Yeah. It’s the hope that kills. You know the thought that creeps into your mind, telling you that you can go far. Let’s say failure eventually sets in, it’s not the pain of the defeat that dampens you, but it’s the hope that got shattered that kills you.
The picture above was captured after a hard-earned win against a solid Classic and Religious studies team during the last game of the group stage. An early goal from the opponent almost ensured our defeat, but two beautiful goals from Yusuf and Razaq were enough to overturn that single goal deficit. I took a long look at the supporters after the match, and I saw that they believed that we would go far in the tournament. Alas, it ended in despair for everyone in the next match. For you to understand the genesis of the whole travails, we have to take a trip down memory lane.
CBN cup left a pill that was difficult to swallow. The team’s sojourn in football started in 100 level with the commencement of the CBN Cup -a competition meant for students taking their 100 level Course at the CBN lecture theatre. The first match ended as a defeat of two goals to nil to Civil Engineering. We won by a lone goal in the second leg, and that was enough to take us on to the next round as the best loser. After much huff and puff, we struggled to enter the semis at which we eventually lost on penalties to Petroleum Engineering (yet another technology department). The team eventually won the bronze medal after defeating Agric economics in the third-place match. We licked our wounds, and the whole team made a strong resolve to win the next competition in which we would participate.
Our second year started with a bang. The MBBS team won most of our friendly matches, and we thought the sky was the starting point this year. The 200 LEVEL SURVIVAL TOURNAMENT was the tournament meant for all 200 level students. The team decided to combine with our sister department -BDS- and training began in earnest. Things were looking bright as we defeated Chemistry and Pharmacy in our friendly matches. The morale was so high that you could smell it in the air.
The draws were made, and we did not have it easy. Economics and Classic and Religious studies were the departments we were grouped with, and I knew then that we have our work cut out for us. We were focused, and the team resolved not to make any errors that would cost us like those in the CBN competition. Announcing the players that would make the tournament was hard because some other talented players had to be dropped from the team -an error that later cost us during the tournament.
Our first match was at the SUB field, and we were playing against Economics. Coach Jude Afabor announced his line-up, and the warm-up started in earnest. Quayyum Afolabi opened the goalscoring portal by scoring a rebound after a corner-kick. Other goals came in quick succession as we wrapped up the match in the first half of the game. Moshood Fuhad scored the second goal of the game, and the fans erupted in jubilation. After Quayyum scored the third goal from an assist by BDS Alonge Razak, the pressure wasn’t on the players anymore. The second half was a bit tough as the Economics coach made a couple of changes that almost influenced the game. However, gallant performances from BDS Amaechi Patrick and Akin Adebayo ensured that the 3 points were in the bag. The opponents scored a goal that was later ruled out to the delight of the fans and supporters that came to support us.
We weren’t prepared for all that happened in the second qualifying game of the group. Only a team would qualify from a group of 3 teams, and we were tied with Classics and Religious studies as they also whipped Economics 3 goal to nil. The Classics side was led by Ibrahim Sellica, a player of great repute as we later got to know as the match progressed. We were shocked by an early goal in the opening minutes of the match as Sellica powered in a free-kick to the dismay of both players and supporters alike. Emotions were running high as the team tried their best to equalise -an effort that was crowned with success as Jimoh Yusuf notched in a screamer outside the 18-yard box. The fans erupted with jubilation as the goal later proved to be the turning point of the game. The first half ended with a 1-1 scoreline. Jude tried his best to inspire the players during the break, an effort which was successful as Alonge Razak latched unto a perfect cross by Akinlabi Habeeb. The opposing team goalkeeper had no chance as he netted a pinpoint header. Pandemonium broke loose!!! The comeback was complete as the supporters trooped to the pitch to celebrate the second goal which later led us to receive a yellow card. Folusho saved a penalty during the dying minutes of the game, and that effort was enough to guarantee us victory.
The trophy was in our sights; we had entered the Quarter Finals. The squad and classmates were elated. Our departments are renowned for our intelligence, and we are also proving our mettle in the field of play. Jokes were made, bragging rights were served as we believed we have the trophy in our sight. Then it all came crashing down like a pack of dominoes. We were going to face Chemistry -a team that we always defeat constantly. The reason why the match still feels like a dream was that we lost a 2-goal advantage in the second half. Quayyum and Fuhad gave us a 2-goal lead at the end of the first half. However, our problem started as Akinlabi Habeeb came down with a muscular spasm. Then it all went to the critters. A couple of changes by the coach altered the tide of the game as we were completely overrun by a spirited Chemistry side. They equalised twice, and we lost the penalty shootout with a scoreline of 5-4.
The players were distraught, the supporters were down, and the coach had nothing to say as we were collectively dejected after the match. Man, the memory of the match needs to be repressed as it was a traumatic experience for everyone. We had our sight on the trophy, and it was snatched away from us in twenty-five (25) minutes.
As far as football is concerned, the team doesn’t have any more competition to play in our 2nd year. All the players had gone back to what they know how to do best; reading and forging ahead in their studies. However, I don’t believe this is the end of the search for a gold medal for our class. The 200 LEVEL SURVIVAL TOURNAMENT was a great experience as both the coach and the players learnt a lot. So as long we still have the dribbling skills of Habeeb, the goal poaching spirit of Fuhad, the toughness of Quayyum, the resiliency of Ezekiel and the support of our able classmates, victory is still in view. And to our future opponents, WATCH OUT!!!!! A dominant team will be coming your way in subsequent football tournaments.
Abdulsobur Abdulazeez Olatunde