Sunday 15 June 2014

World Cup 2014: I am supporting Holland

That Nigerian star of old
For as long as I can remember, probably the earliest was in 1985, the inaugural FIFA U-16 World Championship where out of nowhere Nigeria came tops to take the cup in China.
A very unlike prospect that came second in the group stages and then we took out Hungary, Guinea and West Germany to unexpectedly claim the championship.
This love for Nigerian soccer prowess was rewarded when the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta we took the gold beating Argentina to it – Karma, I say.
On the wane
When the World Cup came to France in 1998, I was going to avail myself of the opportunity and after beating Spain 3 – 2 in Nantes, I was on the coach to Parc des Princes in Paris to was the tension-filled Nigeria v Bulgaria game which we took 1 – 0, only to lose 3 – 1 to Paraguay in Toulouse.
I cannot say I once saw the ball in the stadium on the 19th of June 1998 but at the end of the match, I had no voice, I had shouted myself hoarse. Much as I would have loved to watch another game, it was an experience of a lifetime ruined by the Nigerian arrangers who for profit treated us too shabbily for words.
Our run in 1998 ended with a 4 – 1 trashing by Denmark in the Srade de France, I don’t think we’ve gotten too far since.
No hope in sight
By 2002, it was Korea/Japan, I was living in the Netherlands, but they were not in it, so I split my allegiances between Nigeria and England, Nigeria did not make it out of the group stage coming last, their best performance being a goalless draw with England. Argentina also came third in that group but England lost to Brazil in the Quarter finals.
The World Cup returned to Europe in 2006, Nigeria did not make to Germany and the Netherlands was out to Portugal in the round of 16 with England losing to Portugal in the Quarter finals that I was left with vacillating opinions in two blogs, both written whilst on holiday in France, the first lamenting our misfortune and the second celebrating the run of the French to the final.
All Orange, that’s my colour
I donned the Orange strip of the Netherlands when the World Cup came to Africa in 2010, on work days, it was an orange scarf and tie, whilst on other days I had the shirt and face baseball cap. After 10 years of living in the Netherlands and all I had experienced, there was no doubt where I had my football allegiances.
As we danced to Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), none of my thoughts were with Nigeria that came last in their group or England that expired in the round of 16.
I was in Gran Canaria, Spain for holidays when the Quarter finals started and on the 11th of July, 2010, I found a bar with Dutch supporters and we watched as the game descended in almost farce and in the process Spain won the World Cup.
Dejected and forlorn, I walked back to my hotel unable to acknowledge the celebratory noise of the Spaniards, it was a horrible feeling. But Hey!
Hup! Hup! Holland!
For Brazil 2014, Nigeria of parental descent, England of birth and the Netherlands of experiences are out there doing their stuff. I had already told my friends that the Netherlands would have my support because I believed they would get far and not dash my expectations as Nigeria and England are wont to do.
The Netherlands has already taken the “S” out of Spain with a 5 – 1 bruising defeat of Spain, even I did not expect that pummelling from Holland. England has suffered a defeat from Italy and Nigeria might yet perform against Iran, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Argentina but I am not holding my breath whilst I wish them luck.
For World Cup 2014 it is Hup! Hup! Holland, all the way. That is my team.

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