As the global soccer audience turn attention towards Sunday’s final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, some Nigerian former youth footballers based in France are rooting for the country’s national team, Les Bleus, to emerge champions.
Though the French side will be up against a formidable and compact-playing Croatian team in the ultimate game, starting 4pm Nigeria time, the supportive youngsters, led by two lads who grew up in Lagos, believe France can repeat their feat of 1998.
Back then Les Bleus won the trophy on home soil, with a 3-0 win against Brazil, buoyed by two goals from Zinedine Zidane and a 90th minute effort by Emmanuel Petit, with the like of Thierry Henry and current coach, Didier Deschamps in the squad.
The French win came despite a 68th minute red card for Marcel Dessailey, while the like of Ronaldo De Lima, Bebeto and Rivaldo could not lift The Samba Boys to a sixth title, as history was made at Stade de France, Saint Denis on July 12, 1998.
Now 20 years on, former Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry (MFM) FC of Lagos youth team midfielder, Michael Andrew (Jimoh Igidigbo), who is now based in Paris, is sticking out his neck for France to beat Croatia on Sunday to win their second title at the Mundial.
Though it would also be recounted that France lost to Italy in the Germany 2006 final, in which Zidane got a red card for head-butting Azzurri defender, Materazzi, Andrew’s pal, Wasiu Afolabi, who says he now has a new French family, expects a rosy end this time.
Afolabi, who grew up in Ikotun area of Lagos joined Andrew in different posts on social media to declare total support for France against Croatia, especially after their other preferred teams, Nigeria and England, could not make it to the July 15 final in Moscow.
Andrew declared with a high sense of confidence: “Allez la France; vivre la FRANCE;” while Afolabi added: “My neighbour said she will surprise me if France win, that she will stop drinking and smoking. I said oh that will be great.
“France win o, but she I should allow her to drink for the last time to celebrate. Allez Les Bleus. ICI C’EST FRANCE.”