Friday, 2 July 2010

Pandemonium!

Its in the dying minutes of the first-half of the quarter-final match between Ghana and Uruguay at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. The first third of this half had seen a tentative, even nervous Ghana and an Uruguay that sought to assert its authority early on. But this was not to be, because it was Sulley Muntari of Ghana who blasted a shot from way off that nobody expected to amount to anything. The ball sailed past two Uruguay defenders and a hapless Uruguay goalkeeper straight into the net, just as the first-half ended. And around me all hell broke loose...

Okay, I'm a head taller than John, but when he leaped up from from his seat, he jumped so high I was scared that he might damage my carefully tended bonsai tree on the windowsill, or worse still fall awkwardly and hurt himself, ruining a perfectly lovely evening. And the yelling and screaming! Its almost as if John kicks the ball from thousands of miles away in London whenever a Ghana player is in possession. It became rather uncomfortable sitting next to him, having been kicked a few times, so I've left him and come to the desk to cool off by typing this post, but with one eye still on the game..

And then the second half begins and Uruguay scores and peace is restored to my living room.. Well, sort of.. What was excitement has now turned into anxiousness. Both teams are at level pegging and Richard Kingson the Ghana goalie is tested over and over by a now more aggressive and determined Uruguay. Then Ghana makes a substitution and my heartthrob Stephen Appiah comes on to replace Samuel Inkoom. And now the game has suddenly become more interesting, for me that is..

After three minutes of added time the game ends. At full-time the score is Ghana 1 Uruguay 1. This game is going into extra time, another half-hour of noise and chaos. Oh, I'm shouting back too as I type, agreeing to everything John says, just to keep him happy. I once heard that excitement can have an aphrodisiacal effect. I hope this is not true, because its been a long week and I really do need my rest. Besides, I'm not as young as I used to be..

Anyway, its now the 28th minute of extra-time and Kevin Prince Boateng has just missed scoring by a few inches with a powerful header from John Pantsil's throw-in. And then a desperate scuffle at Uruguay's goalmouth and one of the Uruguay defenders pushes away the goal-bound ball with his hands, right on the goal line. Referee issues the mandatory red card and the guilty Uruguay player is sent off. Referee awards a penalty to Ghana. The noise, the excitement, the tension.. And then Asamoah Gyan takes the penalty right at the last minute of extra time, but the ball goes straight to the crossbar, bounces over and beyond the goal and Africa's golden opportunity to make history is lost forever.

So extra-time ends and the much dreaded penalty shoot-out has reared its ugly head.. Asamoah Gyan takes the first penalty and scores, redeeming himself. Uruguay score their first penalty. Stephen Appiah comes forward and scores Ghana's second penalty and Uruguay responds immediately, scoring theirs too. Then John Mensah delivers a penalty which by all standards is poor and the Uruguay goalie saves it easily, but then Uruguay's own penalty that follows is also saved by Kingson. Ghana's next penalty by Dominic Adiyah is saved and Uruguay score their last penalty. This means that Ghana have lost and as with the whole of Africa I am terribly heartbroken. But even in my sadness, I must comfort my dear John who is now falling to pieces.. Later..

8 comments:

Akin said...

Anengiyefa,

Now you will know what your loving arms can do.

Akin

Anengiyefa said...

Hello Akin,

I thought I was the emotional one, but tonight has turned that idea upside down. The power of football eh?!

It isn't very often that one sees a person who ordinarily is a tower of stoicism and strength, fall apart in the way that I witnessed..

You're correct, my arms were kept busy for a while..

c'est moi said...

Oh,it was so heart-wrenching & absolutely gutting for all of us Africans...i couldn't sleep for hours after the match.

On a lighter note..what have you done with Djimon?...you have moved on,haven't you? now that John is firmly & solidly in your life,eh? :)

But it is lovely though,this new blog layout..I love it!..goodbye Djimon...

Anengiyefa said...

Hi C'est moi,

Had Ghana won, I would have become a Ghanaian citizen overnight, lol. No, seriously, the outcome of the match was terribly upsetting, seeing as Ghana was the better side and absolutely deserved to win..

Well, the difference between Djimon and John is the same as between fantasy and reality. :)

And oh, thanks for mentioning (and liking) the new look for the blog. I was desperately hoping that someone would approve of it..

CodLiverOil said...

I woke up at 4am local time to watch that match.

Although Ghana lost and they squandered many chances (both teams were guilty of that charge). Ghana played well. They just missed making a monumental step by a whisker.

At the very least they have improved considerably compared to their last outing, unlike their brothers (Nigeria).

I wrote a piece on that, here.

Click here

I was positive as to the general strides Ghana is taking in many fields, and maybe one day our eagle will be able to soar into the sky from which the black star brightly shines...poetic, not really more like aspirational.

Anengiyefa said...

Kanu Nwankwo in an interview with the BBC while in South Africa said specifically that it is the administration of football in Nigeria that is the problem, not the players themselves.

Therefore, I don't see how suspending the team from international competition for a period of time will serve to improve the quality of sports administration in Nigeria.

Jonathan's decision has not been well thought through. It is rash and a knee-jerk reaction to the nation's disappointment at the team's performances in recent times. The team wasn't particularly impressive either at the African Cup of Nations in Angola earlier this year.

And on the new background of the blog, views have differed, but thus far it seems that the "ayes" outnumber the "nays"..

CodLiverOil said...

Anengiyefa

Thanks for publishing my comment about the wall paper. I thought, that might be "it" for me.

Kanu had no business going to South Africa as a player. Undue influence was exercised either by him or someone on his behalf. It is this kind of interference, that hinders an already troubled team.

The whole blame can not be shouldered by the eagles, this is true.

But they are partly responsible for the nation's football woes, as displayed by poor decision taking on their part.

Click here for how Nigeria's players are partially complicit in their demise

Even one of the eagle's admitted, that this generation of eagles were way below expectations.

Click here for an honest self-assessment of the eagles by a current eagle

This is a fine article about the eagles not being entirely responsible.

Click here for: I do agree the eagles are not entirely to blame

I think it would be better to start again from fresh, rather than having a poor team, go and get humiliated repeatedly on the international stage, and take a worse "schlacking" than they have received already. The key problem lies with the NFF, structure, policies, practices and members. The players and their selection needs to be re-visited comprehensively. Semi-cosmetic changes won't work, this being the case it would make sense not to have the eagles playing until this can be addressed. Success is mainly down to planning and careful preparation and some luck. Not an over-reliance on prayer, luck and last minute poorly thought through preparation as is currently the case.

CodLiverOil said...

Ok, the world cup is now over and South Africa has exclusive bragging rights on the African continent. Seeing how
they capably managed to host the world cup relatively hitch free.

I was impressed by their cities, and infrastructure, they are at least 100 years ahead of the rest of sub-Saharan
Africa.

But I would like to say, people shouldn't forget the vibrancy that characterises Africa. The life and the pulse of the people is catchy.

Thank you Ghana for once again re-affirming why you are the pace setters on the continent. Your team was the only African one worthy of their title "the black stars". They did shine brightly in South Africa.

I've attached a link for a musical flavour of South Africa, something other than the vuvuzela.

Click here