Jan. 21st, 2008

peterbirks: (Default)
I don't write about football much (as you may have observed). I haven't been to a match since 1972 (Chelsea vs Southampton, I believe), despite the fact that I rarely missed a home Chelsea game from 1966 to 1971 and in 1970 I think that I went to every FA Cup match (and my friend actually made it the following season to Greece for the European Cup Winners Cup Final -- a hell of a trek in those days). My first semi-final was Chelsea v Leeds in 1967, at Villa Park. Birmingham was a long way away in those days.

I just assumed that watching football was, well, something that you grew out of. Tribalism, vicarious pleasures, that kind of thing.

But I make an exception for the Africa Nations Cup. And this year, thanks to the wonders of digital broadcasting, it's possible to watch every game (provided, of course, that you don't have a job, or a life).

Nigeria tonight seemed to play as if they all had big bets on the Ivory Coast to win the game 1-0. I hate ascribing 'national' characteristics (except for humorous effect), but I did get the feeling that Nigeria played just like their population looks for riches. As little hard work as possible and hope for a moment of genius. Even when 1-0 down, their technique for getting the ball of the Ivory Coast seemed to consist of waiting for the latter's attack to break down. The concept of going out to win the ball seemed alien to them.

Most of the entertainment this evening, however, came at the start of the Benin-Mali game. Or, rather, non-start. The floodlights failed. Ahh, a great advertisement for the nation. The one time that much of the world is watching, with the teams out on the pitch, and out go the lights.

Much shrugging of shoulders and Di Caprio appearing with the line "This is Africa" (ok, I made that last bit up, but you see what I mean).

And it's great seeing players whose teams are the likes of Accrington Stanley and Lokomotiv Moscow, rather than the normal collection of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Marseilles, and so on.

Good fun.


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