Tag Archives: Die Nationalmannschaft

EMBRACING WHAT IS OURS

We are inching closer to the semi-final stages of the 2018 World Cup, and the competition is getting juicier. This is definitely one for the memory books considering how many great teams have fallen along the way (wink wink Portugal; wink wink Argentina; sad wink wink Germany).

Count yourself lucky if your favorite team has at least made it into the quarters of the World Cup. Mine didn’t; they did not even make it past the group stages. For a minute, okay, let’s be honest, for some time now, I have been suffering from an internal paralysis. Don’t be alarmed! My organs are not failing. But, I feel a deep sense of loss, a deep sense of mourning, and an even deeper sense of stunned motionlessness. ‘Where did they go wrong?’ is a question that keeps ringing in my head. It actually feels like a small part of my heart is broken. These changes in the world order are too monumental, you cannot ignore them.

That is how much emotion I had invested in the German national team going all the way to the finals of this tournament. Their football, their passion, their lust for glory has beguiled me for years, and it was like a kick in the stomach when they could not meet my expectations this time around. I probably should have seen the signs when they lost to Brazil in that international friendly match three months ago. I ignored those warnings!!

I craved and yearned to see them play at their best. My body and mind needed that fix I get whenever they play. I was looking forward to that excitement, to the numerous goals, to the un-ending action. But it all came to a sudden stop, and now my drug of choice isn’t flowing anymore.

For some time after they were knocked out, by South Korea no less (you can check out my short commentary on how devastating this loss was here), the World Cup for me felt empty. At least until I caught the Belgian bug.

I’m better now, thanks for asking. I am beginning to enjoy the WC  a little bit more, so that’s a ray of sunshine.

I am still very disappointed though, but my disappointment is not only directed towards Die Nationalmannschaft. They sucked, and that is on them, but I also feel a bit disappointed in myself.

Why?

I just came to the sad realization that I am putting too much effort into deifying another country’s football team whereas I can barely remember eight names from the Harambee Stars’ starting line up. That is so sad!

Sure, the love of football should transcend all borders, but how comes I do not feel the same commitment, and loyalty to our national team?

Why don’t I get thoroughly depressed when they lose? Why do I dismiss them so easily, and only take the time to watch just a few of their matches annually?

Why is it that I do not feel connected to Harambee Stars as I do another country’s national football team?

Fifa currently ranks our national football team at position 112, which is a bit embarrassing I have to say. I also think we have the worst football management in the history of football management. There are so many reasons to not pay attention to Kenyan football, to Kenyan sports for that matter.

But, I feel like a traitor. Whether they suck or not, there are tens of men and women all over this country who are playing football at a professional or semi-professional capacity for many months every year. We see the sacrifice our brothers and sisters are putting into playing in this toxic, depressing environment that is Kenyan football, and they do not stop. That’s their love for the game. There’s a resilience about being a Kenyan football player; about being a Kenyan sportsperson that you just cannot find anywhere else.

We, scratch that, I need to honor this sacrifice (you have to do it as an individual before we can achieve the desired collective action).

Our standards, techniques, coaching, or management may not be anywhere close to professional standards, but the sacrifice these players are making has to count for something.

And, I am all about embracing everything that is Kenyan, including that which is inherently wrong with us, football included.

Maybe if we paid more attention to it, like serious attention to it, and own this process of understanding the intricacies (problems and all) of Kenyan football, we can start revitalizing it; correcting the mistakes one by one.

Maybe that’s how I (and hopefully you) will learn to feel more connected to it.

It’s ours; love it or hate it, it’s always going to be ours, and we might as well find the gems hidden in the cow dung that is our sports fraternity.

We have a national football team. It is not the best but it is ours. We have to give it a little more love.

Enjoy the rest of the WC!

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IS 1-0 REALLY VENGEANCE?

I have seen numerous headlines this morning regarding yesterday’s international friendly match between Germany and Brazil and they all seem to suggest that the Selecao has reclaimed their honor by beating Germany 1-0 in the latter’s home turf. The overwhelming sentiment is that the Brazilians have managed to avenge their World Cup defeat to Germany nearly four years ago. People have already seen Brazil win this year’s cup because of that SOLITARY Jesus’ goal! They have already predicted how Germany will flop this year, the same way that Brazil sunk in the last World Cup. NKT!!!!!

First of all, hogwash! My understanding of the term ‘vengeance’ does not seem to fit this narrative being spread around. Yesterday, Brazil won 1-0 in Berlin in an international friendly. Four years ago, Germany thrashed Brazil SEVEN goals to ONE on the Selecao’s home soil in the World Cup Semi-Finals! Brazil has not managed to avenge their most humiliating game in world history. That one goal defeat cannot even be considered a sting to Germany’s brilliant World Cup record. They have only managed to anger the bull as far as I’m concerned.

As you might have noticed by now, I am an ardent Die Nationalmannschaft supporter, and I have been for several years. To me, the German national team is like a well-oiled fighting machine that destroys everything in its path (clearly, I’m into violence; blame it on my obsession with video games). I love their tenacity, their strength, and their ability to wear their opponents down minute by minute. And, they do it so mechanically, so methodically, that you often find yourself pitying their opponents. It’s usually a ‘bringing the sheep to the slaughter’ kind of scenario everytime a team is set to face the Germans

Hence, my complete astonishment at these frenzied reports that have surfaced regarding my favorite national team’s performance last night. Let me let you in on a little secret, people, that game was purely experimental! Did you see Muller play? Did you see Ozil on that pitch last night or Can? No! Because this was not a must-win game, and what better opportunity to try out your other guns than a friendly against the world’s number two. Several major changes were made to the usual German line-up, and there were many young players on that pitch because, as Low put it ‘ ..that is why you have such games, to try things out.’ And try things out they did!

Granted, their performance was not as stellar as it usually is, and Brazil capitalized on the clear lack of cohesion in the German side by absolutely covering themselves with that 6-3-1 formation. But, we saw a lot of young, untapped talent as well as some flashes of glory from the German side that I hope we’ll get to see more of in the World Cup. Wagner, as usual, was impressive, although he missed the mark a couple of times. Boateng brought nearly his all to that match, and I liked his energy and persistence throughout the game, all hallmarks of a great captain (let us just be honest, this boy can do no wrong in my eyes, he is as perfect as they come! Seeing him play always excites my little heart! I almost cried when he went down after Jesus stepped on his back quad, it was really devastating to see him in pain!). Moving on swiftly…

Least impressive for me was Mario Gomez, and so it was a sigh of relief when he went out for Wagner. Needless to say, we are in this mess because of Trapp’s error, but there is no point kicking a man when he is down is there?

Brazil had everything at stake going into this game, and they played their hearts out to secure that lead. Dani Alves, Marcello, Willian and Jesus (goal-scorer) played really good football yesterday, and they had me gasping for air at certain moments. (Especially Willian, I cannot get enough of this boy! He puts everything he has in every match he plays, I don’t know how he does it). I just hope they have something left for the actual World Cup matches. The only let-down for me from the Brazilian side was Coutinho. His head was never in that game and it was clear to see. He better pull his socks up or he’s going to end up costing his side big time on the big stage.

Despite the win, and Brazil managing to stop Germany’s 22-game unbeaten run, Brazil is far from ever redeeming themselves or avenging their catastrophic World Cup semi-final loss to Germany four Decembers ago.

Anyway, I hope both teams are prepared for Spain. After the thrashing the Spaniards gave Argentina yesterday, you best believe that Spain is a formidable opponent in this year’s World Cup!