Saturday, February 20, 2010

NIGERIA’S FOREIGN COACH WAHALA











Football has been described as a theatre by fans worldwide, largely due to its suspense and entertainment qualities. But, going by the increasing number of names on the wish list of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the search for a foreign technical adviser to coach the Super Eagles, for the umpteenth time, has seemingly transcended into a circus (and a theatre of the absurd).

While other countries seem to be in the final stages of preparations, Nigeria is still searching for a foreign coach to lead the Super Eagles to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. At least 20 names have been mentioned, at one time of the other, in the NFF search for a foreign coach. Now Arrigo Sachhi (former Italy coach) and Glen Hoddle (former England coach) have been thrown into the bandwagon of 'probables'

Although, recent reports have it that former coach of Sweden, Lars Lagerback; former Ghana coach, Ratomir Djukovic and Qatar coach Bruno Metsu are top contenders for the Eagles’ coaching job (after the Eagles’ job offer was turned down by Guus Hiddink, the newly appointed Turkish coach, Louis Van Gaal and Giovanni Trappatoni, coach of Ireland); the country’s football federation authorities have conjured different names at different times , hoping that one of them would agree to lead the Super Eagles team to the 2010 FIFA World Cup slated for South Africa in June. The NFF wish list had also included names such as Frank Rijkaard, Herve Renard, Claude Leroy, Bonfere Jo, Englishman Peter Taylor and Egyptian coach Hassan Shehata. While the likes of John Barnes, Klaus Topmoeller, Dragoslav Stepanovic and former England coach, Sven Goran Ericksson filed in their application without the NFF asking. This comes on the heels of the ‘transfer’ of Shaibu Amodu to coach the Eagles’ B team – created to accommodate local-based players, despite meeting the set target of reaching the semi-finals of 2010 Nations Cup in Angola.

For many Nigerians, the NFF indecision to replace Amodu swiftly, with the bandying of different names of coaches they never formally contacted in the first place, might not to do good for the country’s cause of performing creditably well at the World Cup.

“It would take only a miracle for Nigeria to perform at the World Cup with current level of preparation,” said Super Eagles midfielder Seyi Olofinjana on brilafm sports radio. Olofinjana lamented the fact that while other countries already have their handlers in place and have continued earnest preparations for the World Cup, Nigeria is still searching for one. “We are talking about a World Cup which will hold in June and we still don’t have a coach,” he queried. Nigeria remains the only country among the thirty two World Cup bound countries without a ‘standing’ coach in place to lead them.

Patrick Ekeji, Director-General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Taiwo Ogunjobi and Dominic Iorfa are members of the NFF executive committee saddled with the responsibility of meeting the coaching candidates in London. According the NFF, three names would be decided upon by February 26 while the new Eagles’ coach would be unveiled two days later, on February 28. And if Bolaji Omo-Oba, the NFF secretary General, is to be believed, whoever is finally appointed as the Eagles’ World Cup coach would have to make do with watching his team from the stands when the Eagles take on Paraguay in a friendly match billed for March 3 in London. “We cannot wait for the new coach because there is no time, so we will call up the players and the team will resume camp for the game,” he said last week, while adding that “there will definitely be somebody in charge for the game”. Even Paraguay have reportedly pulled out of the friendly, preferring to play Athletic Bilbao instead.

Although the identity of that person remain uncertain until February 28, Ojo-Oba’s words just reechoed the need why the NFF should act fast on appointing a coach to lead the Super Eagles to the World Cup – time is running out.

Monday, February 8, 2010

DORA, THE SUPERWOMAN, IS BACK


Finally someone in the cabal goes the right way. The recent memo presented by Minister of information and Communication, Dora Akunyili, to the Federal Executive Council, in which she called on President Yar Adua to 'step down' ruffled many a feather. The former director-general of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), whom many Nigerians have come to love and admire for her passion, selflessness and patriotism in carrying out her duties, finally stands up from the crowd.

"I believe that in the choice of all of us, as individuals and group, Mr. president must have considered our ability to guide him right to serve our people better, promote and protect the constitution in line with the oath of office taken before him in this chamber by each and everyone of us...," the second paragraph of her memo read. Akunyili brought examples of how the absence of the president has created a logjam in the running of state affairs. "Many of those opportunities existed in the past 70 days that I do not need to recount. I do not need to repeat the uncomplimentary statements made by the United States, United Kingdom and EU concerning the current state of affairs in Nigeria.... I wish to call on the Federal Executive Council to act now in the best interest of our dear President and our dear nation...." the memo continued.

"If we fail to act now, history will not forgive us. I rest my case," were her closing statement.

What the men in Nigeria's Federal Executive Council (FEC) couldn't do; well, a woman, Dora, did!

Nigeria needs men who can stand for the truth, and rise above their self interests. It doesn't matter if they come in feminine skin.

Well Done, Amazon Dora. Let the revolution be televised.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

AVATAR THE REVIEW: HOLLYWOOD REINVENTS


Avatar sure delivers on the hype and shows 3D technology in all its wonder and majesty.

Finally, we watched it. Movie critics worldwide have long agreed that whatever Hollywood director James Cameron touches is certain to be a box office hit. But his $300 million dollar 161-minute film, Avatar, broke the limits. In just seven weeks after release, it has crossed the $2 billion mark, further eclipsing Titanic’s worldwide box office gross record of $1.843 billion. The 3D animation distributed by 20th Century Fox show is about blue-skinned aliens trying to defend their space against US invaders has continued to stun millions of viewers worldwide with its breathtaking special effects, 3D scenic wonders, surreal animation and powerful theme.

Set in the year 2154, Avatar is the story of human adventure into the exotic world of aliens; the distant jungle moon called Pandora and home of the alien tribe Na’vi, 10 foot blue creatures with yellow eyes and haunting looks. The Na’vi live in harmony with nature and worship a mother goddess called Eywa. In an amazing progression of arresting visuals, Pandora becomes an expedition site for human curiosity – the US based RDA Corporation, an seeking to mine a valuable rock called unobtainium (a fictitious term coined by engineers in the 1950s to describe any extremely rare, costly, or unavailable or practically impossible material to use) from ‘Hometree’ – home of the Omaticaya clan of the Na’vi (get the joke, unobtainable –ium). Parker Selfridge heads the mining operation, which employs private military contractors for security.

The adventure into Pandora truly begins when scientists create avatars, hybrids grown from Na’vi and human DNA, to enable research of Pandora’s unfriendly biosphere and communications with the Na’vi. Pandora gradually becomes a love nest and then a battle field for both aliens and humans. The hero of the plot is Jake Sully (played by Termination Salvation star Sam Worthington), a disabled ex-marine who is drafted into the team to replace his late twin brother, a trained avatar operator, as his DNA matched with the avatar. But, Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), head of the Avatar Program, considers Sully unfit to take his brother’s place and assigns him as a bodyguard.

Jake, together with anthropologist Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore) and Grace finally leave the US base in their respective avatars on the mission – to collect biological samples and data in the Pandora forest. An attack in the forest splits Jake from the group and he is left alone to ward off the predators by himself, until he is rescued by the beautiful female Na’vi huntress, Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana), and brought to Hometree. Neytiri’s mother Mo’at, as the tribe’s spiritual leader, is convinced by Jake’s story and mandated her daughter to teach him their way of life. Like in all Hollywood epics, there would always be a love twist to the tale. Sully not only learns the language, culture and war strategies of the alien natives, he also falls in love with Neytiri.

After spending over three months, Jake wins the trust of the Na’vi and the heart of Neytiri, who become his mate.

There is a further twist in the tale when Jake’s allegiance is brought to question when he disabled an RDA bulldozer while it embarked on a destruction of the Na’vi’s Tree of Voice, a sacred and gigantic tree revered by the tribe. Jake is forced to reveal his true mission to the Omaticaya. Neytiri is shattered and accuses him of betrayal. Both Jake’s and Grace’s avatar are then captured. RDA still goes ahead to destroy Hometree, killing many Na’vis in the process, including Neytiri’s father and the Tribe’s chief Eytucan. Back in RDA, Jake, Grace and Norm are imprisoned for betraying RDA, but then escape with the help of Trudy Chac√≥n (Michelle Rodriguez), a security force pilot who doesn’t agree with Quaritch’s methods. Jake finds the Omaticaya and regains his trust by taming Toruk, a powerful flying beast that only five Na’vi had ever tamed. However, Grace, seriously wounded during the getaway by Quaritch, could not be healed by Mo'at at the Tree of Souls.

Fast forward. Jake, together with Tsu’Tey (leader of the Omaticaya) and Neytiri, help to raise thousands of warriors from various Na’vi tribes to fight against the human – RDA Corporation. The Na’vi suffer heavy casualties and Quaritch finds Jake’s avatar link unit where his human body is located and attacks it, exposing Jake, in human form, to Pandora human-unfriendly atmosphere. Again, Neytiri comes to Jake’s rescue by killing Quaritch. Neytiri sees Jake’s human body for the first time and both declare their love for each other. “I see you,” They both say. After the attack is defeated, Selfridge and the rest RDA personnel are captured and expelled from Pandora. However, Jake, Norm and some other scientists stay back with the Na’vi tribe. There, a ritual is performed that transfers Jake from his human body into his Na’vi avatar, permanently.

Avatar has been described in glowing phrases – extraordinary, delivers on the hype, produces sensations of wonder, awe and delight, stuns the eye and seduces the heart, the most beautiful film in years – but TIME’s Richard Corliss might have captured its whole essence when he rightly noted that “for years to come it would define what movies can achieve, not in duplicating our existence but in confecting new ones,” he wrote in his review of Avatar. For its development of 3D viewing and stereoscopic filmmaking with cameras that were specially designed for the film's production, Avatar gives a captivating bird’s eye view into the future of filmmaking technology.

Love, suspense, passion, loyalty, betrayal, salvation; Avatar has it all to make the epic of all times. Or what else do you expect from a movie that played in the mind of a Hollywood director genius for fourteen years? And in the end, 161 minutes seem too short a lifetime for 3D cinematic beauty. Only a daring few would bet against it not sweeping the Oscars. And then a sequel.

© ARUKAINO UMUKORO