I have my heart on Ghana getting to the World Cup final and winning it all: I changed my Twitter handle to ‘Ghanacanwinit’ at the start of the matches. The ghost of the quarter-final defeat by Uruguay in 2010 has to be exorcised; it was by the performance against Germany last night. The match finished tied, 2-2, but in the world of what if that is football commentary, Ghana will look back on chances wasted by bad decisions when they had the German defence outnumbered in open play with the score at 2-1 and 2-2. But, that is part of football’s beauty. Their goals were beautiful strikes that came from a brand of fast and fluid interchange I have seen often in recent years. Technique is not missing. Final application is often. Mostly, not this time. Germany hit first and then came back well. Take the draw: it’s a fact.
Immediately after the match, I contacted a friend in Accra to let me have something on how Ghana reacted. Within minutes, he sent me: “We go put pepper in your eyes … We gonna make you cry. that’s how bad we’ll beat you.” He told me he was going outside to see if he could get me some pictures of revelry; it was very late at night, so he came back with nothing but another quote: “Oh I can’t say anything bad about the boys!!! Andre Dede Ayew both breasts are yours!!!” – Honorable Hajia Amma Frimpong.
What the match meant to people of African descent was clear, especially, those who have Jamaican connections, whose Ghanaian connections are still clear–Maroons history, Accompong. Some comments were very strident–Africa was coming back at Europe, alluding to slave ancestors and more. My friend proudly and loudly hailed his Black Stars. My best man is Ghanaian and I have to hail him and his wife today, to celebrate. I read reports that the Brasileiros were cheering for Ghana. It’s not the first time Ghana has lit up the World Cup, but this time heads turned because of the opposition; Germany has top-notch footballing pedigree. Behind Brazil, they strike fear in most teams’ hearts. Ghana did not get the memo, of it they did, it made no sense. Run, dribble, pass, shoot, knock heads, knock feet, jump up, run harder, faster… Neuer in the German goal was the man under pressure. He could not save either goal. Ghana could have scored more. Fans were happy. Social media was on fire.
We all love the little inside stories. The Boateng brothers, one playing on each side.
A cynic was quick to point out that the game got lively once brotherly love was done and both had been substituted.
Miroslav Klose came on and scored with his first touch of the ball, to equalise. He matched Ronaldo with 15 goals as all-time top scorer in World Cup finals; Ronaldo also scored his 15th against Ghana.
All this on the longest day of the year. Historical facts are set.
But, the story was about Ghana sustaining their beautiful game, honed on decades of youth development. The under 20 team has been in the World Cup for that level since its inception in 1970. Importantly, they won the cup in 2009. The senior team did not make the final rounds until 2006. Flattering to deceive no more.
The team has stars and some grace the game at the highest club levels in Europe, with Italy now a happy hunting ground, helped by the performances over the past decade. Many great players still play in the national league. But, cream rises to the top. (Ironically, one of Italy’s new starts, Balotelli, has Ghanaian parents.) The youth have been blended well, and now the discipline needed to succeed at the highest levels is showing up clearly.
Well, Jamaicans will appreciate another aspect of the Ghana story: music and dance. The teams that are surprising this time round are coming with choreography. Ghana has the music going in the stands, and now they showed the stseps on the field, after their goal. It is all wet Africa. Watch.
Ghana is also about hairstyles, and that starts at the top with the captain, Asamoah Gyan, proudly sporting his number on his head.
Ghana is about African diaspora. Jamaicans are very much part of that. Maybe our football federation will think of linking with the Ghanaians and see how they can help us with our football program. ‘Back to Africa’ movements or Marcus Garvey might not have had that as a prospect, but sometimes we miss the obvious.
But, the match is and was about goals, plain and simple. Enjoy them all again here.