For any male who passed through secondary school, football followership was a religion. Whether it is the watching aspect or the playing aspect. The pinnacle, of course, was the principal’s cup. A tournament held every year which aimed at crowning the best footballing secondary school in the state, it was what we all looked forward to. As the editor of my schools newspaper , the most emotional moment was when we won the competition in my last year in secondary school with a bloke called JESUS MALAIKA. My story starts from the final of the competition played at the Teslim Balogun Stadium ‘Welcome to the 50th principals cup final ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Its King Landing secondary looking to take the trophy back to their palace going up against Anglican Baptist Boys who hope to take the trophy back to their Priest. Of course every war has its battle and this afternoon’s will see JESUS MALAIKA square up against Anglican Baptist Judas ISCAROIT Madu .We wait to see who outdoes each other in the next 90 minutes or perhaps 120 minutes.’ That was the commentary of the final and on hearing the name Jesus Malaika, I couldn’t help but feel confident of our chances of winning the competition for the first time. Of course we wouldn’t be here without Jesus Malaika .Like his popular namesake, he had been our saviour throughout the competition just like Christ is said to be the saviour of the human race. Jesus Malaika, what type of name is that you might wonder .Well he wasn’t born with the name, his real name was Joshua Malachy. A tall lanky lad of 17 years .His height meant that the goalkeeping position was tailor made for him and boy did he make it his own. He rose to prominence during his first year of senior secondary, coming on as a substitute for Solomon OLEMBE Yusuf in the quarterfinal of the principals cup two years past .The decision of Coachito to bring him on against Catholic Eucharistic boys was one of Coachito’s greatest masterstroke as a tactician but I could vividly remember the shock then anger of the school when hje made the decision. Jesus Malaika just took it all in as he assumed his position between the goal post. See, Jesus Malaika was like that, he was as cool as an ice berg from Antarctica .He saved 3 of Catholic Eucharistic Boys 5 penalties and we progressed to the semi-final .Although we were knocked out that year –the game didn’t go to penalties – there was belief that we had all it took to go the extra mile. And the extra mile we went the next year .Jesus Malaika was now established as the number 1 after Solomon OLEMBE Yusuf wrote his WAEC .It wasn’t to be however as we lost that years final to Ansar-Ur Deen college in the final. But as Freidricth Nietzche said ‘what does kill you makes you stronger ‘we were bettered prepared for this final and standing in our wat was Judas ISCARIOT Madu and his Anglican Baptist boy’s juggernaut. As the School newspaper editor, I sat with my schoolmates on the touchline as the final got under way. I had asked Coachito in the changing room if his tactics was to frustrate the Anglican Baptist boys into penalties .Coachito just looked at me and smiled which simply meant a ‘no comment ‘.See , that smile meant that was exactly what he planned on doing . As the game progressed, I remembered the day Joshua Malachy became Jesus Malaika .It was a hot Wednesday afternoon, the second leg of the second round agaibst Ajumoni Boys of Iyana Isolo. The game at Kings Landing had ended goalless and Ajumoni were confident of progressing to the quarterfinals on the sandy pitch of their school. In a hostile environment where every natural and artificial element was against us and with basically no support whatsoever ,we held our own .It wasn’t made easy by the red card given to Thomas BADOO Owoyemi for apparently telling the referee he wanted to drink water .Jesus Malaika stood tall and brave like the British and American soldiers in the battle of Normandy in 1943 .He pulled off one handed saves , point blank saves , saves with his head and even his buttocks as the Ajumoni boys camped in our half .Regulation time came and went followed by added time extra time ,still we held on .Then penalties came .I could feel the contagious and palpable anxiety of the whole Ajumoni school .They had never lost a penalty in their school stadium but I could feel the uncertainty on their breadth and also see it in their eyes .The Ajumoni boys were scared , they were about to face judgement day .I remember Coachito organising the penalty takers and instructing the team when Jesus Malaika suddenly stood up and went to the Ajumoni bench saying aloud ‘LET ANY OF YOU WHO HAS NEVER SINNED BEFORE SCORE THE FIRST PENALTY’. I thought he was taking this saviour thingy to seriously but true enough, when the shootout commenced, no Ajumoni player scored. Jesus Malaika stood tall, arms stretched out like Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. He went the right way in all of Ajumoni’s first three personalities and we were through to the semi-finals. The stadium was dead silent and as we hoisted Jesus Malaika in the air, right back Kelvin “littlefinger” Johnson started.“Let them hear, Joshua is our saviour, his name is Jesus, Jesus Malaika”The chanting spread among our entourage but surprisingly was picked up by our opponents as the whole stadium joined. It was a hullabaloo of “JESUS MALAIKA, JESUS MALAIKA, JESUS MALAIKA” It was half time the final, it was goalless sweltering hot in a very absorbing game. Judas “Iscariot” Madu had tried to score Jesus Malaika thwarted him. We had almost scored ourselves as defensive midfielder Daniel “engineer” Okunsanya played James “pimpleface” Kilanse on goal but he could only hit the upright.Coachito was getting more eccentric by the minute. See Coachito was like that was like that. Always restless whenever a match was stale. However , this year had been the worst due to our knack of winning on penalties .He had been the school coach for 20 tears but had never won the ‘Coupe De La Grace’ the name he calls the Principals cup .This was only his second final although it had come back to back. Running into Coachito last week at Kings Landing library, I did a quick interview on the upcoming final for the school newspaper. ‘Coachito, don’t you think you are pushing your luck too far by playing for penalties?’ I asked He looked at me and gave me his trademark smile ‘With Jesus Christ, you do not push your luck. That’s the Christian belief. With Jesus Malaika, no penalty shootout against us shall prosper.’He replied I had looked at him, wanting to tell him that he was getting too religiously fanatical for a football coach but I didn’t want to dampen his spirit and besides I was just a journalist . The second half started at slower pace compared to the first what with the 39 degree celcius hot and draining weather .Both teams couldn’t match the frantic pace that characterized the first half.Daniel ‘GARRIDRINKING’ Aghale was always coming to the bench for water, Jerry ‘BIGTEETH’ Abdulharam was falling under the slightest of touches and Thomas ‘BADOO’ Owoyemi looked as if he wouldn’t mind another red card .The most eye catching was Coachito who was shouting at the top of his lungs.It was the 89th minute, extra time was looming, with the possibilities of penalties, Coachito’s plan was working so far until it happened. It was virtually the last attack for the Anglican Baptist Boys .John ‘SKORAN’ Victor passed to Hassan ‘ABOKI’ Attahiru who then released Judas ‘ISCARIOT’ Madu down the right .His first touch was superb , taking him past a hapless Smart ‘COPYCAT’ Adeyemi but he still had Thomas ‘BADOO’ Owoyemi to deal with .Two Cristiano Ronaldo esque step overs deleted ‘BADOO’ Owoyemi and his nefarious tackle leaving Judas ‘ISCARIOT’ Madu one on one with JESUS MALAIKA .The spectators were silent at they realized that the clash of the titans was about to go down .Coachito stood rooted to the spot , I wondered if this was the end of the road as I stood up .Then out of nowhere came Seyi ‘JEHOVAHWITNESS’ Raimi .He pulled ISCARIOT Madu back and cleared him from the grass .to be honest I have never seen a more blatant foul in my short journalistic career. Since the foul happened in the penalty box as well as Raimi being the last man, the penalty was a penalty was a penalty –pun intended – and a straight red card. As Seyi ‘JEHOVAHWITNESS’ Raimi trudged off the pitch, he shouted ‘JESUS MALAIKA DO YOUR THING ‘Now the crowd cheered, a few booed but it seem as if everyone had eventually gotten what they wanted .JESUS VS JUDAS .I remember how the commentary went ‘Well well well, the much awaited 21st century clash between Jesus and Judas has been initiated by a Jehovah Witness and Alas, we have what we have been waiting for .Will Judas try to outsmart Jesus for the second time in 2000 years or can Jesus again show him the true master .The battle of the Js will determine this footballing war .Let’s see what’s going to happen ‘ The crowd went silent again as Judas ‘ISCARIOT’ Madu stepped up and placed the ball on the penalty spot. The heartbeat of every spectator seemed to be synchronized to the same rhythm .I looked around, assessing and gauging the level of anticipation when my eye caught something. Coachito was down on his knees in the technical area. He then started crawling to the touchline, mumbling under his breath .The mumbling increased and I realized it was the Lord’s Prayer. Then he started singing‘MALAIKA PLEASE SAVE THIS PENALTY MALAIKA MALAIKA PLEASE SAVE THIS PENALTY MALAIKA BECAUSE YOU ARE OUR SAVIOUR BECAUSE YOU ARE OUR SAVIOUR YOU WILL NEVER NEVER LET US DOWN PLEASE SAVE THIS PENALTY MALAIKAAs Coachito sang in his partial mini madness partial religious –overzealous-individual state, Juda ‘ISCARIOT’ Madu took four steps back and prepared to smack the ball. Time stood still, Coachito closed his eyes, Daniel ‘GARRIDRINKING’ Aghale was drinking water but it wasn’t penetrating his oesophagus as it dripped down his shirt .Anglican Baptist John ‘SKORAN’ Victor had spittle dribbling down the corner of his mouth as if he was already tasting the delicacy called victory . Jesus Malaika spread his arms wide in an upward arc, looking like his name sake on the cross of Calvary in the holy book, the upright poles were like the two thieves beside him in the book of truth .He was still, like a lion about to catch an antelope in the Serengeti .Madu took one , two , three steps towards the ball .Then, SMACKED IT!
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