It was the 73rd minute of the 90 and my mind was totally in a state of confusion. I mean, how is my team losing by a goal to nothing? Haven been tipped to be the champion of the community football competition even before the knockout stages commenced and here we are at the final match of the competition and we couldn’t find a single goal since the first second of the game.
What’s wrong with us but we are playing well? Or aren’t we? Wait! It has just dawned on me that we are missing something.
Gosh, what could it be? I searched my mind and racked my head for answers, the referee would soon blow the whistle for the game to continue has the injured player for whom the break in play actualized has been treated and confirmed fit to progress in action.
“Please Lord Help us” I prayed silently I overheard two men conversing clearly from the spectator’s stand at the resume of play.
Man 1: Rangers really disappointed me today o
Man 2: I told you, didn’t I? I sensed that they were over confident after their celebration after the semi-final win.
Man 1: They’ve all lost focused.
Man 2: T hey are no longer playing like a team that they were when the completion began, they are all playing individually because they want to be known as the star player of the final which is not the right way.
Gosh, the second man’s words were bitter but I agree to it. It’s the truth, we indeed have lost our team depth. Okon doesn’t give out those his usual killer passes that he is known for and so is Henry even I myself, have being sluggish all through, I can’t run as fast as I used to. Till now, I thought may be the opposition players were the ones faster than I was. But anyways, its time all this stop. I need to get the team back together, it may be late but we have to try.
“Juwon! Juwon!! Juwon!!!” I heard my coach screaming my voice from across the pitch. I turned towards him and saw him give me hand sign which I knew meant “Please play as a team” I knew this because that was his motto even when we trained.
Another break in play because an opponent dived in our 18 yard box to claim a penalty not knowing the referee was well positioned to see clearly what transpired and he unbiasedly flashed a yellow card at him. Although Daniel one of our defender claimed that the player was already on a yellow card and argued that he should be sent off the pitch as that should be his second yellow card of the game. We knew he had mistaken the player for another and quickly told him the truth but he was too headstrong and bent on the referee to give him a red. When suddenly he pulled back the referee who wanted to walk out in front of him and that pushed the referee to also giving him a yellow card.
We quickly gathered around him telling him to leave the referee alone as he did the right thing. Only God knows what came over him at that moment but I quickly utilized the moment in talking to every one of them to please for the remaining 10 minutes left to play. “Let’s all focus on the game and play like we have to qualify for the next round, play for what we started for”
That was all I said and those few words seems to be magical as the game changed in our favor. Kola and James passed the ball amongst themselves and the Ahmed our goal keeper, placing the opposition lone striker as a middleman, while his teammates were arriving, James confidently passed the ball to Okon who beautifully skipped past the opposition winger, I smiled because I knew I was next in line to receive a pass, I quickly looked ahead to find out Ken and Taye, our two strikers were open when I suddenly spotted Daniel at the right wing with enough free space to capitalize on. A quick flip of the ball was what was needed which I did successfully. Anxiety grew high as Daniel received the ball and raced towards the opponent’s 18 yard box with the ball. Taye and Ken positioned themselves to receive the ball, a cross was expected and Daniel did, the ball spun into the box, went swiftly towards the middle, almost arriving at the feet of Ken when a defender suddenly intercepted the connection and kicked the ball out of play for a corner kick.
“Dam it!” I cursed silently.
James, Daniel, Kola and Okon moved forward into the box, I don’t normally go for corner kicks because I am short, so I hang around the 18 yard box and wait for loose balls.
“Juwon shoot” I heard Okon scream as an opponent headed the ball away from target but towards me. I quickly comported myself, balancing well to make sure I utilize this opportunity. WHAMP!!! I kicked the ball powerfully and watched the ball fly directly towards the target only to be accurately followed by goalie who gave the ball a hard punch to fly above the goal post.
“God Dammit” I cursed
5 minutes is all we have left after the second corner kick was retaken but this time Taye had kicked the ball higher than the target. We all retreated back and waited for the goalie to play the ball back into action when an opponent poked his face from behind me and said “Won’t you wake up”
“Wake up? How?” I said confused
I turned around to get another look at who just spoke only to feel my head on a soft layer and find myself on my comfy bed. It was all a dream.