Saturday, September 30, 2023


Nigeria v Sudan: The adventure of a working fan

Nigeria v Sudan: The adventure of a working fan
October 31
19:37 2014

Stephen Keshi’s reinstatement after being sacked despite Super Eagles 3-1 win over Sudan jogs the memory of TheCable’s sports reporter who was at the scene of the events.

Here is the diary of a working-fan.



Aside my phones (this is even a recent development), I normally go to the stadium with a notepad and pen.


On Wednesday, I went as a working fan for the first time.

I’ve been to the stadium more than anywhere else.

In fact, my first game away from the TV was in 1984 when my cousin took me to the National stadium in Lagos for the game between Nigeria and Morocco.


It ended goalless but then onward, I have never been clueless when it comes to football.

So, I normally go to the stadium ‘light’ but against Sudan, I had my laptop, laptop charger, laptop bag (obviously), mouse, notepad, pen, stopwatch (more like human stopwatch because my senior colleague, Kunle Solaja, more or less supplied the missing minutes), bottled water, Coca-Cola, internet modems (two, in fact – one as back-up).

Watching the game and covering it at the same time was one hell of a job.

Multi-tasking had a new meaning because I was viewing the game, writing my report, observing the fans, gathering additional information from Mr. Solaja, securing my laptop and phones, then chatting with a fan who was impressed with my activities.


I appreciate match reports.

I now appreciate it more after the experience as a working fan.


There are different uses for a campaign poster.

Politicians use it to tell voters why they are the right person for the job, stating what the people would benefit from voting them into power.


Non-politicians have uses for it too.

Roast corn and fried yam sellers can use it to wrap their wares to their customers.


A fan inside the Abuja national stadium was almost torn to shreds after using the other side of it to call for Keshi’s sack.

It must be Keshi’s personal god fighting on his behalf because it’s “Buhari for President” which he displayed unintentionally that caught the attention of ‘PDP’ members.


Insults and curses rained on him and his few supporters.

They fired back but eventually, his “Keshi Must Go” poster-turned-placard had to be lowered for peace to reign.




Keshi’s hands in the air again, while others go crazy

I am not saying Stephen Keshi should imitate Mexico’s coach, Miguel Herrera whose wild celebration after each goal from his players was one of the high points in the last World Cup in Brazil.

But come on Big Boss, you can do better than just stretching your hands in the air with a wry smile to match.



Release the bottled-up motion.

But don’t imitate Herrera.


Fans invade Abuja stadium for Nigeria vs Sudan match

The Jamaican may be the world’s fastest man but he would have bitten the dust against the Super Eagles players and officials on Wednesday.

At the sound of the referee’s final whistle, fans invaded the pitch and John Mikel Obi et al feared the worst and ran for their dear lives.

Some of the fans were on the pitch to celebrate the victory with the players while to others it was a case of “your jersey or…!”

The players fled and the fans were in hot pursuit, reminiscent of a cop chasing a robber.

And it was the Nigerian police on horses and officials of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps and their dogs who dispersed the unruly crowd.

So, Mikel can run?


Bob Marley didn’t want to in vain for someone’s love but journalists had to.

We waited in vain at the venue of the post-match press conference for the coaches and captains of both side for a chat.

Five minutes turned to 10 then 15.

It was only obvious we had been stood up when a stadium official impolitely said he needed to shut the place.

Journalists gave him a piece of their mind.

He was not one to break the wall and run.

He fought back.

But it got me thinking and I remembered 2014 World Cup.

FIFA fined the Argentina FA 300,000 Swiss Francs (about $336,215) for failing to comply with their procedural regulations for press conferences.

Only manager Alejandro Sabella was present ahead of matches against Nigeria, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands when at least one player was required to attend the sessions as well.

FIFA stated:

“The objective of the said regulations is inter alia to allow media, and ultimately fans, to have an opportunity to follow a team’s preparations, while also allowing each team to have the best possible environment for those preparations.”

Those were pre-match conferences.

Maybe FIFA are silent about post-match.

Like NFF after the 3-1 win.

Press Conference

Keshi at a press conference during the World Cup


Olusegun Obasanjo (not real name) is a diehard soccer fan.

He loves Chelsea football club and the Super Eagles, but surprisingly stayed away from the stadium despite the game being Free of Charge (FOC).

He owns the bar I went to cool off after the match and being clad in blue of Chelsea with a face cap to match, I assumed he was just coming back from the stadium as well.

‘’How did you see our performance today?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders and I was expecting a fair analysis unlike one that might be called Pinocchio-style often used by his coach, Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese manager sang the praises and stressed the importance of Fernando Torres to his team before sanctioning his sale to Milan few days later.

“Inside the stadium,” he begins.

“You can’t drink beer. You can’t smoke. And I cannot watch football without those two. I can’t do without my holy trinity.”

Football. Beer. Cigarette.

Some holy trinity!


Abuja city    

Next time I’ll remain in a place when on official assignment.

Erase that thought as a journalist because news and events won’t happen in your bedroom – unless you practise yellow journalism!

Let’s rephrase it then.

Next time, I’ll come with my own car and a driver!

I don’t know Abuja like the back of my palm so going about the city was quite expensive.

From the airport to where I lodged to NFF office to stadium (three times) to FIFA Goal Project to this to that left a hole in my pocket to fill the hole in cab drivers’ pouch.

Entering buses and Keke Napep would have exposed me as a Johnny Just Come if I kept asking for direction.

The cab drivers didn’t find me out.

My pocket did, though!


Air hostesses

Books on customer service are worthless when you can get all you need, for free, watching air hostesses go about their jobs.

Bus drivers, conductors, touts in motor parks and on major bus stops, service girls in Mama Put joints, when-the-boss-is-not-watching employees should take a cue from those pretty ladies with smiling faces.

Most CSO (Customer Service Officer) in banks come a close second to air hostesses, considering they face these same bus drivers, conductors, touts in motor parks and on major bus stops, service girls in Mama Put joints, when-the-boss-is-not-watching employees demanding for quality service they don’t give.


Commuting between Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport and the nearest commercial or residential centre in Abuja through the only means available, to someone without a waiting vehicle at his beck and call inside the airport, a taxi costs N5, 000.

Leaving Murtala Mohammed Airport to NAHCO, on the right, or Ikeja Under-bridge, on the left, costs N50.

Welcome to Lagos!


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