It was the 73rd minute of the 90 and
my mind was in a state of confusion. I mean, how is my team losing by a
goal to nothing? Haven been tipped to be the champion of the community football
competition even before the knockout stages commenced and here we are at the
final match of the competition and we're yet to find a goal in the game.
What’s wrong with us but we are playing well? Or aren’t we?
Wait! It has just dawned on me that we are missing something.
Gosh, what could it be? I searched my mind and racked my
head for answers, the referee would soon blow the whistle for the game to resume has the injured player for whom the break in play actualized has been
treated and confirmed fit to progress in action.
“Help us Lord” I prayed silently and right there I overheard two men
conversing clearly from the spectator’s stand at the resume of play.
Man 1: Rangers have really disappointed me today.
Man 2: I told you, didn’t I? I sensed that they would become overconfident after that elaborate celebration after their semi-final win.
Man 1: They have all lost focused.
Man 2: They're no longer playing like a team that they were
when the competition began, they're all playing individually because they want
to be known as the star player of the final which is not the right way.
Gosh, the second man’s words were bitter but true. We have lost our team organization indeed. Okon hasn't given out his usual killer passes that we know him for and also Henry even I myself,
have being sluggish all through, I can’t run as fast as I used to. Till now, I thought
may be the opposition players were the ones faster than I was. But anyways, its
time all this stop. I need to get the team back together, it may be late but we
have to try.
“Juwon! Juwon!!” I heard my coach screaming my
voice the pitch. I turned towards him and saw him give me hand sign
which I knew meant “Please play as a team” I knew this because that was his
motto even when we trained.
Another break in play because an opponent dived in our 18
yard box to claim a penalty not knowing the referee was well positioned to see
clearly what transpired and he unbiasedly flashed him a yellow card.
Although Daniel one of our defender claimed that the player was already on a
yellow card and argued that he should be sent off the pitch as that should be
his second yellow card of the game. We knew he had mistaken the player for
another and quickly told him the truth but he was too headstrong and bent on
the referee to give him a red. When suddenly he pulled back the referee who
wanted to walk out in front of him and that pushed the referee to also giving
him a yellow card.
We quickly surrounded him telling him to leave the
referee alone as he did the right thing. Only God knows what came over him at
that moment but I quickly utilized the moment in talking to every one of them
to please for the remaining 10 minutes left to play. “Let’s all focus on the
game and play like we have to qualify for the next round, play for what we
That was all I said and those few words seems to be magical as
the game changed in our favor. Kola and James passed the ball amongst
themselves and the Ahmed our goal keeper, placing the opposition lone striker as
a middleman, while his teammates were arriving, James confidently passed the
ball to Okon who beautifully skipped past the opposition winger, I smiled
because I knew I was next in line to receive a pass, I quickly looked ahead to
find out Ken and Taye, our two strikers were open when I suddenly spotted
Daniel at the right wing with enough free space to capitalize on. A quick flip
of the ball was what was needed which I did successfully. Anxiety grew high as
Daniel received the ball and raced towards the opponent’s 18 yard box with the
ball. Taye and Ken positioned themselves to receive the ball, a cross was
expected and Daniel did, the ball spun into the box, went swiftly towards the
middle, almost arriving at the feet of Ken when a defender suddenly intercepted
the connection and kicked the ball out of play for a corner kick.
“Dam it!” I cursed silently.
James, Daniel, Kola and Okon moved forward into the box, I
don’t normally go for corner kicks because I am short, so I hang around the 18
yard box and wait for loose balls.
“Juwon shoot” I heard Okon scream as an opponent headed the
ball away from target but towards me. I quickly comported myself, balancing
well to make sure I utilize this opportunity. WHAMP!! I kicked the ball
powerfully and watched the ball fly directly towards the target only to be accurately
followed by goalie who gave the ball a hard punch to fly above the goal post.
“God Dammit” I cursed
5 minutes is all we have left after the second corner kick
was retaken but this time Taye had kicked the ball higher than the target. We all
retreated back and waited for the goalie to play the ball back into action when
an opponent poked his face from behind me and said “Won’t you wake up”
“Wake up? How?” I said confused
I turned around to get another look at who just spoke only
to feel my head on a soft layer and find myself on my comfy bed. It was all a