'Barack' Obina: Better than Eto’o and Ronaldo

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Sunday’s Corinthians and Palmeiras derby was supposed to be the clash of the Pentacampeões.

For the first time, forward Ronaldo and goalkeeper Marcos, key players in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup triumph, would enter the pitch as opponents.

But neither the 'Phenomenon' nor the 'Saint' took centre stage. Instead, the afternoon belonged to a controversial sidekick, who now has his name written in the history books of one of the country’s fiercest rivalies.

If Ronaldo drove Corinthians fans crazy for having scored the 91st minute equaliser against Palmeiras in their São Paulo State meeting in March (his first in a Corinthians shirt), what will happen to striker Obina?

Debuting in the derby for Palmeiras, he scored not one, not two, but three goals to seal a humiliating 3-0 victory over their arch-rivals.

NEWS: Obina hat-trick helps Palmeiras crush Corinthians

Ladies and gentleman, meet “Barack” Obina, the newly-appointed president of the Palmeiras nation, leader of the Green world.

In the Brazilian football world, Obina now stands for hope. The tropical “Barack” – real name Manuel de Brito Filho – arrived to Palmeiras last May after reaching rock bottom in Flamengo.

Overweight, he hadn’t scored a goal in six months. His signing was generally seen as a joke and a waste of time.

Silently, Obina shut his mouth and practised hard to earn a second chance.

And after only two months at Palmeiras, he has netted eight times after his fantastic hat-trick against Corinthians.

Change, we can believe in.

Ronaldo? He was substituted 20 minutes into the game, with a suspected broken hand following a dispute with Palmeiras’ Souza in which the Phenomenon fell to the ground with his body crumpling over his left hand. (Cruel fans joked that no bone could take all that weight.)

Without their main weapon, Corinthians were no match for the Boys in Green – Marcos was a non-paying spectator of the game and only starred in the post-match interview.

Smiling, he sang the “O-o-o... Obina is better than Eto’o” chant created by the Flamengo fans when their honeymoon with the chubby striker wasn’t finished yet.

Is he better than Eto’o? Hard to tell.

But as the Palmeiras fans were shouting at the end of the match, “O-o-o... Obina is better than the Fatso,” for one day at least, yes he is.

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