Sherifdeen Olamilekan writes,

Shehu Mubarak’s eyes were glued to the big, blurry television at a wooden, ragged viewing centre near the rear of the famous Kwankwasiyya hostel, UDUS main campus. This was on November 24, when Ghana faced Portugal in the respective teams’ opening match at the famed World Cup tournament ongoing in Qatar.

Mubarak’s heart palpitated, and his legs and head were severely unstable as they responded sensitively to every turn and touch the players made. He hoped that none of them would lead to an equalizer to the just-netted Cristiano Ronaldo penalty that gave Portugal a 1-nil lead.

In terms of prestige, beauty, vulnerability and even criticism, which has not been so regular in the history of the World Cup, no edition has been as special as Qatar 2022. An African team taking its glory and the trophy home could have given it a dome of rarity but this was not even a dream for Mubarak.

When Mubarak was asked why, unlike most of the views, he was not rooting and cheering for Ghana, his response was vivid and precise.

“Nothing would make me compromise my love for C Ronaldo. So, his team, Portugal, should win this World Cup. Nothing more, nothing less”, he replied.

Abdulrahman, Imam, Other Europeans amidst Africans

Fast forward to seven minutes after Ronaldo’s penalty, Ghana skipper, Andre Ayew, kicked in a square-play cross into Portugal’s net, securing an equalizer for the Black Stars. However, just like Mubarak, Ghana’s goal didn’t sit right with two other Danfodites—who were pronounced Europeans—Imam and Abdulrahman.

After the match, it was all joy for the ‘Europeans’ as Portugal eventually won with a 3:2 score. When Imam and Abdulrahman were called out for supporting Portugal, they fought back, saying they are fans of the English club Manchester United and that, meanwhile, they have to support their players in the Portuguese team even at the expense of their African brothers.

“We’ve got Diogo Dalot, Bruno Fernandes and the biggest of all, Cristiano, who are Manchester United players in the Portugal squad. So, we can’t be supporting Ghana that neither has Man-U players nor the football GOAT, Cristiano”, they responded in sheer happiness.

We’re Still under Colonialism

To Giwa Muhammad, a 200-level student at the English and Literary Studies department, Africans are still under mental slavery and colonialism. He expressed his worry amid the match over the supposed ‘Europeans’ rooting for Portugal, a European team, over Ghana, an African team with whom they share ancestry.

“Let’s not deceive ourselves. We’re still under colonialism mentally, because it doesn’t make any sense to me to support the whites over blacks. I can tell you that I’m also a big fan of Man-U and their players but I see those not supporting Ghana as that they’re out of their mind”, Giwa bared his dissatisfaction.

We Africans Lack Patriotism – Political Analyst

On his part, Abudulrasheed Muhammed, a Political scientist and African football enthusiast, opined that Africans going against themselves is a lack of patriotism, noting, however, that it’s an issue that originated from African leaders. To Mr. Muhammed, lack of funding for proper and necessary infrastructure required to contain top football is what has led to depressing level of zeal with which African players approach the game.

“People in Africa, like others too, watch football for the beauty of it and they tend to support the team that plays it best at a duel. Africans can’t play football like the Europeans. The Europeans give football their all and treasure it as if their life depends on it. That is why you’ll see people here supporting them because nobody wants to support failure”, he explained.

“It’s in Africa that you’ll find stones on the pitch, it’s here that coaches are being owed salaries, and players, allowances. It’s also here that you’ll see a professional football team with no medical crew, so how can you expect our players to play at their best? But nonetheless, should Africans still have one bit of patriotism in them, that would be enough to cheer for their countries in a global tournament.”

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