The European Championship, a semblance of the Africa Nations Cup was rounded off in Kiev, Ukraine last Sunday with Spain doing what no other team have ever done, defending the title and doing so in a grand style, beating their opponent, the Azzuri of Italy emphatically 4-0, the first in the competition's history.
Both sides had played out a 1-1 draw during the opening group game and when Italy, through the dexterity of their Ghanaian-born efante terribe, Mario Balotelli, demolished the German machine 2-0 in the semi final, pundits were tipping Italy to carry the day. All the bets failed.
While the Europeans were busy at their quadrennial competition, Africans who were switching from the even to odd number years in their competition were busy with the qualifiers. Nigeria's Super Eagles scaled the Rwanda hurdle with a 2-0 victory in Calabar June 16 after a barren draw in Kigali earlier in the year.
Seven times champions Egypt were shocked 3-2 at home in Alexandria by little known Central African Republic and their fans thought they could upturn the table after the return leg in Bangui but a 1-1 draw ensured the mighty Pharoahs would miss a second consecutive Nations Cup which holds in South Africa in January.
With the Super Eagles seeded along other countries like Cameroon, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire in Pot One, Nigerians prayed the team which Stephen Keshi is rebuilding with an avalanche of local league players should not been drawn against Senegal or Morocco who were leaders in the second pot.
Their fears were allayed Thursday night when the CAF Draws saw the Eagles pitched against the Lone Star of Liberia, a team who made impact in Africa only when the legendary George Opong Weah was their inspirational captain, as they chorused that the Eagles would be home and dry by the time the two-legged final qualifier is completed in October.
One Nigerian who was quick to alert Nigerians that the Liberians could be another banana peel like Guinea, is former Eagles defender, Garba Lawal who said on Brila FM radio that no team in Africa is a push over anymore as every team now knows how to play the game.
Lawal's warning should be heeded moreso when the Eagles kind of struggled against Namibia in a World Cup qualifier in Calabar before getting the all-important goal from Ikechukwu Uche who had earlier wasted a dozen chances.
One good thing about the Liberia match-up is that Keshi, who started his rebuilding process with mostly home-based players, had played the same team with his so-called rookies and beaten the homers right on their ground in Monrovia in a friendly. So the confidence would be there when they pay another visit in the first week of September with a stronger squad sprinkled with some experienced and reliable foreign-based players.
Like Lawal has warned, Liberia should not be underrated. They could be another banana peel in the waiting. Egypt may have underrated the Central Africans and have paid for it with a second consecutive ouster from the African party which they have so much dominated. That is a very useful lesson for Keshi and his wards as they prepare for Liberia.
At Last, Goal-line technology is here
After much foot-dragging, FIFA during the week got the go-ahead from the International Football Association Board, IFAB, to introduce the much talked about goal-line technology to reduce referees errors on goal-line balls. This is expected to take effect with the Club World in December Cup and Confederations Cup next year. The World Cup in Brazil in 2014 will also take its turn when it comes.
Other Confedrations could decide when they will start implementing the new rule with the various football leagues across the globe are expected to follow too. May be if the rule were in force during the Ghana-Nigeria 2000 Nations Cup, Victr Ikpeba's penalty could have counted and the Sunday Oliseh-led Eagles could have triumphed over a Patrick Mboma-inspired Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on home soil in Lagos.