Clash of the titans_Okutuate Benson Ayah
Ladies and gentlemen, I heartily welcome you all to this great
football war. Today’s match is between the Military Bombers and the
Civilian Scorpions, both of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
This crucial match promises to be an epic battle. This match has been
well publicised in the press much more than any football match in the
football annals of this country. Some people have christened it the
mother of all battles. Some have named it the clash of the titans while
others say it is the greatest football war of the century.
Right now, I can see the centre referee and his two assistants moving
into the pitch. I can also see the players from the opposing teams,
filling out, in their colourful jerseys.
I think it would be worthwhile at this juncture to give you a run-down
of the players in both teams. But before I do that, let me quickly
inform you that the best of players have been selected in both teams
and I’m optimistic that we shall witness a highly technical and
thrilling encounter, and spectators would have value for their money.
As a matter of fact, spectators have paid very exorbitant gate fees to
watch this important locking of horns.
I know you must be wondering which players would be playing in
this match. Let me not keep you in suspense. On the side of the
Military Bombers, we have in goal a young major. He has an athletic
built and he is spotting jersey number one. He is a fine goal-keeper
who can stop dangerous goal-bound shots on a good day. In number
two shirt is a well-known traditional ruler. He is a reputable defender.
In number three is a strong politician from the ancient city of Ibadan.
In number four is a former Awoist. He is also an intellectual. He plays
good football and he’ll be a delight to watch. In number five jersey, I
can see a wealthy Muslim cleric. He is also from Ibadan. And
standing close to him, I can see a former governor who served in the
Second Republic. They used to call him the weeping governor. He’s
in number six jersey. In the outside right position (number 7) is a
millionaire from the eastern part of the country. I hear he’s an airline
magnate. He is also a wonderful player whenever he is in good form.
In the number eight position we have a millionaire and maverick
politician. He is a very eccentric politician. He is noted for being a
free-kick specialist. He reminds me of Stoikov, the Bulgarian
international footballer. In number nine I can see Alhaji Weather. He’s
a dangerous striker any day. I hope he would be well-policed in this
game. And in number ten shirt, I can see the master dribbler and ball
juggler himself. He is undoubtedly the most skilful and ruthless
player on his side. His fans have inexplicable trust and faith in his
ability to deliver goals. Many of his supporters have vowed that they
would cause confusion and go on the rampage if this taciturn and
bulky player does not score goals to ensure victory for his side. He is
the most deadly football striker Nigeria has ever produced. His name
is the Maximum Dictator. He is also the captain of his side. I can see
the captainship band on his arm. His physique reminds me of the
legendary Diego Armando Maradona of Argentina. And lastly,
spotting jersey number eleven is a YEAA stalwart. He is a very
sensational player who is noted for playing to the gallery. He is
apparently the youngest player on his side. And on the reserve bench
are a fun-loving general in the Nigeria Army; a former diplomat; a
well-known business man, and a big time government contractor. All
of them are professional footballers in their own right.
On the side of the Civilian Scorpions, we have as the goal-keeper a
lawyer who was a governor in the Second Republic. He is from the
South-West. He is a very good goal tender, noted for saving penalty
kicks. In number two shirt, I can see a young retired colonel. I am
told he has blue blood flowing in his veins. He is a good defender in
his own right. For a player to meander pass him, such a player must
be a good dribbler because he’s a trustworthy sweeper. He is also
known for his overlapping runs upfront. Spotting jersey number three
is a Legal Luminary. I can see he’s bespectacled. He’s an enterprising
footballer. He hardly runs out of steam. I think he’s capable of
playing for two hours continuously without getting exhausted. He is a
player to watch out for. He reminds me of Daniel Omokachi the
Nigerian International. In number four position, I can see a United
Action for Democracy stalwart. He is a good ball header. They call
him the Head Master. Wearing number five shirt is an Ijaw National
Congress (I.N.C.) leader. He is frail-looking but very strong. He is in
charge of oiling the midfield. In fact, he is a midfield dynamo. Putting
on number six shirt is a former vice president in the Second Republic.
He is the leader of the G34. He is a spectacular player. In the outside
right position, we have a medical doctor. I think he’s the leader of the
Campaign for Democracy (C.D.). He has just recovered from a knee
injury and has been certified fit to feature in this duel. I hope we’ll
see those exciting runs into his opponents’ vital area. In number eight
shirt, I can spot a National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) leader.
He is old but very experienced. He is a very skilful attacker that can
wreck any porous defence at will. He is his side’s captain. In jersey
number nine is the irrepressible labour leader. He is extremely a fast
attacking machine. The Military Bombers need to be wary of him in
this game or else he would cause trouble for their defence. And in
number ten shirt is the much publicised Mr. June 12. He is the most
popular striker on his side. He’s a match maker any day. His deadly
shots hardly miss the net. His opponents need at least two defenders
to keep him at bay. We hope to see a great game from him today. Last
but not least, we have in number eleven attire, a literary guru. He is a
Nobel Laureate. His bushy hair are all grey in colour. He is a natural
winger. We hope to see a lot of action from him. And on the reserve
bench are a retired senior Air Force officer; a former external affairs
minister who is also a professor. Also on the bench are Mr.
Independence Motion Mover. He’s a veteran and an indefatigable
footballer. He is a paradigm of an old soldier that never dies. We also
have a MOSOP leader, and a former Student Union leader who is
The centre referee is a middle aged gentleman. I haven’t see him
officiate in a match before but I’m told he is a FIFA graded referee.
The first assistant referee, I hear, is from the press while the second
assistant referee is from the international community.
The stadium is the biggest in the whole of Africa, having a sitting
capacity of over one hundred million spectators. The match is
expected to be a do or die battle. I can see both sides praying to God.
I don’t know which side God would support since both sides have
prayed to Him. But all I know is that a winner must emerge in this
encounter. The Military Bombers have promised to annihilate the
Civilian Scorpions while the later have vowed to send their opponents
to the cleaner’s. However, we must note that football is not
mathematics. It is a game of surprises and possibilities. Sometimes a
side can do all the good playing yet the other can, against the run of
play, do all the goal scoring. And we all do know that in football it is
goals that counts. Whether both sides can fulfil their promise remains
to be seen at the end of the match. It is only ninety minutes that
separates us from that reality. I should also inform you that if at the
end of the usual ninety minutes of play time and the added injury time
a winner didn’t emerge, they would have to go into thirty minutes of
extra time. It would be fifteen minutes per half. In the extra time
duration, the new FIFA rule of sudden death shall apply. That means
any side that scores first during the extra time automatically becomes
the winner. Nevertheless, if at the end of the extra time no side had
scored, then the winner would be decided through penalty shoot outs.
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that penalty shoot out is very
unpredictable. It is like tossing a coin. Victory can swing either way.
The time on my wrist watch says 7.30 p.m. The flood lights in the
Stadium provide a beautiful illumination. Ladies and gentlemen, the
Civilian Scorpions are getting set to take the kick-off. Yes, the referee
has sounded his whistle to signal the commencement of this great
war. Mr. June 12 passes the ball to his side’s number nine player – the
labour leader. The number nine man sends a long pass to the literary
guru. He has two defenders to beat. He beats the former Awoist and
was about to beat the strongman from Ibadan when the later
dispossesses him of the ball, sends a telegraphic pass to the rich
Muslim cleric who makes a beautiful run before he is brought down
by the young retired colonel for the Civilian Scorpions. But the
referee says play should continue. The colonel soldiers on with the
ball, then sends a quick pass, locating Mr. June 12 who in turn makes
a fast run, beating three players in a row before unleashing a powerful
grounder which nearly caught the opponent’s goal keeper napping.
I must say this match is living up to its expectation. I can see
excitement on the faces of numerous spectators.
The referee has signalled for a goal kick. The goal keeper for the
Military Bombers bounces the ball once, and then balloons the ball
into space. All heads are up in the centre half line. I can see that the
maverick politician has taken possession of the ball; he tries to job the
ball over the head of the Legal Luminary who charges at him
dangerously. The referee has awarded an infringement against the
Civilian Scorpions for that rough play.
The ball is positioned and quickly kicked out by Alhaji Weather but it
is intercepted by the strong defence of the Civilian Scorpions which
clears the ball out but the ball gets to the Dictator who stylishly chests
the ball down and makes a dazzling electrifying move that draws
great applause and excitement from spectators, before he dribbles
pass two defenders like a sharp knife cutting through human flesh,
then sends a powerful shot like a ballistic missile that hit the cross bar
of the Civilian Scorpions. The ball rebounds into the scorpions
eighteen yard box. In a frenetic move, the NADECO man clears the
ball away from his side’s danger zone. The ball gets to the former
vice president. He looks up, trying to sight his team mates. He finally
crosses the ball to the medical doctor who tries to dribble the YEAA
man but has been roughly tackled from behind. The referee sounds
his whistle for a free kick. The free kick is taken by Mr. June 12, who
sends a diagonal pass to the NADECO man. He moves fast,
meandering pass two defenders, then he unleashes a powerful shot at
the Military Bombers goal area. The goal keeper catches it without
much difficulty. I can see the goal keeper smiling and waving his
team mates to go forward. Then he bounces the ball once, twice and
positions it in the eighteen yard box. And he starts to toy with the
ball. The referee puts his hand into his pocket, brings out a yellow
card and flashed it at the goal-keeper for delaying the game.
The ball has been kicked out by the goal-keeper. The INC man
punctuates the ball, and heads for the centre half line with it, but has
been cut down by the millionaire from the East. A free kick has been
given. The labour leader takes it, sending the ball into the Military
Bombers eighteen metres box. There is a goal mouth scramble. Mr.
June 12 collects a fine horizontal pass from the medical doctor, and
he dribbles one defender and sends the ball across to the UAD man
who makes a fast run then passes the ball to Mr. June 12. Mr. June 12
beats one, beats the second, beats the third before he sends a
thunderous shot that rips through the defence, then beats the goal
keeper to register the first goal for his side.
There is tremendous applause. There is a tumultuous ovation.
The supporters of the Civilian Scorpions are in a frenzy mood. At
present, I can see the players of the Military Bombers protesting
vehemently that the goal was an offside goal but the referee insists
that it is a clean goal.
Then in an apparent fit of rage, the captain of his side the Dictator,
brings out a red card from his pocket and he issues it to the referee!
Oh, my God! This is the first time I’ve seen a player issuing a red
card to a referee and what am I seeing! The referee has obeyed the red
card and he is moving sluggishly out of the pitch.
I can see Mr. June 12 arguing that it had never happened any where in
football history for a player to give a red card to a referee. I can see
the Dictator getting very angry with Mr. June 12 for challenging his
decision. Yes, he is bringing out another red card! Whom is he going
to give it to this time? Wow! He gives it to Mr. June 12! This is
incredible! This is very wonderful! It is indeed preposterous!
Presently, Mr. June 12 is still protesting earnestly. Supporters of the
Military Bombers have started to troop into the field and they are
dragging Mr. June 12 away. The supporters of the Civilian Scorpions
have also entered the pitch.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a free for all fight going on between
the supporters of the opposing sides. There is confusion.
What am I seeing, dear Nigerians! I can see that the Dictator has
suddenly slumped down and blood is oozing out from his cardiac
region. It seems someone from the crowd has shot a gun at him.
Canisters of teargas have been released. Bullet shots have started
booming every where. It appears the Dictator has died. People are
running in all directions, for their safety. I think it is no longer safe
for me to continue with this commentary, so I must also run for
safety. By Jove! There has been an electric power cut by the National
Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and the flood lights have suddenly
gone to sleep. This is unbelievable! There is pandemonium and
palpable fear among the spectators…