Friday, December 30, 2005


As mentioned elsewhere, the Christmas Eve visitor for us was Az Angyal - the Angel.

The Angel comes in on Christmas Eve, puts up the tree, decorates it, and puts all the presents under it, in the late afternoon/early evening while the children just happen to be out for an hour or so.

Well, as a result of other events documented elswehere, this Christmas Eve our household was rather shrunk (ironically just as it had in practice become larger), and so I sent Bogi out with the neni who looks after her when we're working/out, and took on the angelic role myself. It was a bitch of a job, I have to say, and I find myself having new found respect for all winged dead people who live on clouds.

Well, obviously it's not a bitch of the job in the sense that I got to spread Christmas joy and cheer and brighten up my 6 year old stepdaughter's life no end, but in the sense of the sheer physical labour involved. You see, trees don't sit in pots here, they get put into a rather elaborate wrought iron supporting holder thingy. But the tree trunk was thicker than the hole provided for the purpose, so I spent over an hour sawing it to the requisite thickness, using only a hacksaw blade. (If I had thought about this in advance I would have been out to buy a real saw that may have made it easier - or even I suppose a hacksaw itself into which I could have inserted the blade - but obviously when you only realise that you will have to do this after all the shops have closed, you have to make do with what you can)

It was all worth it though, even though the angel did forget one entire bag of gifts which were hidden in the shoe cupboard and which thus arrived a few days later.

Buek 2006

I saw this word written in lights on a factory the other day, and wondered what it meant. It was obviously festive and seasonal and related to the new year, but it was a word I had never before seen, and I thought I knew all the Christmas/New Year wishes expressions. Turns out that in fact it's actually an acronym meaning Boldog Új Evet Kivánunk (We wish you a happy new year). Now, being the contrary sod that I am, I actually felt somewhat hard done by by this seemingly half-arsed wish. I guess it was cheaper in terms of lights. I have yet to hear anyone actually wish me a BUEK, but I wonder if anyone ever does use the acronym to express their best wishes. It's laziness taken to the nth degree, IMO.


Well, tomorrow is Szilveszter, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish both my readers a happy new year and a generally cool and groovy 2006. This year a new law has been enecated regarding the sale and discharge of fireworks prior to the big day, and so far it seems to be working - unlike last year (documented here), when by this date the town was rent by a constant stream of explosions, this year I've barely heard one. I presume tomorrow they will return with avengeance and make up for lost time.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


More inter-linguistic cross-cultural bureaucratic fun.

On Tuesday I went to Udvarhely to pick Erika and Paula up and bring them home. Before they could be released from the hospital though, I had to complete a bunch of paperwork, and take it to the city hall to get a birth certificate. I was ushered into an office where myself and a nurse proceeded to complete these forms. This was interesting as it was a conversation that happened in my limited Hungarian and her limited English in order to complete a form in Romanian.

Many of the lines were easy to fill in - the names etc were all printed on the wedding certificate and our ID cards. For that it was just a question of her copying stuff down correctly. Others involved a little bit of dialogue - her asking me what Erika's job is and her level of education and so on. This I could cope with though, and was feeling quite chuffed with my comprehension and responses, when suddenly she asked me something about Erika which question I had absolutely no understanding of. She tried repeating it a couple of times but it wasn't helping, so I asked to see the form - often I can understand Romanian better than Hungarian from speaking other latin languages. Aha, it said "Religia". This I could have a stab at and we continued. Then she had to do the same thing for me, and once again we hit the "Religia" question. Rather than go into detail about my own particular brand of agnosticism, I took the lazy way out and went for "Anglican". Fine. She understood what that was...but then, she realised she had no idea how to write Anglican in Romanian. (It's not terribly surprising, while I'm sure she was pretty fluent in the language, it's unlikely that she would ever have had to use the word Anglican in any way ever in her life before that moment). Eventually, she made the guess that I would have, and wrote Anglican as phonetically as possible as if it were said by a Romanian (which may actually be "Anglican")

So, once I got the papers out, I was free to go to the City Hall and get the birth certificate. This proved to be surprisingly easy and there is no funny story to tell about the experience. I have to go back and get it next week though, since they had a bit of a backlog, what with it having been a holiday period and there being a number of births to go into the register.

Eventually though, my girls were free to go, and were released from the delicious cuisine of Udvarhely Hospital. (Most of my trips over involved a shopping list of goods to supplement the culinary offerings). And now they're home safely and our entire existence has been thrown upside down. In a good way though.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Paula's birthday

Thursday December 22nd, 2005. When we woke up Erika was complaining of some small contractions. I say "small" because that's how she described them, but as everyone knows, women basically have no realistic concept of pain.

Man (slightly cuts finger): Arrrgggghhhhh. Expletive deleted. Expletive deleted. <5 minute tirade of swear words>
Woman (partially amputates own arm with a rusty fish slice): Ooooh. That stings a bit.

So, anyway, she's suffering some level of pain that would probably lay low an entire troop of battle hardened Marines, but thinks that "It's nothing". As the morning goes on, I keep solicitously enquiring after these contractions, but they are still regarded as nothing much, and certainly nothing to get worried about or to start driving over the mountain to the hospital for. I, on the other hand, am frantically consulting our dog-eared copy of "What To Expect When You're Expecting" every few minutes to work out if there are any visible signs I will be able to pick up on to offer up as conclusive evidence that this is in fact the onset of labour, and hence get her to the hospital.

We make stuffed cabbage for Christmas dinner. I do the heavy work, such as grinding up the pork (this at least makes me feel that I'm contributing in some small way as this kind of thing is an odd activity for a vegetarian to be indulging in). Erika does the mixing, and subsequently the stuffing. It is thus, then, that at 2pm on the day in question a visitor would have witnessed Erika bent double over the kitchen counter, gritting her teeth against the pain, and rolling pickled cabbage leaves around a kind of pork/rice paste. By now the contractions were coming every five minutes (by a curious coincidence, my enquiries after her well being were coming at similar intervals). Eventually at 3pm she agreed (in an effort to shut me up perhaps) to call someone at the hospital. There was no answer, but it seemed that she felt she had done all she needed to at this point.

Eventually I convinced her that we really should probably go, as from what she told mne about the frequency and length of the contractions it was certain to me that the baby's head was out by now. We called our friend Gyözö, who had offered (nay insisted) that he drive us over to the hospital, and he came over to pick us up (he has winter tyres on his car). We finally left the house at 4pm.

The road over was not too bad, a little slippy in places and with a light dusting of snow, but at least it was daylight and there were no real problems. I was glad that I was not at the wheel, though, as I was knotted up inside with tension and I think my fists were clenched in traditional white knuckle style. By this time, Erika was timing her contractions down to about three minutes apart, and I wondered whether we'd have to pull over and deliver the baby somewhere on the Harghita Mountain.

Finally, at 5pm, we made it into Udvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc in Romanian), and drew up at the hospital. We found the midwife on duty and she examined Erika. She came out and said that she'd called the doctor as she thought the baby would be here in ten minutes to one hour. Ten minutes! I was extremely grateful that I hadn't known this ETA while on the road.

An hour later she told us "I think, about an hour". At this point Erika's doctor arrioved and told us, "an hour or two". We went off to buy Erika some slippers (Romanian hospitals don't provide you with any of the stuff, and the ones that Erika had packed, the midwife had looked upon rather disdainfully). By 7pm we (Gyözö and I) were back in the corridor, looking at bits of old sterilisation machines that had been dismantled and left to clutter up the hallways. Time passed. I sat, I wandered aimlessly, I tried to read a book (without success). At about 8.30, at the edge of the two hours that the doctor had suggested as the outer limit of this wait, a nurse came sprinting past us from some other corner of the hospital and into the delivery area. This did nothing for my nerves, since I knew that Erika was the only person in there, and why would a nurse need to be sprinting unless there was something seriously problematic. By now my wandering had turned to pacing and trying to strain my ears to hear anything at all from behing the doors.

But then, 15 minutes later, out walked the same sprinting nurse from earlier carrying in her arms a little bundle of cloth with a baby stuffed in the middle. My baby. Our baby. Who was fine and healthy and perfect. Apparently, behind the doors, everything had gone very smoothly and normally. Paula got taken away to wherever it is that she was taken to, and Erika had to remain in the delivery room for four hours to rest before going up to the ward where she would be reunited with Paula. I started texting people and taking phone calls. So overcome was I that I completely omitted to slip the doctor his envelope when he came out past us and went home. (There is a system of wage supplementation for doctors here, and for delivering a baby the going discrete backhander is 1.5 million Lei. Had the baby had to be delivered by caesarean, it would have been 3million, so I was all ready with various denominations. The midwife gets a mere half million, which seems a bit unfair, but thems the breaks).

Eventually, with no reason to wait around any longer, Gyözö drove me home. Mother and baby are still doing fine and everyobody is happy and healthy. Two pictures below:

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Christmas

I am achingly happy to announce that last night at approximately 8.45 local time, Paula Reka Hockley was born looking as beautifully gorgeous as it's possible to look when covered in slime. Both she and her mother are healthy and well, and her father is still far too elated to be especially coherent.

[Pronunciation guide: Paula is pronounced like the Italian name Paola rather than the English Paul-with-an-A-on-it. Reka is NOT pronounced "wrecker", but closer to the Japanese name Reiko - something like Ray-kaw (where that last syllable is very short)]

My only regret is that due to factors beyond my control (an innate crapness at indoor photography) I cannot share with you a reasonable picture at this

I hope you all have a very very merry Christmas and New Year and a very happy and successful 2006.

Andy (and Erika, and Bogi, and Paula Reka)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hrean man

Lately, I have been eating a lot of horseradish. I have decided that it (horseradish) is one of the finest and most underrated of vegetables. That, of course, is assuming that it is a vegetable. The Romanian word from horseradish is hrean and the Hungarian word is torma.

I have started eating it with everything. The other day, for example, I had a horseradish sandwich. It was gorgeous. And here I am not referring to horseradish sauce, or horseradish mixed with mayonnaise, but genuine strong, sinus-clearing, head-expanding, wasabi-esque horseradish. I'm thinking of writing a horseradish cookbook. This will be a triumph of marketing as it will basically just be lots of traditional recipes with horseradish added. I might even make it trilingual so it would feature, for example, fish 'n chips 'n horseradish, as well as tormás rakott krumpli, and of course mămăligă cu brânză şi smântână şi hrean. It would go down a storm in the lovers of strong tastes community of the Hungarian-Romanian-English speaking world.

Yesterday I dropped and broke a whole jar of it, which caused me much grief. I half expected the carpet to be eaten away this morning.

Sorry about the title, by the way, I couldn't help myself.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Just in case

Just in case anyone's logging in here specially to find out the news of our forthcoming daughter, she's not here yet. We went to the doctor yesterday who showed us that she's quite ensconced in there (although she was looking a bit grumpy - possibly from being stared at via ultrasound technology). If she doesn't come out before then, we have to check into the hospital next Wednesday (when I say "we" here, I mean, of course, Erika) and they'll coerce her into coming out next Saturday. So, she will almost certainly be born in 2005. Aside from that, all bets are off. She's certainly not demonstrating her father's punctuality, though she does already weigh 3.9 kgs and has a big belly, so she has inherited something from me.

Been driving for 7 hours through a blizzard today, so my eyes are bugging out of my head and I shan't be writing further. Hasta mañana, insh'allah.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I look like Prokofiev

According to this site, I look a little bit like Sergei Prokofiev (60% like him to be exact). I also look 66% like Howard Dean and 63% like the kid who plays Harry Potter. And I look 53% like Nicolae Ceausescu. Fortunately I think it's utter rubbish and I don't look anything like any of them. It's supposed to be a demo of face recognition technology. As demos go, it's not that successful.

Baby watch

Still no sign. I think, astrologically speaking, she's verging on changing from an archer to a goat.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Waiting Game

Today (Sunday December 18th) is supposed to be Paula's birthday. Well, that was the theory given to us by the nice gynacologist. The obnoxious gynacologist told us December 13th, and the serious and unfriendly gynacologist plumped for the 23rd. We selected the middle one because (a) the nice one said it, and you always like to believe nice people; and (b) because it seemed like the statistically logical way to go about choosing between three dates (it being not only the median, but the mean).

At the moment, though, she shows no signs of showing up. It feels like we've been waiting for ever, when actually we've been kind of semi-anticipating her arrival since about Monday. Frankly, it's getting a little bit tiring being in this constant state of more-or-less alertness (those who know me will know that alertness is not exactly my natural state and, well, y'know it's an effort and stuff). I constantly watch the weather, I haven't touched a drop of alcohol in about three weeks (this may actually be a healthy side effect), and I'm constantly thinking about whether the car will start.

For Erika, of course, this feeling is magnified. She can't get comfortable, she wants to lie down, or sit or stand or something all the time. Plus I think she's just tired of carrying Paula around everywhere. In some ways I think all this would have been easier if the doctors had told us that the due date was January 10th and we could have been taken by surprise when she turned up a couple of weeks early.

We have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday, so I think if Paula's not made her mind up to come out by then, Erika might get admitted to the hospital anyway. I mean it is pretty cold out, so you can't really blame her for hanging round in what must be this very comfortable and warm womb, but that doesn't make it any easier for those of us outside waiting impatiently with our nails bitten down to the quick (the quick? why?). I've tried talking to her, remonstrating with her, cajoling her, being stern with her, but nothing works. She's already testing the limits of my paternal authority despite not even being born yet. Kids, eh.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Monitor Blizzard

There's an insane snowstorm going on outside right at this moment (and it seemingly came from nowehere - 30 minutes ago there were blue skies). If Erika goes into labour in the next few hours we're screwed.

Later addition in keeping with the title: It's stopped now. Only lasted about an hour in the end. All we need now is for the roads to be cleared and we're laughing.

Who comes at Christmas?

How is a Transylvanian Christmas? Who comes and gives out presents? What do they give? And what other features are there? These, I'm sure, are questions I'm sure you've all been dying to know the answers to.

Firstly, the present bearing visitor. Early last week, we were all visited by the Mikulas (Hungarian), Sfantu Nicolae (Romanian, possibly misspelled), or as English speakers will know him, St Nicholas. He comes on December 5th and leaves sweets, fruit and various goodies (finomság) in your shoes.

He is merely the first of two visitors in the month, though, as on Christmas Eve there is a second, toy dispensing visitor. This is where it gets more complicated, because the visitor varies depending on your ethnic group. For Romanians, I think, though I'm open to correction, it is Mos Craciun. This translates as something like Old Man Christmas, though that's not a very satisfactory translation (Hungarian speakers would translate it as Karacsony Baci). I'm not quite sure how and where Mos Craciun and Sfantu Nicolae differ since in Englsh the British Father Christmas is equivalent to the American Santa Claus, and therefore these two characters are roughly the same thing. Perhaps he makes two visits with different hats.

For us, the visitor wil be the Angyal (angel). The angel shows up on Christmas Eve at a time when the children have been removed from the house (I suspect that in the late afternoon/early evening of that day you see a lot of grandparents walking their grandchildren around while the angel comes), and not only leaves presents but also put up the tree, and decorates it (I think Mos Craciun does this for Romanians too). As you can see it's quite a demanding life being the angel. None of this popping down the chimney, dropping a bunch of presents, and then drinking a glass of whisky and eating a mince pie. (Did you know by the way that Father Christmas in the UK gets whisky, while his American counterpart gets milk? It's prohibition gone mad). But there is a variation (we think). Erika thinks that in Hungary (and in Hungarian families in parts of Transylvania close to the Hungarian border) it's not the angel that comes but Jesus himself (in baby form, rather than 33 year old hippy form). One wonders whether all sects of Christianity would be happy with the thought that Jesus comes to Hungary once a year and hands out toy soldiers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Barbies and so on.

After the children have come home to find that their house has been miraculously decorated in their absence, the presents are opened, and then everyone sits down to the big family dinner. I'm almost certain that stuffed cabbage is involved. It usually is. Subsequently, those who are interested in doing so go to midnight mass. On the 25th, there is no special event, but people go round and visit each other.

In our household this year, we have no idea what will happen. Unless the baby comes in the next two days, it is almost certain that Erika will be spending Christmas in the maternity ward, and it will be just me and Bogi here to celebrate the big day. I will have to hire someone to take her out for a while so the angel can come round and put up the tree (which is currently sitting on our balcony). We have some presents to open, and I'm not sure what we'll eat, but possibly it will involve large amounts of chocolate.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Measles Weasels

It's a bad time to be about to have a baby in Romania. That's because there is currently a measles epidemic here. The reason there is an epidemic, despite the vaccination being compulsory, is because they ran out of vaccine a couple of years ago and nobody really did anything about it. I'm sure (at least I bloody hope) that they are solving this supply problem now, but it's a bit late as 10 kids have already died - and the point of a vaccination program is to stop any outbreak in its tracks (if more or less everyone is immune the occasional isolated cases will remain just that - isolated cases). Now I have been in small villages in Africa and have seen little tables set up under umbrellas for vaccinating all the kids of the village. If rural Uganda can manage it you'd think Romania would able to. Cretins. I think it's simple shit like this that winds me up more than mad psycho neo-cons bombing people into accepting "our values".

Or maybe it's because I'm on the verge of becoming a father.

Bob Lung

My new favourite Romanian word, replacing “crap” (see this post from ages ago) is “Bob Lung”. OK, OK. It’s my favourite Romanian two word expression, rather than just one word. Bob lung means “long grain” and as such appears on packets of rice. You’ll be walking round the supermarket when suddenly you’ll see a bag of bob lung. Occasionally, it’s even Uncle Ben’s Bob Lung, which could only feasibly be improved if it were Uncle Ben’s Lung, Bob. Or possibly Ben's Uncle, Bob Lung.

My nephew's name is Ben. Perhaps I should go the whole hog and change my name to Bob Lung.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Winter Vegetables

It is, as you may be aware, winter. This means the range of veg. on offer in the market is significantly reduced. This, indeed, is why we spent much of September pickling, jamming and zakuszkaing. But now, as the cold begins to bite, the market is more and more the preserve of potatoes (Harghita county’s biggest export, surpassing even Csiki Sör), parsnips, leeks, kohlrabi, and other roots and tubers (is there a difference between roots and tubers? I have no idea). I have been introducing the denizens of Csikszereda to the delights of roast parsnips, which no-one seems to have seen before. Parsnips, by the way, are called paszternak in Hungarian (or at least they are in Transylvanian Hungarian – Hungary appears to name all of its vegetables differently from us, so I have no idea if this crosses the entirety of “old Hungary”). Since paszternak looks to me like a word of Slavic origin, I wonder if Boris Pasternak actually means Boris Parsnip. There aren’t that many famous writers named after vegetables, really, are there? I’m struggling to think of any to be honest. Maybe it’s a Russian thing. Perhaps Dostoevsky means courgette, Tolstoy is daikon, and Chekhov is curly kale.

[Linguistic aside: Weirdest Hungarian vegetable word, by the way, is that for onion. Now here in Transylvania onion is hagyma, which, while nothing like onion, is not especially weird. But recently I was sitting in the living room minding my own business while Erika made onion soup in the kitchen, when suddenly a blood curdling scream rang through the apartment, followed by the cry “bloody Hungarians”. Other than Erika herself, and Bogi, there were actually no other Hungarians present in the flat at that time, so I was slightly baffled by this outburst. Rushing to the source of the problem I discovered that what the cry was referring to was the cookbook that she was using for the recipe. The dish called for “vöröshagyma”, which literally translated means “red onion”, so that is exactly what she had used. But, in Hungary, and the reason for the outburst, vöröshagyma means the kind of onions that are by no means red. What you or I would call yellow onions, or just plain onions. They (the bloody Hungarians) call red onions lilahagyma (lit: purple onions). At least I think, anyway. I could of course be way off here, and it wouldn’t be the first time]

Back to the topic at hand: I love parsnips, me. The other day I made potato and parsnip cakes. They were excellent. On another winter food related ramble, I also recently made vichyssoise. Now for those who don’t know, vichyssoise is the posh French word for leek and potato soup. In the cookbook which I consulted for the recipe it stated that I could serve it warmed through or chilled as that is how it is eaten in France.

Now, I've nothing against cold soup, per se - I enjoy a good gazpacho, and I'm even prepared to believe that cold leek and potato soup would taste pretty good. But there is one glaring problem with this idea. That is that leeks and potatoes are winter vegetables. Who, in their right mind, wants to eat cold soup in the middle of winter? Gazpacho is basically salad in a blender, so that one I fully understand and go along with, but vichyssoise? It’s madness I tell you.

We ate it hot, as nature intended.

In other soup related cultural insanity news, Hungarians eat fruit soups. Apple and sour cherry are the two I've seen. There comes a point where you have to bite the bullet and admit that your soup is in fact a cleverly concealed dessert, and I think Hungarians need to come clean on this one.

(By the way, Microsoft Word’s spellcheck function recognises vichyssoise but not gazpacho. I wonder what it makes of mulligatawny? Oooh – it's recognized. Why is gazpacho given the cold shoulder I wonder? Maybe the dictionary compilers refused to recognise cold soups. I may have to do some more soup/word crosschecking research)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Football article

Well, it's an exciting time for me, as I've just had an article published in When Saturday Comes, the only good football magazine in the UK. It came out at the weekend, I'm told (my copy won't arrive for another couple of weeks yet). I wrote about the farcical recent Romania vs Nigeria friendly international, and well, you can read it yourself as I have reproduced it in full below. On the off chance that you have a copy of the magazine and this is not exactly the same it's because they've employed a sub-editor to make it readable and stuff. Anyway, enjoy.

We’ve all seen it happen. A match is organised, there is confusion among the participants as to whether it will actually take place, no-one is quite sure when it kicks off, and finally the visiting team show up late without enough players to make up a team and have to borrow a local or two to make up the numbers.

In this case though, rather than a couple of estate cars overstuffed with slightly portly and sheepish looking blokes drawing up and wondering if they could borrow a couple of players, the whole comedy of embarrassment was played out on Romanian TV, as the Romania vs. Nigeria friendly descended rapidly into utter farce.

The signs were there as much as a week in advance when the Nigerian Football Association Chairman, Ibrahim Galadina, informed the media in Nigeria that the game had been cancelled at the request of Romania. They even, it seems, managed to arrange another friendly with Oman to make up the gap. But, in fact, the match hadn’t been cancelled at all, and was still scheduled to go ahead. The NFA finally contacted its players on the Monday, 48 hours before the game, to let them know they had been selected and would they mind going to Bucharest. Realising the late notification may be a problem, they took the unusual step of inviting 40 players to the game in the hope that some of them at least would show up. In the circumstances it’s hardly surprising that most of the names in the Nigerian side chose not to.

By lunchtime on the day of the match, due to start at 5pm, precisely 3 Nigerian players had made it to Romania. Just after 2pm a plane arrived carrying a further 7 players (protesting that the match was supposed to start at 8, and saying “Let us rest. We’re dying of hunger”) and the remainder of the “delegation”, which consisted of one official from the NFA, assistant-to-the-normal-assistant-coach Daniel Amokachi, and the goalkeeping coach (the team’s manager Augustine Eguavoen had decided to go to Morocco instead to watch the second leg of the CAF Confederation Cup).

With the players at the hotel attempting to grab a hasty nap to recover from the long flight, the officials were seen in one of Bucharest’s shopping centres, getting names and numbers printed onto the shirts. By this time an eleventh player had been identified, FC National Bucharest’s Agumbiade Abiodun. Apparently he played a couple of games for the U17 Nigerian Team back when he was (presumably) under 17, but since then had not been close to the squad. Still, he was available and in the country. Interviewed on TV when they located him (by this time the “game” was big news and it seemed like the media had taken over the business of trying to make it go ahead), he was asked if he knew Amokachi. “Oh yes, I know him very well, I just don’t think he knows me.” Yet more Nigerians were located, seven in all, players for second division FC Targoviste, but they were deemed surplus to requirements – after all by now a twelfth player, Benedict Agwuegbu (a man who even had some previous caps), had arrived from Austria.

Finally, in front of a massive crowd of 300, and a Nigerian bench of one sub, but still live on TV, the match kicked off at 6.20pm. For the record, what amounted to Romania B beat Nigeria D 3-0. The real question, aside from whatever recriminations go on in Lagos, is why on earth this game was arranged in the first place. Romania don’t have another competitive match until the qualifiers for Euro 2008 begin, and having already played Cote D’Ivoire the Saturday before, they’d presumably got whatever practice they needed against West African opposition (in preparation for the remote possibility of meeting another in the group stages of WC2010?). For Nigeria, it was billed as a warm-up game for the upcoming African Nations Cup. But with none of the first choice team playing, and the coach not even showing up to watch, it’s debatable what kind of a warm-up it actually was. Still, if nothing else, at least Abiodun, Brentford’s Sam Sodje, and a whole bunch of other previously uncapped players have stories to tell their grandkids about how they ended up playing for Nigeria.