By Ori Martins
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News Hour.com.ng – You can only take the Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire’s juju scare for granted at your risk. It exits. It works. And it is scary.
Is there juju in football? Yes. Does it work? Yes but it doesn’t not go far. Ask coach Adegboye Onigbinde., confirm from Taribo West and Emeka Ezeugo about juju influence in soccer.
In Tunisia ’94, Alain Gouamene, the veteran Elephants goalkeeper, who in Senegal ’92 emerged the first goal tender not to conceed any goal in the regulation time in the history of the African Nations Cup, revealed how Cote D’Ivoire employed juju to destablize Rashidi Yekini.
After Tunisia ’94, Gouamene informed a Nigerian journalist who interviewed him to tell Yekini about Elephants’ juju administration on him and urged the then gangling striker to try unfailingly to cleanse himself for future consequences since the concoction never produced the desired results during the tournament. May Cote D’Ivoire not afflict Victor Osimhen with any juju on the final day.
Sports encyclopedia, Emeka Obasi has written about this episode at least twice.
In Senegal ’92 where the Elephants struck first Nations Cup gold, their juju spear hit Ghana’s Adedi Pele most dangerously as he got a second yellow card that ruled him out of the final encounter and Cote D’Ivoire lifted the trophy after a breathtaking penalty shootout that ended 11 – 10.
In 2015, the Elephants again defeated Ghana in the final, again via penalty shootout. The Elephants juju never allowed the Black Stars any space to operate.
In all of their juju applications, Cote D’Ivoire could only boast of two Nations Cup glories and two silver medals. It shows clearly that though there is juju in football, it does not guarantee grand successes especially if the opposing team get its tactics well. Yet, Nigeria must counter Cote D’Ivoire’s juju inclination with superb displays.
It sound funny but it is real. This looks strange yet it is a reality. And it is never an ethnic caricature. It is rather a hypothesis that was got based on reassrach documentation.
Each time Nigeria plays any of the countries that supported Biafra during the civil war in the group stage, the Super Eagles usually soars to glory.
In 1980, it was Tanzania and Nigeria won 3 – 1 and went ahead to lift the Nations Cup after overpowering Algeria 3- 0. Tanzania recognized Ojukwu’s Biafra.
There was something special about the 1980 Eagles victory. Fantastic and Mystic Muda Lawal opened scoring in the tournament as he got the first goal against Tanzania and also got the last goal of the fiesta as he vollyed – in the last goal against Algeria on the final day.
Recall that the goal against Tanzania was Muda’s only strike where other teammates scored after he had registered first. In all his other goals, once he scored, the door was closed for his other colleagues. It was mysterious!
The other time the Super Eagles lifted the Nations Cup in 1994, Nigeria played and battered Gabon 3 – 0, with Yekini scoring twice while Mutiu Adepoju got the other goal.
And here, you have Cote D’Ivoire again even as Nigeria hammered the host 1 – 0 in a group match.
It is imperative to state that in all the group games involving all these countries that supported Biafra, Nigeria smiled home victoriously. It also happened exactly that way – Eagles beat Elephants, 1- 0.
Then, to confirm the audacity of Biafra spirit in African Nations Cup, the 2012 edition was staged in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. These two nations had diplomatic sympathy and support for Biafra.
Thus, on the final day, the Biafran spirit, obviously guided by the Iconic Ojukwu, propelled two countries that desired for the independence of Biafra very urgently: Zambia and Cote D’Ivoire to the final. Since the former had lifted it once in Senegal ’92, the Biafran spirit worked in favour of the former.
Therefore, the 2012 Nations Cup was a Biafran championship as the cohosts – Equatorial Guinea and Gabon – were Biafra allies during the war., the finalists: Zambia and Cote D’Ivoire provided diplomatic as well as logistics support for the young republic whereupon the former became African champions for the first and only time. 2012 was the year Ojukwu was buried as a Nigerian hero!
MYSTERY OF DEFENDER CAPTAINS
Informed sports journalists have also indicated that Super Eagles usually become winners anytime a defender is the captain in a Nations Cup year. For instance, in 1980, Nigeria was victorious and the captain, Christian Chukwu, was a defender.
Again in 1994, Nigeria ruled Acrica for the second time with Stephen Keshi, a defender, being the captain. The same scenario repeated itself in 2013 when Joseph Yobo, a defender, was the captain and Eagles sang victory choruses.
This tine, though the registered captain is Ahmed Musa, the field captain is William Ekong, a defender. Meaning, Nigeria is most likely to win.
There is no Emmanuel. This concept was put forward by Obasi. He said in the last three editions where Nigeria triumphed, there was an Emmanuel in each of the teams. Emmanuel Okala in 1980, Emmanuel Amuneke in 1994 and Emmanuel Emenike in 2013. There is no Emmanuel in this team. Yet, in any law there is always the rule of exception. And that is what will eventually apply here.