I’m very superstitious; especially with soccer. Let me take you through a few of them. At my father’s house in Abuja, I only watch football games of teams I support, sitting on the center table. If there’s a visitor in the house and I then have to seat properly on a seat, I either go out and see the game or go into the bedroom and not bother to watch. It was not always the case though. I used to seat on the couch to the right of the television until that Super Eagles game in Kano where we played out a draw and eventually missed out on the World cup in Germany, 2006. I believe that couch had been ruined with that bad luck and had to switch after then.
In Lagos, I only watch football games in my bedroom. If for some reason, my subscription has run out or the TV is bad, the sitting room is hardly an option. I’ll most likely head out to go watch the game. My room has been very kind to me. I have lost a few games there no doubt. One of the most heartbreaking games there was Manchester United’s final game last season where that last minute goal made the team lose the title on goals difference. But I overlooked it because the wins far outweigh the draws and loses. Thus, I still have faith in my bedroom.
When I see a game outside my house, I never wear the jersey of the team I’m supporting. In the last four years, every time I’ve seen a game while wearing my favorite team’s jersey whether Nigerian or European, the team hasn’t done well. I wore my Super Eagles jersey to a public viewing park in DC when Sani Kaita broke Nigerian hearts in South Africa in 2010. I also wore a Manchester United jersey to see that game when Torres and Liverpool turned Nemanja Vidic and Manchester United inside out and used them as butter on top bread.
When I see games outside my house, I also tend to wear flip-flops. I always feel like shoes bring me bad luck. This bit is usually tough to control though especially with those mid week Champions League games where I might be out on a working day and be unable to take the shoes off to get to a bar. But when Manchester United beat Chelsea to win the Champions League trophy in 2008, I left the house prepared. When I was done for the day, I went into my car, took off my shoes and put on my flip-flops. It turned out to be a good idea after all.
As the Super Eagles game against Burkina Faso approached last week, I was a little worried. The satellite connection to the TV in my bedroom had been faulty for a while. I kept procrastinating its repair. Then all of a sudden, the AFCON 2013 Nations Cup had commenced. I started watching a few games and supported Cape Verde against South Africa, supported the DRC against Ghana and rooted for Ethiopia against Zambia. Now, none of the teams I supported had won their games. That should have been a sign. But I got carried away with the fact that they had all picked up very commendable draws against their better-favored opponents. Maybe the sitting room was my new good luck charm.
When the Nigeria vs Burkina Faso game started, I thought about my bedroom for a split second but shrugged it off. And as if to solidify my new found sitting room power, Emmanuel Emenike scored the goal of a crazy hustling striker. I was overjoyed. I kissed the sofa and started to think that maybe I’d never watch a game in my bedroom ever again. I was loving the good streak that the sitting room had brought me so far.
With 2 minutes left of injury time to play, I stood up and went to the door. My mission was complete I thought; and I just needed to see out the dying seconds. Then that equalizer happened. I was rooted to the floor for a few seconds. I wasn’t sure what had happened. Denial became anger, which became irritation and eventual heartbreak. We had actually blown 2 out of our 3 points just like that, in what may eventually turn out to be very crucial. Many abused the captain. Others abused the coach. Some others abused the strikers who gave away the ball instead of playing to kill time.
But I had a different worry. Had the sitting room quickly lost its good luck streak for me? Should I have gone out to see the game? Did I screw up by standing up? Would we have won the game if I still sat on the sofa that I had kissed earlier instead of standing, which was when we conceded? Do I need to seek mental help?
Hahaha! I’m sure many of you will answer ‘yes’ to my last question. Now, drop your superstitions (soccer or not) if you have any…