For the last week, I’ve been running a teacher development course in Krasnoyarsk with some wonderful local teachers. It was weird being in Russia as World Cup fever grips the nation, but away from the cities where the matches are being played . . . and busy from 9 till 6 every day.
Despite that, I’ve been doing my best to keep up with all the action, and on Friday night – my last night in the city – I ended up in a bar called No Problems, where a lovely Nigerian guy called Danny worked. He’s been living in Siberia for five years and speaks fluent Russian. He had many friends there in the bar and had managed to generate fanatical support for Nigeria as they took on Iceland in the late kick-off.
It was a cracking game. The first half was a very cagey affair. If a game – or period of play – is cagey, the two teams are cautious, with neither wanting to commit too many men forward. They probe away – trying different ways of attacking their opponents to sound each other out and find a weak spot – without much success. There are few clear-cut chances – obvious opportunities to score a goal and the two teams basically cancel each other out.
Incidentally, away from football, people can also also be cagey – or give a cagey answer or response – if they deliberately choose not to give much information or any kind of an opinion when asked a question. This kind of thing is obviously rife in politics and business!
Anyway, as the two teams left the pitch at half-time, it was nil-nil. In the second half, though, the game started opening up a bit. Both teams were less defensive and started coming out more, pushing players forward and going for it. Nigeria looked far more likely to score, and in the end, it was indeed the Super Eagles who drew first blood with a beautifully taken goal by Leicester City’s Ahmed Musa. The game now exploded into life as the wind was now in Nigeria’s sails and they poured forward in wave after wave of attack. Clearly, it was only a matter of time before they got their second.
It came through Musa again, and he took it as well as his first. There was then some late drama as Iceland were awarded a penalty . . . which Gylfi Sigurdsson skied, blasting it high over the bar. When the final whistle went, the whole bar went mental, free shots of beetroot juice and vodka appeared . . . and the rest of the night is a bit of a blur!
I’m back in London now . . . with that slightly sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that will be familiar to any of my compatriots who’ve ever followed England’s fortunes through an international tournament! In other words, I’m half-expecting us to get thrashed (beaten badly) by Panama tomorrow!
- Have you seen any other games that were pretty cagey this World Cup?
- What was the last goal you saw that was beautifully taken?
- Have you seen anyone miss any easy, clear-cut chances?
- Can you remember the last time your country got thrashed at a sport?
- Have you had any nights out recently that ended up a bit a blur?