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My 1990 world cup and the final disappointment.

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My first world cup was 1982. I was in Djibouti for a vocation at the time and, for the first in my life I watched a live football game from a television. In that year , some of best players in the world who left behind a great legacy in the history of the game were present. Diego Maradona of Argentina, Zico, falcao and socrates of Brazil; the Italian team was dominated players from Juventus who were half of the team . Among the noted Italians were Paolo Rossi, Bruno conti, cabrini and Gentile ( the guy who made so many fouls against Maradona). The French were led by Michel Platini and two black players Tigana and Trezor. The Germans were led by Rommeninge and Lothar matthaus. For the first time African teams performed well against the big teams like Germany and Italy.


The first and my only world cup game that I watched in the stands was the 1990 world cup in Italy. As I was sipping a caffe latte at the Rome's train station with some of my friends, a big bus with colors of Cameron parked outside the bus stands. A couple of guys from the Cameroonian embassy came and asked us if we were interested in watching the quarter final game between England and Cameroon and support the African team We said of course and boarded the bus all the way to Napoli were the game was played.


As soon as we reached the stadium, there were police and Italian Carabinieri every where. The infamous English soccer hooligans were roaming around the stadium. Because of their violent nature and drunken stupors, security was high. We proceeded to one of the gates where the Cameroonian officials were distributing passes to enter the stadium. As it turned out the number of passes and those in the bus were insufficient. people moved , pushed and shoved one another to get the tickets. After all is said and done, some how , we the Somalis, Eritreans and Ethiopians were the ones without tickets. It was the first time I witnessed the African racism . Those from the horn of Africa were left behind. Some of us fought with the Cameroonians and the police intervened. We explained our plight to the Italians , and how far we came all the way from Rome and ended up here at the gate without a ticket. THey told us to wait. After the game started , or about ten minutes in the first half, the good Italians let us in.


We entered San Paolo stadium and ended up seating beside those awful Africans. At that moment , my support for Cameroon evaporated, so I just became a neutral soccer fan watching a world cup match. Some of my friends even applauded for England.


The biggest memory of that game apart from the ticket issue was the last few minutes of the game. It was 84th minute and Cameroon was leading 2 to 1. Almost everybody was anticipating the history in the making of an African team reaching for the Semi final of the world cup for the first time. The opening game of the world cup 1990 was between Cameroon and defending champion Argentina, and the indomitable lions defeated Maradona. Not only were they beating teams, they were playing an entertaining open football, which eventually cost them. In that game they dominated until the end. they could have scored more than three or four.


When you are winning your biggest game of your life time , and few minutes are left to the finish, you must change your strategy. First you pull out a forward and bring in a defenceman, second you delay the game as much as possible, third make light smart fouls to frustrate the forwards and those who are attaching, without making huge costly fouls. Last but not the least, throw the ball to the stands. The Cameroonians gave up a penalty just six minutes before the end and after that lost all their concentration and calmness. Rather lick their wounds and wait for the end of regulation to regroup and win the game they deserved to win, they all went for attack like a desperate team trying to equalize for the final minute.


I could see the English forward Gary lineker at the middle half line separating the teams, beside the last man of the defence, the full back. everyone else went ahead to score goal and play on the English side of the pitch. When the ball was passed no one was close, so some body have to stop and the last guy to foul him was the goalkeeper.

They gave England the penalty and the game was over.


3 to 2, they lost the game and every thing crushed. when we entered the bus everyone was quite. Since we fought some of them before we entered the game , a Cameroonian Embassy lady , threatened to do something about us before our destination. They could have done serious damage to us, but since this was Italy not Cameroon, , so we reached Rome safely.


During my stay in Italy I took some coaching lessons although not licensed. so , when I watch games, I do not pay attention to the flashy forward or those scoring goals, but the midfield where games are lost or won. They will allow your defence to come forward and push, rather than overwhelmed by forwards.


Finally, to win the cup you need more than talented players or good goal scoring forwards. History, culture, attitude, and style of play are all factors that influence the victory. More than anything else, a united team or a team who play for the bigger goal, like Germans will always win. Dysfunctional teams, like a dysfunctional families my survive the first rounds, but will not win the big price. Countries, like Mexico, Nigeria, Egypt, or Russia will never win the cup. The United States has more chance than those to win. The Dutch and the French, who have shown constant quarrel among the couches and the players will not win the cup. Deschamp, the French couch, even left Samir Nasri of the Premier league champions Manchester City from the French national team.


In the final stage , it is all about controlling your emotions and punishing the other team on their mistakes. There will be always drama and unforeseen surprises, especially , on high pressure games. Remember, David Beckem getting red card or Zinedine Zidane, head butting Italian midfielder Mattrazzi at the final of 2006, world cup. Some said he called him " figlio di buttana", or something else, the bottom line was, that action by Zidane cost his team a very important player and the inability to kick the final penalties of the game. Also teams who are organized and follow the field tactic not the technical aspect of the game will go a long way.


African players of today are flashy with egos or they may not play 100%. They try to avoid injuries in order to play for their main club teams. They could be a cinderella story or a dark horse, but do not bet on them on the big price. Serious nation win the cup. For example, the Italian team is couched by sixty million Italians. Everyone expected them to win or reach the last four. Every move the couches make are scrutinized.


Ant way , this could be a big challenge between Ronaldo, the UEFA champion against Messi, the genies who have never won anything with Argentina national team.


This time it could be Argentina.


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