Game on!

Published On: July 6, 2018 07:54 AM NPT By: Kalu Maila

My wife is a big fan of Messi like billions of folks around the world. She thinks that in her previous life she was an Argentinian. Now, it’s my turn to roll my eyes and look at her as if she is crazy. It’s funny that I have been a big fan of England since the 90s and my wife has to choose a country that doesn’t get along well with England. Both countries have been football rivals and have also been at war for Falkland Islands in the 80s. Even till this day, I have a towel of the English Football Team. My wife has tried to throw it away many a times but I have always managed to recover it from the trash. Yes, God save the Queen!

I like Messi too but I’m more of a fan of goalkeepers than strikers. Maybe it’s because I played that position in my high school team. For me, the Mexican goalkeeper Ochoa, also known as the ‘Great Wall of Mexico’, is my favorite player. I still remember the names of goalkeepers from a dozen countries from decades ago.   

Goalkeepers don’t get enough respect. They are the last person before the post and no matter how many saves you make in a match, one error and a goal and the whole world blames you for your team’s loss. But when you win, it’s mostly the strikers and the players up front who get all the credit. But of course, goalkeepers turn heroes during penalty shootouts but then they are forgotten the very next day.

My wife is sad because Argentina lost to France in the second round and this could most likely be the last time Messi will be playing at the World Cup. My wife tells me that Messi just plays the game quietly and is confident of his talent while Ronaldo might be handsome and a hunk but looks arrogant. I guess women can tell how men are by the way they play football. 

England is still alive in the game and I think they are lucky to have had easy group stage games and could reach at least the semifinals this time around. I may be a huge England fan but I’m also in touch with reality. The English always falter and disappear halfway through the tournament. This time might be different. One can always hope. 

My wife has still not recovered from Messi’s exit from the World Cup. I feel bad for Messi and my wife as well. My wife is now cranky and seems to be in a bad mood every time the World Cup game is on TV. She has even stopped watching the games but she can’t help it when she hears the whole neighborhood shout every time there is a goal. Then she calls me from the bedroom and wants to know who scored and against whom. I tell her to come to the living room and watch the game with me but she declines my offer because Messi has gone home. 

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if Nepal gets to the World Cup.  We have seen many Nepali fans of Argentina cry on Facebook. Tomorrow, when our own national team plays and loses then can we handle the loss like human beings or will some of us just go crazy or be depressed and become psychotic and even suicidal? 

At the end of the day, it’s just a game. But football seems to be different from basketball or cricket. You don’t get into a fight with your neighbor when Sri Lanka beats India in cricket. You don’t go crazy when the Chicago Bulls fail to reach the playoffs. Yes, I’m a huge Chicago Bulls fan since Michael Jordan ruled NBA. It seems that many of us still support the teams from our childhood and stay loyal even though we know that the current team will not be able to win anything. 

It will take my wife at least another week or two to recover from the ‘Messi’ syndrome. But, no matter which team you support, nobody really wants to miss the final of the World Cup. I want England and Russia to play in the final. But it seems more likely that France and Belgium or Croatia and England will face each other in the semifinals. Now, it’s my wife’s turn to roll her eyes. 

She tells me that I should be standing at Ratnapark and letting the whole world know about my football predictions. Who knows, I might be a ‘swami’ someday and make millions by predicting everything from sports to politics. I tell my wife Deuba will not be the prime minister again. 

She rolls her eyes once again and tells me that an astrologer once told her that she would be our president. I hope the astrologer’s prediction will come true someday. Then, I can be the first ‘First Man’ and tag along with my wife when she goes to watch Argentina play and win the World Cup once again. But, by then, Messi will be an old man and maybe my wife will also have lost interest in all things football. 

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