Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Men, women and football - three mutually exclusive institutions. A sudden bust up out of the blues that I recently had with a platonic female friend over a game of football reaffirmed my long held belief in this school of thought.

Picture this: it’s an easy Tuesday evening, Match Day 3 of the just concluded African Cup of Nations. The Pharaohs of Egypt are up against Nigeria’s Super Eagles in one of the most titillating Group matches - a must watch encounter. Just as am getting all comfy and cozy on my armchair, my cellphone suddenly alerts me of an in coming text. Its Fay, my across the street neighbourhood lady friend. “Am home, kam join me 4 coffee”, her sms is curt and concise.

Ordinarily, on any given day this is an opportunity I would gladly jump at, but today there is a little problem. Kick off time is just moments away and I don’t wanna miss any bit of the action. What to do now? Simple! Just do what your average halfwit man does when faced with this kind of a dilemma. Contrive a blatant lie as a quick escape avenue! “Sori Fay, got a visitor @ my place, kant kam” I quickly dispatch my reply. Easy, right? Wrong!

Now, Fay is one overbearing lady whose idea of nurturing a friendship is a misplaced sense of overt patronage. Simply put, she relishes playing mother-hen. Within 10 flat minutes there is a knock on my door. Busted! Its Fay. My hunch is that she must have correctly figured out that my unusually turn down of her benevolent overture was a clear indication of some possible mischief that I was up to. So there she was to corroborate her suspicion and possibly, if need be, reprimand me for my uncouth conduct.

To say that Fay was not amused by my flopped double bluff and that what followed was an unsavory verbal exchange would be an understatement. In the heat of the moment, she stormed out in protest, but not without a final stinging parting shot: “Have fun entertaining your football of a visitor!” I was dumbfounded. And she is not even my girlfriend! I pity all those married men who still pretend to love football. No sane woman willingly accepts a ‘co-wife’. Sorry folks, there is no middle road here.

If you think that spat with my otherwise convivial and benign friend Fay was the end of my football related misery you are dead wrong. It so happened that the daily double-header matches in Angola were slotted at 7pm and 9:30pm local time. Now this is prime time on local TV channels. Soon enough, my homely neighbour’s kids would come trooping with one agenda in mind, “Storm Over Paradise” (That annoying Mexican soap in which the cast spends 99% of their time shouting and hurling lewd profanity at each other). In my opinion, “Storm in a Tea Cup” would be more apt for a title. Needless to say, that spelt out a long cold silence war over the control of the remote with the minors over the entire duration of the Nations Cup coverage.

And to throw a little spanner to the works, Man U vs Arsenal’s EPL match coincided with the Nations Cup final match. I have no allegiance to neither (in fact I despise both in equal measure) so I didn’t waste any time on the Devils- Gunners mumbo jumbo. As expected, Man U mercilessly spanked the Emirates wannabes for good measure. But what caught my attention post match, was Sir Alex Fergusson war-like mentality. Listen to what he said concerning the impending London derby featuring Arsenal and Chelsea: “Arsenal are still not out of it. I hope they can go to Stamford Bridge and come out with something.” It all reminded me of the proverbial mouse that nibbles away at the fingers of a sleeping kid who fail to wash hands after dinner, while at the same time blowing on the wounds to pacify the clueless child. The war has just began and nobody does it better than Sir Alex Fergusson when it comes to playing that invaluable psychological card.

But have you ever wondered why when it comes to matters football in the corridors of power no one meddles and spins a better yarn than PM Agwambo? Moments after Mariga’s bid to join mega rich Man City flopped, the Right Honourable was at it again trying to pacify the masses. Whether his claim that he managed to seek audience with his British counterpart Gordon Brown on this saga within hours to the closure of the transfer window was purely for PR is a story for another day. I can’t help wondering though if this guy really has a job description other than running petty errands for the docile Emilio.


“Form is temporary, class is permanent.”
(Old school football saying)

Behold! It’s a visitation of the ancient pre-medieval times; the ageless fortified tombs have sprung open… the mummies have awoken from their age long slumber and are roaming freely across Africa’s great lands. From the Sahel, to the Sahara down to the Namib, the great trek of this prehistoric caravan can only be halted at the Cape…

History can never be rewritten, it only repeats itself. The Pharaoh dynasty is here with us! The buildup and movement that led up to that 85th minute gem of a goal by Gedo had me up on my feet applauding. Without a doubt my candid position on this has seen my popular ratings plummeting, but surely did anyone in his rightful mind imagine that the great ‘Pharaohs’ of Egypt would fall to the hugely depleted ‘Black Stars’? You wish!

This was vintage Egypt at the prime of its powers; the passing was fluid, player awareness top notch and the ruthless finishing blows were always delivered with clinical and methodical precision. Now that’s football at its very best. Can’t lie about this, when I saw the Egyptians clip the wings of the flightless ‘Super-Egos’ broders (sic) from Oga-land in their first match I knew it would take almost an impossibility to stop the flow of the great Nile. And this I secretly confided to one Redondo (a co-founder). For this am seriously considering becoming a professional bookmaker – if only to emancipate myself from the measly career of freelance writing.

All was and done (and a lot had been said by the naysayers), and thankfully so, it was a total blackout for the Black Stars who were reduced to a dim distant flicker by the all conquering Pharaohs. It’s verbose to state here that the quality of Hassan Shehata’s team was way above the rest of the competition. Like most neutral pundits, I happen to be a proponent of beautiful football, and it was only fair that the best overall team won the tournament.

However in all honesty, I must admit I loved Egypt’s temerity in delivering a real slap on the face of all the World Cup bound African teams. Am no moral high priest but I detest the manner in which all our perverted prejudices and bias predictably swing in favour of our ‘Black’ skinned brothers whenever they come against North African teams. The last time I checked, Africa was still one solid mass of a continent. Am told a more politically correct term for this is ‘racial profiling’. What meaningless and inane jargon!

Nonetheless, an otherwise successful tournament was only blotted on three accounts; the tragic attack on the Togolese team bus by a rebel group calling its self FLEC (or something), CAF’s ill advised move to consequently ban Togo from the next two editions of the tournament and of course the glaring refereeing howlers that saw a genuine ‘goal’ disallowed and a dubious one allowed at very crucial stages of the tournament. One Ahmed Hassan, Egypt’s captain and most capped player (an incredible 172 appearances for the Pharaohs) even attempted a Thierry Henry in the final match with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in attendance.

This brings me to something else altogether. When it emerged earlier in the week that MacDonald Mariga’s presumed move Man City had fallen through I read a very idiotic remark on the papers by one Raphael Wanjala in connection to the whole saga. Verbatim: “…. as leaders from Western province we are saddened by the behavior of UK… we are asking them to rescind the decision, failure to which our Ministry of Immigration should deny Britons work permits…” So now Mariga’s raising fortunes is the sole preserve of Western Kenyan leaders, huh? How cheap?

And this from some disillusioned run-of-the-mill former MP who only a few months ago was languishing in police cell in far away India after eloping with another man’s wife. Has this fellow ever been spotted anywhere close to the precincts of our national stadia before? But of course, now we know that the mercurial Mariga hails from Mheshimiwa Wanjala’s flood proned Budalangi constituency… just my wild guess.

But it all this gives a sense of déjà vu. Remember the chants of “Oliech… Odanga… Obama!!” that rung out around Nyayo Stadium one glorious Saturday afternoon some time last year when the Auxerre hit man orchestrated a sweet 2-0 victory over the Banjani-led Zims? It’s so Kenyan-like to associate ourselves with one of our own. A fallacy duly propagated by Alfred Mutua’s Twajivunia kuwa Wakenya spirit au sio?

Finally, a bone pick with the he overpriced and enslaving English Premier League. Incidentally while Egypt was slugging it out with Ghana, ‘another’ big fixture inevitably stole the thunder from the great spectacle at Luanda’s magnificent 11th November Stadium. Yes, you guessed right. Two of the so called ‘usual suspects’ (of what crime?) successfully managed to divert the local armchair fan base’s attention.

At a house party somewhere in Nairobi last Saturday I was astounded when this topic was broached within the small circle of men in attendance. When an unofficial poll was done as to which match between Egypt vs Ghana and Man U vs Arsenal was worth watching, an overwhelming 5 out of 6 voted in favour of Man U-Arsenal (of course the only exception being yours truly De’ Stefano). My rationale? Ukoloni mambo leo! Period. (Oh, and am actually considering penning my future articles here in our very own Kiswahili language)

Postscript: Just for the records, I stuck through the attire 90+ minutes of the game in Luanda. Folks, welcome back to shabik!