23rd November, 2022
By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Nobody should expect to see me near Qatar in this period of the FIFA World Cup lasting from November 20 to December 18.
Its totally against my constitution to be a part of a so-called World Cup in which beer is not served.
Beer and the beautiful game happen to be Siamese twins joined at the tongue of tippling.
Some grapevine sources have put out the bad news that beer can only be sold for as much as $154 per bottle!
One of my strategic sources has just revealed to me that beer drinkers all over the world have united to put a curse on Qatar such that its team created the unwanted record of being the first host team to lose an opening match in the history of the FIFA World Cup.
Unfancied Ecuador trounced hapless Qatar 2-0, and our very own Jay-Jay Okocha came out with the excuse that the home team may have been affected by the stadium air-conditioning!
Its so saddening that a country will spend all of $220 billion to build state-of-the-art facilities, including air-conditioned stadiums, when its team preferred to play under the raw heat of the sun.
Controversy had spelt the name of Qatar ever since it was awarded the hosting rights by FIFA back in 2010.
The then FIFA President Sepp Blatter who presided over the choosing of Qatar as hosts has just come out to state that the choice of Qatar was a mistake.
The first World Cup being hosted in a Muslim country in the Middle East has met with so much criticism, especially from the Europeans.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino could not but fire back at his fellow Europeans thusly: I think that for what we Europeans have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.
There have been many issues such as homophobia and the like, but FIFA has advised the players and all lovers of the beautiful game to focus only on football.
I am not here to dish out any Breaking News that Nigeria is not among the 32 countries that qualified to contest for 2022 World Cup.
So, lets make progress on the serious nations locking horns to cart home the coveted cup.
This happens to be the first and only winter World Cup, and the uppity European leagues had to be suspended mid-season.
It is also the shortest World Cup since Argentina 1978, lasting only 29 days.
Qatar can only boast of a population of over two million people but there is the fear there may be an influx of people almost the size of the country’s population.
Nigerias colonial masters, England, will never tire of telling the world of bringing the cup home every four years of the World Cup, but success only came the way of the Three Lions back in 1966 when the tournament was staged on home soil at Wembley.
The prayer of a good number of Nigerian soccer fans, especially Arsenal FC of London supporters, is that the English player named Bukayo Saka can finally shoot England to victory.
Argentina is odds-on favourite to lift the trophy on many bookies papers, particularly as a crowning glory to the countrys pearl, Lionel Messi, in this season that the team is on a 36-game unbeaten run.
But then Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo who would not let Messi sleep with two eyes closed on the bed of soccer rivalry, and the Portuguese hope to grab the cup for the very first time in the bid to trump the exploits of their erstwhile hero, Eusebio, back in 1966.
Brazil that has not won the World Cup since 2002, having won it a record five times previously and being the last non-European team to win it, should come in for mention amongst the teams likely to lift the trophy.
There is the tough talk of France retaining the cup but then injuries had given the team a bad turn by putting away Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante.
Senegal could have shocked the world but for the downer that the ace in the team, Sadio Mane, has been done a bad turn by injury.
The hottest two strikers in the world today playing in the English Premiership, Erling Haaland of Manchester City and Mohamed Salah of Liverpool, unfortunately could not qualify their countries for the Mundial.
A tear for them!
Until the final whistle is blown on the final day, nobody can say with any measure of certitude the nation to steal the show.
By talking about stealing the cup, let me refer back to the 1982 World Cup in Spain in which Italy did not win any of its group matches but ended up knocking out the best Brazil team since the 1970 Giants of Brazil that included Pele, Tostao, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Carlos Alberto etc.
The 1982 Brazil team made up of Socrates, Zico, Falcao, Cerezo, Eder, Junior etc. did all the playing while the Italian striker, Paolo Rossi, who had scored no goal at all in the previous matches of the tournament, had three touches of the ball and scored a hat-trick that knocked out mighty Brazil, before the Italians went on to beat Germany 3-1 in the final to lift the trophy.
That match between Italy and Brazil has since been dubbed the day football died.
Football can equally die in Qatar – in the World Cup without beer.
*Uzor Maxim Uzoatu is a journalist, poet and public affairs analyst