By Rilwan Adetayo Balogun
Later today, the Super Eagles will file out against the Albiceleste of Argentina, with Messi as the lynchpin of those underperforming blue and whites. It is a historical point in the football history of both nations as they go broke and vie for an all important ticket in St. Petersburg, another city beautified by history and eternal features.
While Messi has continued to live in the shadows of Diego Maradona, working so hard but achieving very little, this game, more than any other may be significant to the resurgence of the Argentines, who hope to kickstart their own World Cup campaign, if the gods of Buenos Aires are not sleeping.
There are 7,911 kilometres between Lagos and Buenos Aires and from those are hundreds of millions of emotions, expectations and pressure. People, Argentines and Nigerians alike will stay glued to their television screens, wary of the hard suckerpunch that will ramshackle memories and in the same vein, chanting loud and clear in expectation of a swashbuckling display that will leave the history books forever open. But amidst all this, I believe Messi is lucky to be Argentine!
There are possibilities of boos and chants, insults and all manners of public show of displeasure that will be sent the Argentine’s way if he fails to lift his team above the Super Eagles! Hopefully, he will actualise his failure as the gods of Lagos Lagoon will open to sink his threats and drown his undeniable football masterstroke.
Messi is lucky, if he were a Nigerian, and he steps his feet on Lagos, kasala go burst! The Yorubas will say, “Gbegede ma gbiná”, there will be fireworks and brimstones directed straight at him.
Mikel Obi didn’t score an own goal, he didn’t concede a penalty, he didn’t miss a penalty, he just underperformed, which as a footballer, may be normal but Nigerians, with tens of millions of them in Lagos didn’t spare him. They roasted him alive! They showed their displeasures! That bitter discontentment! Insults were hurled, fans argued over what they all wanted, victory! E-motions (social media moods) were on sale and if you cared to buy, you are in soup! Perhaps it lifted them. The expectation is huge.
Bitter exchanges lived on tongues, Nigerians are a people in love with the game and they will never accept to be second best for any reason at all, especially when we have a player of Messi’s calibre! But we no get!
If Messi were to be Nigerian kperen, today would have been too enormous for him to underperform. Sani Kaita was given a bitter dose of how Nigerians can be very emotional about football when he picked up a rather stupid red card against Greece at the 2010 World Cup.
It was his last appearance and the last that will be seen of him in the green and white! Every wrong step on the pitch, in Lagos, and every part of Nigeria is greeted with insults and “yabbing” as we call it locally, and especially when a player of Messi is involved, there’s a problem!
Messi seems to have forgotten his beast mode in Catalonia and he will not find it in Russia, not today, not against the Super Eagles! And their galaxy of stars will not hit a Nova against us, we shall soar! But again, Messi is lucky not to be a Nigerian.
Buenos Aires will perfectly house his struggles, Lagos might have been worse!