Watching Arsenal and West Ham gave me a taste of ‘Wakanda Forever’

LONDON – Contrary to popular obsession, I’ve never watched the sought-after sci-fi superhero movie Black Panther.

Perhaps its genre – being the mastermind – that ticks me off, considering that I’ve never been a fan of such Marvel movies from the days of the Avengers, X-men and so forth.

But I’m not immune to it. I’ve been open enough to listen to its admirers enthuse over it, while the hype didn’t elude me last year either.

And I also needed to do my own research about it before typing this article.

I’m in London, accompanying last season’s MultiChoice Diski Challenge champions Bloemfontein Celtic on their 10-day European tour.

And among the already fascinating events that we’ve explored so far have been watching live matches of the Uefa Europa League and English Premier League.

In my observation, a sentiment of Black Panther came into light in both matches.

My short synopsis about the movie is that, it’s about a young black prince that returns home to assume the role of king for the Wakanda nation in Africa.

His reign is tested as he’s got to defend his nation against dangerous invaders who want to dethrone him and instigate havoc all over the world, and these are the same culprits who had previously killed his father for the hot seat.

The insignia of being true to your identity and attaining victory in this movie is portrayed through the arm-crossing gesture with fists, known as “Wakanda Forever”.

Since its release last year, this sign has been widely used for post-match celebrations by athletes in different sporting codes.

And luckily for me, I was treated to a surreal experience when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang became Arsenal’s superhero as he inspired his side to a 4-3 aggregate win over Rennes in the Europa League last-16 at Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.

He scored a brace in their 3-0 win, which overturned a 3-1 deficit from the first leg.

Not leaving any stone unturned, his match-winning performance was completed the Black Panther way as he wore an identical mask, while displaying the “Wakanda Forever” sign after scoring his second goal.

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Mihlali Baleka poses outside the Emirates Stadium in London, where he watched Arsenal take on Rennes in the Europa League.

On Saturday, the famous insignia was on display at our base, West Ham United, when they hosted us at London Stadium for their EPL clash against relegation-threatened Huddersfield Town.

And it was a game that saw Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez coming off the bench to become United’s Black Panther.

The Mexican striker inspired the Hammers to a terrific finish that brought three goals, in which he scored a brace, in the final 15 minutes to complete a 4-3 come-from-behind win that eased the disquiet that was beginning to take root at the London Stadium.

And that brought back the life to the Hammers supporters, who savoured their famous logo that’s identical to the “Wakanda Forever” insignia for hours.

However, that became pointless when I learnt that Orlando Pirates were deprived of the “Wakanda Forever” moment at 28th September Stadium in Conakry, Guinea as they were bounced out of the Caf Champions League group stage after a 2-1 loss to Horoya AC on Saturday night.

This was hurtful as I was, after all, used to the crossbones of Orlando Pirates that would bring a roar at Orlando Stadium.

However, that elusive moment was a national tragedy as Mamelodi Sundowns, as usual, will be the country’s only flag-bearers going into the knockout stages of the competition.

It’s no secret that continental football is invaluable to a league’s growth, on and off the field of play.

But nonetheless, it’s useless to cry over spilt milk, but we will hope that Sundowns’ Black Panther will continue to inspire the team to the Promised Land yet again!

@Mihlalibaleka

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Mihlali2 - Watching Arsenal and West Ham gave me a taste of ‘Wakanda Forever’

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