First of all I would like to loudly say a very big thank you to the Ghana national football team,the Black Stars for beautifully and historically qualifying the country to the 2014 Fifa World Cup.The fact that coach Kwasi Appiah becomes the first Ghanaian and the first African coach to lead Ghana to football’s biggest ocassion makes it a special qualification.
Now the menu on the dinning table of almost all football lovers in Ghana is an international dish called “Group G”.The ingredients are that of international standard.Tried and tested.Germany,Portugal and U.S.A are the ingredients as well as the popular African football commodity called Ghana. This dish will be prepared and served not only to Ghanaians but to all people across the globe who want to have a taste of what the West African country is made of during next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
A section of the Ghanaian fans think that the international dish will be appetizing for Ghana to eat comfortably while the others think that it is an unusual diet that Ghana will be fed with in Brazil 2014 as compared with what the West Africans were presented with in 2006 and 2010 and the difficulty in consuming such dish is therefore huge.However there are other neutral fans who believe that no matter what the dish maybe the Ghanaian will always appreciate the creator of the universe and move ahead and therefore the daily say in Ghana,”God is on our side” that has become part of the DNA of the Ghanaian football supporter has been on the lips of all and sundry from Friday December 6,2013.
Should Ghanaians Hope or Fear?
I must confess that I had an initial fear that lasted for about thirty seconds once I heard that Ghana has been placed in the same group as Philipp Lahm’s Germany,Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and Tim Howard’s U.S.A.That is arguably a tougher group than playing Italy,USA,Czech Republic in Germany 2006 and Germany,Australia,Serbia in South Africa 2010.
After thirthy seconds I realized that nothing and absolutely nothing is impossible to happen for the African team in international football,from the 70s,80s,90s and the 2000s African teams have made name for themselves for causing major upsets in the World cup finals and also sent a big call out there to tell the World that African football has come of age.
Perhaps what is not possible to happen to an African team at the World cup finals again is the comic participation of Zaire in the 1974 Fifa World cup in West Germany as the first sub-Saharan African country to be at the Fifa World cup conceded fourteen goals in three group games which all ended in a defeat against Scotland(2-0),Yugoslavia(9-0) and Brazil(3-0).There is no way any African team will undergo the same world cup faith again.Yes.
However the following can happen again at the world cup as African football has arrived: In 1982 Fifa World cup, an unfancied Algeria team shocked the World of football by defeating Karl Heinz Rummenigge ‘s West Germany at the group stage. Four years later in Mexico,Morocco became the first African team to top a World Cup group after a 0-0 draw with Poland and England and a famous 3-1 victory over Portugal in Guadalajara.
In 1990,according to the pundits,there came the game that strongly announced the presence of African football at international stage.It was Italia 1990 where nine-man Cameroon electrified the reigning World champions,Argentina whose play-maker Diego Maradona was already feeling at home in that tournament as he was a Napoli player.But it was Roger Milla’s Cameroon that won 1-0. Recently,in 2002 Korea/Japan,Senegal’s historic win over France is there for all to see.
The Africans did not just beat the reigning world champions but the reigning European and Fifa Confederations Cup champions as well and the fact that Roger Lemerre’s team had most of the players that won the 1998 World cup at home.What even made Senegal the darling team in the tournament is that it was their first ever World cup appearance and they beat a team that had three top goalscorers from three top domestic leagues in the world in the preceding season :Thiery Henry from the Premiesrship,Djibril Cisse from the Ligue 1 and David Trezequet from the Italian Serie A.
All the above historic victories for African teams in the world cup finals are testimonies that give Ghana no reason to have not even the tiniest of fear of Germany and Portugal when the 2014 World cup begins in June 2014.
What is needed is Unity,quality players,sheer determination and luck and the Miracle of Fotaleza awaits us.
By Gariba Raubil