a footballer on Sir Fergie. It just won't happen. For me, football should be left to the football people, and finances should be left to the cash people. When you have a chairman interfering with the day to day running of the club, it can only spell disaster...

This morning, like the rest of the world, Chxta woke up to the shocking news that José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix had been sacked as the manager of Chelsea Football Club (affectionately known as ¢h€£$k¥). But maybe the news isn't a shock. Watching the owner of the club, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's reaction two nights ago when Rosenborg got their goal against Chelsea, it was evident that the man knew something that the rest of us mere mortals didn't know. The relationship between the two men had been deteriorating right from day one, and for me, the attempt to foist Andriy Shevchenko on Mourinho (and Mourinho's refusal to allow Sheva express himself on the pitch in his own way) was actually the straw that broke the camel's back. This sacking (forget the gibberish about mutual consent, this was a sacking) only took a long time coming.

The ’special one’ was deemed not so special anymore by Abramovich, and that is just another indication of why life with an oligarch is not much fun. Come on, you win the league back to back just after taking over and you get in the shit for not winning with exciting enough football? Lest we forget, Chelsea had won sod all for half a century! In any event, Mourinho will have his pick of jobs across Europe (watch out Rijkaard) and while some will say the Premier League has lost a character, some others would suggest that they’re happy to see the back of an egotistical, annoying, ill-mannered wanker who happens to be a very good football manager. But there is no question about this, Chelsea are worse off without him.

P.S: It is funny that this happened in the same week that UEFA super blazer Michel Platini wrote to all the heads of state of UEFA countries to ask for their help in protecting football from big business. While on the one hand I agree with il Capocannoniere, that all this 'unnecessary' money pouring into football is actually ruining the game, we have to be realistic. Asking the EU bigwigs to stop it is akin to asking pimps to help stop prostitution.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shenanigans

So the iPhone is coming to the UK in just over a month. Am I the only one that feels shafted already? For a princely sum of £269 we'd get our grubby hands on Steve Job's second youngest child and be like Kulutempa. Apple's preferred operator in the UK is o2, and they've announced that the device would come with contracts of £35, £45 and £55 monthly. Of course, it wouldn't be available for pay as you go users like my miserly self who would rather see the money being spent on air time than have someone deduct it from our accounts.

Permit me if I am cynical about this, but this is just another effort to shaft the British public up the arse with yet another spiked dildo. You see, because of the rather silly tax regimen that they have here, prices for every and all things in this country are way too high already. Now let's look at this 'offer' well: a spanking new iPhone in the US goes for $399 (£200), and as far as I know, you can walk in off the street and buy it without the strings of an o2 contract. Here, you get to buy the shyte for £269 ($538), then you are tied to o2 for 18 months at a minimum of £35 ($70) per month. Which translates to £630 ($1260). For that sum, I could get someone in the US to buy me the iPhone thingy, send it over to Otigba for some boys to unlock it, and send it back to the UK to use with my T-Mobile line. After all that long story, I will still have change to buy me a brand new laptop and a video iPod. Gordon Brown dey suffer dem for dis obodo sha...

What is Adedibu still doing alive?

Read this article in today's Punch, and note the following:

Meanwhile, a Peoples Democratic Party chieftain in Oyo State, Chief Lamidi Adedibu, has appealed to President Umaru Yar’Adua to save the embattled Etteh by stopping the ongoing probe into the scam in the House.

Adedibu, who spoke when Etteh visited the family of the slain member of the House, Mr. Segun Oladimeji, in Ibadan on Tuesday, said stopping the probe was one of the ways Yar’Adua could reciprocate the Yoruba, who ‘voted for him en masse’.

He said the President needed to emulate his predecessor, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who, according to him, had a way of settling controversial issues within his ‘closet.’

Turning to other members of the House that accompanied the speaker on the visit, he said, “Tell the President that he is our son.

“We know how many votes he secured from Yorubaland. If it were Obasanjo, he would have invited everybody to the closet and settle the matter and that will be the end.

“He (Yar’Adua) should learn from that. We will not accept that anything should happen to the seat being occupied by Etteh now.”

He said Etteh’s ‘trial’, as exemplified by the probe, was tantamount to putting the entire Yoruba race, whose slot the speaker was occupying, on trial.
Adedibu, who spoke through an interpreter, said, “We are all the same, whether you are from the North, East or West. This country belongs to all of us. This is the person we (Yoruba) put there to represent us.

“Tell others (lawmakers) that we need to live in peace and harmony. They should not think that they are probing Etteh; they are probing the Yoruba.

“We are not moved by the so-called investigation. We will not succumb to any intimidation. We will not accept that they do anything that will threaten the position of Etteh.

“During the eight years of Obasanjo, he did not probe anybody. We are not taking this matter lightly. We are speaking with one voice. Whatever they do against Etteh now is done against Yoruba. Please deliver our message to your colleagues.

“What is on the ground now is more than meet the eyes.

“Why do you need to probe anybody when you know you have eight years to spend – the speaker, the President of the Senate and all of you? Why do you have to strain your relationship now?”

He then turned to journalists and said that instead of whipping up ‘unnecessary emotions’, they should write reports that would explain the position of the Yoruba, as expounded by him.

Can you imagine? We are talking of holding people accountable for their actions, and some dinosaur is coming to whip up ethnic sentiments in order to further their own selfish ends. Remember my earlier post where I explicitly stated that Nigeria's 'elite' use ethnicity as a tool for their own ends? This is an excellent example. As for my Yoruba countrymen: y'all need to shoot that guy, he's a major embarrassment.


Juve watch

nocerino2.jpgReports are coming out of Italy that yet another Bianconeri player will likely be unavailable for Sunday’s match against Roma. This time it was Nocerino who was apparently taken to a hospital in Turin late Monday night after being hit by a car!

The 22-year-old midfielder suffered a concussion after he was left lying on the ground unconscious, shortly after leaving the restaurant. Mamma Mia!!! Fortunately for his family, friends ,and fans, the injuries are not considered to be life-threatening as he’s expected to return home Thursday night. No word yet on who is to blame, or whether foul play was involved at all (no pun intended).

Nocerino’s unfortunate incident begs the fan to ask the question: Are these things even supposed to happen to football players? Don’t seasonal injuries result from poorly timed tackles or insufficient warm-ups? Come on, I mean really… is this some sort of joke? Are the football gods screwing around with Juventus again? Didn’t they have a good ol’ laugh when our balding eagle defender Zebina was handed his 4 match ban last week? Or maybe those horribly insensitive gods just weren’t quite satisfied after handing Camoranesi his latest injury, on his first start of the season.

One thing is for sure, this weekend’s match against the Giallorossi will certainly be nerve-racking. One reason being, the slightly unfavoured Tiago will get his chance to prove his worth to Juventino this Sunday… Perhaps the football gods have something planned for him as well.

FORZA JUVE!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

...and the winner is?

Kanye. Nice meeting you Curtis, so long and thanks for all the fish.

Women's World Cup

What has amazed to me in the highlights I've followed religiously on the BBC of the women's World Cup is how each team plays almost the same style as their male counterparts.

You have the Germans with technique and tactical awareness, Nigeria has flair but are defensively so naive, especially on set pieces, China and Korea are hard working but are too enthusiastic, the Scandanavians are straight up and down competent with absolutely no joy, and England have all the mouth and were too ecstatic at holding the Germans to a draw after having one shot on target. The Americans are solid, but if the other teams take it a tad more serious, will stop winning anything...

However, the joy so far has been in watching the Brazilian women playing exactly, and I mean EXACTLY, the same way as Kaka, the two Rons, Rivaldo and the rest. Caressed ball passing to feet with instant control by the receiving player, then a dribble and push pass to the next player who has run hard to find space. It is absolutely delightful. And those girls, Marta (10) and Daniela (7), dem go marry better person. Uncanny really.

This W-World Cup proves one thing: coaching is everything.

Football has sod all to do with size of population, number of well managed playing fields, refereeing, how strong the league is, etc. Football is all about the style and quality of coaching.

Back to work for me, my first appraisal comes up today.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Scotland beat France

Ronaldo, Luis Figo and James McFadden are standing before God at the throne of Heaven.
God looks at them and says; "before granting you a place at my side, I must first ask you what you believe in."

Addressing Ronaldo first he asks, "what do you believe?"

Ronaldo looks God in the eye and states passionately, "I believe Football to be the food of life. Nothing else brings such unbridled joy to so many people from the slums of Rio to the bright lights of Madrid.
I have devoted my life to bring such joy to people who stood on the terraces supporting their club."

God looks up and offers Ronaldo the seat to his left.

He then turns to Luis Figo, "and you, Luis, what do you believe?"

Figo stands tall and proud, "I believe courage, honour and passion are the fundamentals to life and I've spent my whole playing career providing a living embodiment of these traits."

God, moved by the passion of the speech offers Figo the seat to his right.

Finally, he turns to Faddy "and you, James, what do you believe?"

"I believe" says Faddy "you're sitting in my seat."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Teaching Maths

Teaching Maths In 1970
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for £100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Maths In 1980
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for £100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or £80. What is his profit?

Teaching Maths In 1990
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for £100. His cost of production is £80. Did he make a profit?

Teaching Maths In 2000
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for £100. His cost of production is £80 and his profit is £20 Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Maths In 2007
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of £20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.)

P.S: Teaching Maths Bagdad:

Halliburton buys a truckload of lumber for $80. It uses the lumber to build huts in Iraq and charges US taxpayers $100. How long will the war last considering that Halliburton and others are obscenely profiteering from the war each day it continues?


Juve watch

Now that the international bullcrap is over, we can get back to the serious business of football once again. On Sunday we play host to Udinese.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

E no easy

So life has firmly gotten in the way of my writing. I'm currently torn between my dissertation and work, so blogging definitely has to suffer, or does it?

Another kidnap in PH

Last night my closest friend Tex sent me a series of texts which in a nutshell told the story of a siege by an armed group of 'militants' on the house just next door to his. As of today, he has been able to confirm that the 'militants' were at the residence of Ben Dimkpa, chairman Independent Petroleum Marketers was attacked last night. Dimkpa himself wasn't in, so his cousin Siito Gbarabeand was taken and 30 million naira has been demanded for his release...

Some 'militants' huh?

This brings me back to the gun issue that is still under discussion in one of my previous articles. A few people remain firmly rooted in the belief that gun control is the way forward in Naija. I still beg to differ, and a comment that Fred made rings very true:

The fact of the matter is simple and all too human (read--common sense): the police, no matter how good, will never be able to adequately and pro-actively protect you, the average citizen. Self-defense is a Human Right, and Government taking away the only way to adequately protect oneself against armed attack is tantamount to allowing murder, as is the case in many Third World countries, which all have very stringent anti-gun laws, yet life is tragically cheap and in the hands of the criminals.

Guess who the only ones who disregard the government order to turn in their guns are? Right. The criminals. Because, you know … they're criminals!

I wanted to briefly touch the Madeleine McCann scenario, but it is back to work...

Funny side of football

Cynics (like me) who think women's football isn't competitive were left looking foolish yesterday afternoon, when Germany beat Argentina 11-0 in the women's World Cup curtain raiser in Shanghai.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

U-17 semi final analysis

I've not seen so much attention to detail in anything in quite a while. Enjoy reading...

I just returned from Suwon Sports Complex for Nigeria-Germany. My impressions:

The Game (1st half)
01. Nigeria has athletes. They had a dangerous mix of sheer speed, quickness, plus soccer savvy. Not brilliant ball skills like Latin/South America -- no dribbling wizardry. But good enough at trapping, passing, enough skill to play heads-up, aggressive in looking for breaks and through-balls, fast everywhere (especially in defense), endless hustle in midfield, and a poacher/shooter in Christanus -- like a confident Eddie Johnson. Exactly the kind of team that could give a dour technical German team fits.

02. I arrived late, 1-0 at 15' (see #23 below). So Germany was already chasing the game. (Replays at fifa.com show that Nigeria swung a corner out, Germany headed clear to ~22m, Alfa sent in a Feilhabish volley, Vollath spilled it, Christanus poached and rounded him at 5m, and did a lunging sit-down slide-poke at the goal line to beat a defender.)

03. In midfield defense, Nigeria were quick to converge, confident in judging tight distances, and aggressive in lunges, so their big weapon was the poke-away. Germany's short passing ball control might be 2-diameter good (i.e. ball rebounds only 2 diameters from trapper's foot), but they could manage only 2-3 passes like that in a row, and then they'd make a 3-diameter mistake, and a Nigerian foot would always sneak in and disrupt for a steal. Germany's short-passing attack rate was about 3 balls into Nigeria's box all game vs. 40 balls poked away (and 100+ passes missed). Germany never seemed to appreciate the range of Nigeria's poke-aways, and kept playing the same short dart passes to "open" guys, which ultimately frittered away most of their possessions.

04. In final 1/3 defense, Nigeria played high-pressure at the top of the box, congesting all of the passing lanes. They were individually so fast that Germany's forwards never could gain separation for clear through-balls.

05. About 5 times Germany did spring a wide-open cutter at the top of box heading straight in, but the passing window was so tight that the final pass missed (by ~2 diameters or less). These happened sporadically, after Nigeria had overrotated for some reason or another -- Germany couldn't create them methodically, and had no idea when or where the next one would come.

06. Germany's Richard Sukuta-Pasu is a stud, and could overpower/outrun any Nigerian defender 1-v-1. But his wing forwards couldn't gain separation, so when he carried the ball from midfield himself, he had no outlets. When he played with his back to the goal at top of box, Nigeria man-marked him tightly, let him receive the entry pass, then jammed him (hip check) just as he turned, so that he could never catch up to his own ball, while other defenders lurked in the passing lanes to deprive him of support. He didn't get one clean look all game. Clearly Nigeria scouted him well, and game-planned to shut him down.

07. In attack, Nigeria could dribble fast, or play a decent short/wide passing game with overlapping runners, or send long through-balls to sprinters (which implies that they sprint, see, and try the pass), or shoot from long range. They did all 4 at about a B/B+ level. Their long passes often missed, they were just as susceptible to poke-away themselves, and their long shots were often easy catches by Vollath (Germany GK). But it's OK to be speculative on offense, particularly when you're already ahead. 3 jackpots will win a lot of matches, and the incessant probing and gear-shifts kept scrambling Germany's defense.

08. At 18', Alfa hoofed an outrageous speculative long shot from about 5m behind the box top corner to the far upper corner -- 35m if it's straight in. It deflected off a defender, homed in at center just below the crossbar, Vollath tipped it up, but because its lateral component was so significant, he couldn't get it high enough to clear the far post corner. 2-0, and Germany still hadn't settled down.

09. At 33', Germany won a poke-away duel at Nigeria's box top (IIRC they got the ball back while Nigeria was in defense-to-offense transition), and sent in a ball for Sukuta-Pasu running right to left. He dropped off to Kroos running left-to-right, Kroos cut back left to separate from 1 guy, and fired low left post from about 14m, just over a slide tackle (that he then tripped over, but who cares). 2-1, and if Germany could just keep doing that ... (But no, Nigeria didn't let either of them see that much open grass again.)

The Fans
10. Nigeria had a fan section of about 200 people.
11. They all wore the same white-and-green shirt.
12. They stood up the entire match. And jumped up and down to the beat.
13. They had four trumpeteers. Playing 4-part harmony (or antiphony, with 3 on the refrain + 1 ace/soloist). Plus a big drum, and 2-3 handheld metal bell. They played two sets, of 50 minutes each. Non-stop.
14. They all sang. They all knew the words. Some songs had mandatory hand-waves and body swaying, and they all knew that, too.
15. So did Nigeria's players (and the hipper members of their coaching staff).
16. The rest of the stadium was disappointingly empty. 3500 total attendance, pitiful for a FIFA semifinal. (I didn't care about either team, but I figured, how many times in my life will FIFA put a semifinal within jogging (ahem -- ok, I walked the last bit) distance of my domicile, for $5 walk-up? Then the trumpets, and jumping up and down with Nigeria's fans, made me care about Nigeria.)
17. Late in the 2nd half, a Korean-led drum team set up a competing Germany cheering section. They didn't sing or jump up and down, and I think they were actually cheering "Ger-ma-ny!", which is inaccurate (Germans would say "Deutschland"). I couldn't really hear them over the trumpets, though

The Game (2nd half)
18. Germany came out in full-fight mode, with frenzied berserker midfield pressure. Nigeria bunkered somewhat. For ~20 minutes, Nigeria couldn't advance the ball 15m beyond midfield -- Germany just wanted the ball back more than Nigeria's short-passing skills could keep it. With dominant possession, Germany launched waves of runs. Nigeria bent but never broke, and rope-a-doped Germany.

19. 4-5 Nigerians wilted with injuries/cramps -- real or faux. One guy actually took the stretcher ride, two guys waved it off. About the 3rd time they did this, the ref may have had enough -- a Nigerian fouled a German foray ~5m outside box top, ~1m from sideline, then went down with cramps. The ref awarded the FK, and the prone Nigerian was literally lying adjacent to the ball -- encroachment! The ref quite firmly ordered the Nigerian off the field -- "You're only 1 meter from the sideline, you've got one good calf left, use it" -- presently the Nigerian climbed to his foot, hopped twice, and lay down along the sideboard (out of our view). The Germans took the FK, it was cleared for a corner, they took that, it got cleared, Nigeria broke out, lost the ball, Germany brought the ball back and lost it -- and here comes the Nigerian trainer, puttering around the endline toward his player, who is still taking a breather with only his knees visible above the sideboard

20. Late in the game, both teams were ragged, but Germany was gassed, and running out of ideas. Nigeria always looked dangerous on the break, but lack wizardry/coolness in finishing, so they frittered away a dozen or so decent situations.

21. Nigeria's final goal sequence was truly bizarre -- FIFA's replay and description does not begin to describe it. IIRC, it goes like this:

- Nigeria 2-1 Germany, 92.5' into 4' of extra time, so it's Germany's last gasp.
- Nigeria gets a 3-on-1 at midfield, heads right up the middle.
- Short pass to center ~30m out, 1-v-1 -- he rounds his guy and busts in, with flankers on both sides!
- Dribbler lures last defender, drops short forward pass to the left guy, collides with that defender (which hobbles defender's ankle) ...
- ... Vollath (GK) is frozen on the right, left guy shoots with left instep to center, nets!
- Nigerian fan block screams.
- Injured defender is bent over with one hand down to his ankle, the other arm up for offside.
- AR flags left guy offside, NO GOAL.
- Vollath also pleads for offside for 0.5 seconds, gets the call, and in one fluid motion, turns, digs ball out of his net, runs forward two steps, puts ball down, and (without straightening up from his crouch) goal-kicks the ball into play to his left wingback.
- It dawns on Nigerian fan block that the goal was disallowed -- some air leaks out of their joy balloon.
- Nigeria's right forward intercepts!! Passes left to Akinsola about 2m behind box top right.
- Vollath, paralyzed in shock, is stranded off his line, still where he took the GK. Injured defender stands like Kerri Strug on one foot, he hasn't moved either from where he got hurt.
- Akinsola, with his head up (Nigeria can do that), touches once, and lobs Vollath from 20m. (In FIFA's highlights, this is the lob you see arcing over Vollath's head.)
- There is no doubt about this one -- ref immediately points to center circle -- the injured defender sits down -- Akinsola runs to the corner flag --
- It dawns on Nigerian fan block that it is a GOAL --
- It dawns on Nigeria's other players --
- It dawns on FIFA's Jumbotron operators du jour --
- 3-1.

22. As penance for being caught flat-footed, the Jumbotron operators make amends by showing the FIFA "Full Time" graphic, with final score and scoring summary, before the ref blows the final whistle. The game continues for another 30 seconds while the Jumbotron placidly, uh, predicts the future. We wonder: If Germany had scored on their final Hail Mary, would the Jumbotron update the scoring summary in real-time? I would pay to see that.

Miscellany
23. I cannot jog from my lab to my apartment to the stadium in 30 minutes. It takes 40. Then I circumnavigated 330 degrees of arc around the stadium looking for the ticket booth. Should have turned right!

24. My camcorder tape lasts only from 16' to 30' -- interrupted by staffer zealotry (no doubt abetted by the completely unobstructed sightlines in the 98% of the stadium not in the lee of the Nigerian fan block). So I got only Alfa's and Kroos's goals.

25. We need some fans like Nigeria's fans! (Germany is thinking the same thing.)

culled from Big Soccer

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Anatomy of a strike

The tube network is gradually getting back to normal after the strike, but be warned that you'll still face major delays on your way to work, and probably still have the opportunity to watch some fights.

I came into the UK for my MSc. programme on 4 September, 2006, that means that yesterday made exactly a year since I have seen home, and like I said a mere two months after, I miss home. Thanks to the RMT though, yesterday morning I saw something that reminded me of Lagos, and this morning on my way to work, I took my camera along hoping to feast y'all on some nice images. Sadly though, there was no fight to photograph this morning, and the strike is off. Yesterday (and the evening before) was divine though. Crowded trains and buses, people gasping for air at every stop, and two full grown men complete with suits and laptop bags coming to blows at Clapham Junction...On a more serious note, a maro na ndi ocha ne ri ego. The story behind the strike which crippled London for almost 48 hours reads like a Lucky Igbinedion-eqsue piece of action.

A quick summary (no expose, I'm at work): there was this firm Metronet which was responsible for the maintenance of most of the tube. According to the gist, the company was running well over budget, and this was set to continue until somewhere along the line their position became untenable because someone high up said enough is enough and refused to keep putting more money down the toilet. The company went into administration, that fancy British method of saying that the company went bankrupt.

The problem with this administration thing is that on the one hand, a new company would take over and as is usual in such matters, a lot of people would loose their jobs. Problem with that is that the day to day workers are the ones who usually get the hard end of the stick, loose their jobs, and pensions, while the fat cats get golden parachutes for essentially leading the company into failure. This is where the RMT stepped in and began their equivalent of 'we no go gree'. And London suffered.

For me, one big question arises though, how did a company which was once reported to be making as much as £3 million a day go bust? Who has eaten the money? Other than that, I am cynically looking forward to the next strike which is scheduled for Monday, and as we speak is still on. This time around, I must take my camera along. Who knows, I might bump into a potential World Heavyweight Boxing champion...

A prelude to fraud?

Snazzy wrote a rather interesting article about something that we should keep an eye out for. His observation is dead on point. If this Phil Nugent Group was something to be reckoned with, and worth throwing $1 billion at, then the least they can do is come top in the Google rankings. Funny to find that Snazzy's own article is number two in those rankings. Watch this space...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

We wuz almost robbed

I must have aged by at least five years watching Juve's game against Cagliari today. It was a rather poor performance by my old lady, and to be honest, we really played like one.

One thing I just have to say, I can't understand why for the love of God, not just with Juve but in all Italian football, why the fuck do defenders feel the need to hold onto players? FFS it's just plain retarded. We nearly dropped points today because of two idiotic plays by Legro and Zebina. Keep your hands off the fucking guy. Jeez!

But then again after Camoranesi came in things changed a bit in the positive way and we managed to win luckily 2-3. The best player from Juve was Camoranesi. I think when Legro came in for Cristico things went from bad to worse, but still we won and that matters. 3 points are 3 points.

Here are my player ratings:

Gigi [8] - What a goalkeeper. He made some miracle saves on Cagliari players and saved us a numerous times. We could have easily conceded five were it not for him. When the highlights of the saves are available I'll put them up. They need to be seen to be believed.

Zebina [4] - Poor match from Zebina. A foul that resulted in a penalty and a red card. Then to make matters worse he slapped a steward. If this were England he'd be facing a hefty fine and lengthy spell on the sidelines. Remember Cantona anyone?

Andrade [5.5] - Didn't do anything special but didn't make any crucial mistakes either.

Criscito [5] - He had a lot of troubles with Matri. Wasn't good in the air either.

Giorgio [5.5] - He was very nervous today and was lucky not to get a red card when the ref awarded that penalty (which was later called off). Great goal in the end.

Brazzo (Salimahidzic to non-Juventino) [5.5] - A lot of passes wasted, and didn't have much runs on the right either. Let's just hope his injury isn't serious.

Almiron [5] - Sometimes I was wondering where the hell was Almiron. It just wasn't his day.

Zanetti [6] - He at least tried to do something. Some tackles, and some good passes. Silly yellow card though.

Neddy [6] - He is 35 but plays like he was 25. He was all over the pitch, but like all our players, did nothing special. But his work rate was tremendous.

Trez [6] - He was nowhere today, but in his first and only chance, he scored and that's what makes him a great striker.

Alex [5] - Scored a goal (all the merits go to Camoranesi though) and got a foul from which we scored the winning goal. Incredible miss in the end of the first half though.

Subs:

Legro [5] : A foul that resulted in a penalty. Not the best of starts in the new season for Legro.

Camo [7.5] : Damn I'm glad he's back. Two assists (the first one should've been his goal though). Perfect crosses and perfect passes.

Nocerino : No rating as he wasn't on the pitch long enough...

One more thing: Fuck you ref! I think I'd better wait until I calm down before talking about him...