Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Domitable Lions

Tanzania ranks something like one-hundred-and-whatever in the FIFA table thingy. And Cameroon ranks, like, thirteenth. So when they came to play us in our brand spanking new Chinese-donated National Stadium many of us were justifiably skepitcal even as we flooded into the place to catch the likes of Eto'o and Song. No one could have imagined that the match would have turned out the way that it did, with a draw that all self-respecting Tanzanians have translated into a definitive win for us. 

Patriotic Moment: Taifa Stars did us all proud. They were aggressive from the get go, and never flagged throughout the 90 minute game. The stuck to the Cameroonians like shikanguo, took every single chance at the goals that presented itself, and hung in there like scrappy little hyenas. It was beautiful to watch, and finally Maximo has proved to his detractors that his approach is bearing fruit. Patriotic Moment Over.

We also played rude. I know that winning should be everything, but what happened to sportsmanship? There were at least three instances where a TS player shoved a Lion with both hands, evidently looking to foul and not playing the ball. But it was a lion who got a yellow card after gently shaking off one runty TS player during a defensive move. It was sad to watch the Cameroonians (who admittedly tower over us) play with reserve as though they feared that if they handled us any harder they would all get red-carded. So, we drew. Better to lose with respect that be handed a fake draw...

The proof of our skills of course lies in our performance in the return match in Cameroon this Saturday. We milked home advantage while we had it, and it went straight to our heads. I fear that the Lions are going to shove it down our throats and then some when they get back to their turf. Still, at least they gave us that one glorious Saturday in June when Taifa Stars tangled with the Indomitable Lions and came out alive. 

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