Last resort. Last option. The most unwanted. Generally undesirable, but it may be sweeping the tides in favour of who has the better grace, or grease in their boots.
Nigeria will face Ghana on Tuesday, and it feels as though the nation has never played a game of this magnitude. So many things are at stake. Finances, ambitions, careers, projections, expectations. To leave anything to chance will be recipe for implosion. To pretend as though it’s impossible is fanning the embers of devastation – a word far from what Nigerians want to hear on Tuesday.
The Super Eagles’ goalless draw against Ghana in Kumasi throws up many possibilities and it doesn’t exclude going to the spot.
Players of the Super Eagles were seen training for penalties, an indication that they’ve also measured such possibilities. It’s an unwanted accomplice and it’s not beyond the spectre of disappointment.
Hearts will pump. Fists may bump, and the thumping shots that will fly will either cheer fans or send them into an abyss of utter dejection. What the Super Eagles should not risk is to leave anything outside the possible equations.
Opportunities must be taken. Opportunism must be attempted and every possible situations must be analysed, solved and sorted before the blast of the whistle and on the pitch.
The Super Eagles were last involved in a penalty shootout at the 2010 AFCON where they defeated Zambia at the quarterfinals. That’s more than a decade ago, and the new times are unknown.
Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja holds lots of memories, mostly pleasant ones and fans hope the ghosts of the other sordid tales are not exhumed.
Penalties are no team’s forte. It’s considered a wide and wild possibility, typically given the least attention, but the result and celebrations are just as intense.
The Super Eagles line up against Ghana in Abuja with every eventuality in mind. It could be a beautiful day, or a bumpy day on a smooth pitch. Whichever way it is, however it comes, Nigeria must earn one of Africa’s golden tickets to Qatar, as desired by millions.
Photo Credit: Naija Footballers