‘You call this noise? What is a million vuvuzelas?’
If it hadn’t been for Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, the 1-0 defeat to Argentina could have been much worse for the African side. That is one reason why the Nigerian supporter contingent, even if outnumbered by the Argentinian fans, remained upbeat throught the match.
The green-white-green stripes of the Nigerian flag were seen on toddlers, their parents and even foreigners at Ellis Park Stadium in central Johannesburg.
Jerseys, vuvuzelas, scarves and human faces were appropriately painted in a large outpouring of patriotism from one of the biggest foreign African communities in Johannesburg.
The Dutch coach has banned vuvuzelas, but Nigerians can’t understand the fuss.
“You call this noise? This is child’s play! What is a million vuvuzelas compared to the generators we hear 24 hours a day back home?” Laurence Okonkwo said, seconds before his trumpet let out a blast in the ears of an Argentinean.
The Argentinean returned the favour.
Nigerian officials joined the crowd too, even walking alongisde other fans in a way they would not dream of at home.
In Nigeria, officials think nothing of arriving late for a game and then interrupting it to make clear to everyone that they matter more than the game.
Nigerians may be learning some lessons off as well as on the pitch in South Africa.
PHOTO: Argentina’s Lionel Messi (L) collides with Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama during a 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg June 12, 2010. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen