I racconti del Premio Energheia Africa Teller

Clash of the titans_Okutuate Benson Ayah

_Africa Teller 2000.dighe6


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

spotting dreadlocks.

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…