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Can a dark horse win 2018 World Cup?

By Frederick Mordi

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This year’s edition of the World Cup, which holds from June 14 to July 15 in Russia, may well spring surprises as dark horses could upstage the usual suspects.

Nobody gave Panama and Iceland, which will be playing in the World Cup for the first time since the tournament began in 1930, a dog’s chance of qualifying from their groups. But both countries booked their tickets to Russia at the expense of more experienced teams.

Given this, there are reasons to believe that some countries that have never gotten beyond the quarter-finals, may progress beyond this stage in Russia and possibly lift the World Cup, in spite of the overwhelming odds. It is not mission impossible. History is replete with countries that proved bookmakers wrong.

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In 1990, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun caused a major stir at the World Cup that Italy hosted, when they defeated Argentina, the defending champions, by a lone goal. Although pundits had dubbed Cameroun, the underdog, the Indomitable Lions eventually progressed to the quarter-finals before the Three Lions of England managed to tame them in a pulsating encounter that ended 3-2.

In 1994, the Super Eagles of Nigeria made their debut in the World Cup in USA, where they gave a good account of themselves. They made it past the first round, but Roberto Baggio’s goal at the dying minutes of the match between Nigeria and Italy, prevented the Super Eagles from soaring further in the tournament, which is regarded as their best outing till date.

In 2002, the Teranga Lions of Senegal, another African country, also beat France, winners of the tournament held four years earlier, and almost made history by being the first country from the continent to reach the semi-finals until Turkey put paid to their chances in the 94th minute with a 1-0 win.

In 2010, Ghana, a West African country, kept everyone on the tenterhooks when it looked set to break the jinx during a dazzling match with Uruguay. But the infamous hands of a certain Luis Suarez stopped Ghana from getting to the semi-finals.

The attention of the world will again turn to Africa’s five representatives at the 21st edition of the World Cup in Russia. The countries are Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. These Africans countries parade some of the best stars that ply their trade in Europe, today: Nigeria’s Victor Moses, Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Egypt’s Mo Sallah.

Apart from Africa, the other continents equally parade star-studded players such as Lionel Messi (Argentina); Neymar (Brazil); and Luis Suarez (Uruguay). The other stars to watch: Luka Modric (Croatia); Robert Lewandoski (Poland); Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal); Harry Kane (England); Andres Iniesta (Spain); and Thomas Muller (Germany).

Since the competition started 88 years ago, only eight countries from two continents have so far won the FIFA World Cup. The countries according to number of wins include: Brazil (five times); Germany (four times); Italy (thrice); and Argentina and Uruguay (twice). England, France and Spain have each won the World Cup once. Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina are South American countries, while the remaining five are European countries.

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As the date for final kick off draws near, the excitement among football fans has reached fever pitch. For instance, yesterday, barely a few minutes after Nike released Nigeria’s kits, which have been voted the best out of the 32 teams that will participate in the World Cup, the jerseys sold out. This, perhaps, demonstrates the level of support for Nigeria, but more importantly, for the beautiful game.

It certainly will be a refreshing experience if a dark horse wins the World Cup this year!

 

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The plight of Citizen Fidelis

Frederick Mordi

By Frederick Mordi

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When Fidelis got a Federal Government of Nigeria scholarship to pursue his master’s degree in one of the top universities in the United Kingdom a few years ago, he thought it was a dream come true. Although he had acquired an MBA while working, he believed a foreign master’s degree would make him more marketable.

But when Fidelis requested for study leave from his employers then, HR said he was not eligible as he had spent less than three years with the company. To qualify for study leave, Fidelis was told, he should have put in at least five years. He was faced with the dilemma of either resigning from the organisation or forfeiting the scholarship. It was a tradeoff, he knew. In the end, he chose the former option, confident he would secure a better deal when he concludes his study abroad. And so Fidelis tendered…

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Mordi debuts with true African story

My new book: ‘The Familiar Stranger & Other Stories’ is now available at the following bookshops in Lagos: Glendora Bookshop at Shoprite Ikeja, Jazzhole at Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Terra Kulture at Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos and CSS Bookshops, 50/52 Broad Street, Lagos…More to come

Frederick Mordi

By JAPHET ALAKAM

There was a time when traditional storytelling was an essential part of family life. Then, the family storyteller would sit on a stool slightly elevated from the mat on which the story-hearers sit.

The Familiar Stranger and Other Stories

But with the advent of television and radio, computers, mobile devices, especially smartphones and tabs, in the mix, the traditional once-upon-a-time stories were relegated to villages, and thus the messages that follow is lost. Though many have tried in their little way to revive the culture, but one man that is bent on doing that in a special way is Frederick Mordi, a past winner of the Commonwealth Short Stories Competition, who recently came out with a new book entitled:The Familiar Stranger and Other Stories. Frederick Mordi, has joined the growing list of Nigerian authors that are championing African literature, with his recently released collection of short stories.

Mordi’s debut anthology, The Familiar Stranger…

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Is admitting a mistake a sign of weakness?

Frederick Mordi

By Frederick Mordi

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The story is told of a professor who once required his students to present oral readings in class, while he listened. When it came to the turn of a certain student, he stood up just like the others, and held his book in his left hand.

Before he could read, the professor barked at him: “Take your book in your right hand, and be seated!”

The student flinched at the professor’s harsh tone. The looks on the faces of his class mates seemed to suggest something was amiss. But the professor was too angry to take note of the body language of his students. He took serious offence at what he considered a disrespectful gesture on the part of the student.

The other students fidgeted in their seats as the young man in question raised up his right arm, awkwardly. His arm ended at the wrist…

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Three famous orators and how they started

Frederick Mordi

The story is told of how Sir Winston Churchill, a former British Prime Minister, was once in the bathtub rehearsing a speech when his butler rushed in and asked him, “Were you speaking to me, sir?”

“No, James, I was speaking to the House of Commons,” the statesman famously replied.

Undoubtedly one of the greatest orators of the 20th Century, Churchill, it is said, used to rehearse his speeches everywhere—even in the bathroom! He was a perfectionist to the core. He rehearsed all his speeches aloud to make sure he didn’t slip on his words. He often worked long into the night at this assignment. For this reason, he was rarely lost for words. He had the right words for every occasion. His three famous speeches: ‘Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat,’ ‘We shall fight on the Beaches,’ and ‘This was their Finest Hour,’ which he gave during the Second…

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The Poultry King

Frederick Mordi

The Reverend Dr. Kwabena Darko, 70, founder and chairman, Darko Farms and Company Limited, which is headquartered in Kumasi, Ghana, is a devoted worker in the Lord’s vineyard. He is general overseer, Oasis of Love International Church.

But Darko, who has been paying his tithes faithfully right from the tender age of 16, when he gave his life to Christ, does not restrict himself to spiritual matters alone, as he is also a politician, director on the board of several companies, and a very successful farmer.

He owns what has been described as the biggest poultry farm in the entire West African sub-region and for this reason he is often referred to as the ‘Poultry King.’ Darko Farms, which is reportedly the largest privately owned industrial outfit in Ghana, is listed in ‘Who’s Who in World Poultry.’ The sprawling farm, which takes care of about 50 per cent of Ghana’s…

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Book that inspired Elumelu to become a banker

Frederick Mordi

By Frederick Mordi

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect,” Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “we should ask him what books he reads.”

A (216)

Tony Elumelu, the immediate past Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), is without a doubt, a man of remarkable accomplishments. Perhaps, one of the most consummate bankers on the continent in the last decade, he became the chief executive of a Nigerian bank at the age of 33—the youngest in the history of the country. This spectacular record has yet to be broken by his peers.

Elumelu took the banking industry by storm when he initiated the merger of the then Standard Trust Bank Plc (STB) with UBA. He transformed the new entity into a leading commercial bank with presence in about 20 African countries. Reputed to be one of the most influential corporate strategists in Nigeria, Elumelu represents…

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