Football Fans and the  Prediction Game

Onboard a flight from Doha to Brazil, I asked Muhajin, an  Iranian who was on his way to Curitiba to watch his country’s World Cup match against Nigeria,  his prediction for the Iran–Nigeria game. He began by first paying his respect to Nigeria, saying that Nigeria is an experienced soccer nation unlike his, and that the best result he believed  his country could get against the African champions  was a draw. But he never ruled out the possibility of an upset, as, according to him, no one expected Spain to lose 5-1 to Netherlands.

Muhajin’s measured prediction however, was at variance with those of three other Nigerians: Samuel Okpara, Chizoba Okonkwo and Ekene Ogbuagu I met on a bus ride from Sao Paolo to Curitiba, the next day. The three Nigerians all predicted victory for the Super Eagles. While Okpara and Okonkwo predicted 2-1 scoreline in favour of the Super Eagles,  Ogbuagu said his darling team would win 1-0. The three young men were  sure victory  would go Nigeria’s way. “We are going there to support them and they will win,” Okonkwo added, for effect.

Well, at the end of hostilities at the Arena da Baixada on June 16, it was clear who got the prediction right. I could visualize  Muhajin, with a grin,  saying ‘I told you so.’

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