Monday, June 19, 2006

Quadrennial (World Cup) Sensitivities: hen Football Defies the Maths, or When David Met Goliath in Germany: Ghana 2, Czech Republic 0

Every four years, the world is awakened to the heightened and unique sensitivity that comes with twenty men running around after a small, leather ball. The timeless objective is to get that ball into that quintessential six-yard box area and score what ought to be a decisive goal.

Every four years, some succeed where others fail. Some arrive on a neophyte ticket and perform woefully, making it very difficult to return, whilst others just go for their last time.

Some call it the World Cup; others "the beautiful game".

I am far from being a football pundit, but it is fair to say that this year�s world cup games have brought about a number of surprises.

From Togo's surprise first goal leading to defeat of 3-1 for the Koreans once the Togolese lost their captain after a red card; to the rather lackluster Brazilian performance against the Croatians that saw them winning in the second half on a scoreline of 1-0 in their favour; the English scoreline of only "1" goal against the Paraguay's "0" to Saturday's quasi-brilliant display of a David-versus-goliath match that saw the debutante Ghana team, ranked 48th in FIFA rankings mesmerize international audiences by scoring an unexpected 2-0 against the Czechs, ranked second to the Brazilians who top the FIFA rankings.

If ever I believed that luck and flair could defy mathematics and technique, it was that historic Saturday 17 June, 2006, when minutes before the match, the skies opened up in the West African country of Ghana to deliver what one could only presage as showers of blessing from Above.

The Czechs might have had key strikers missing, but so did the Italians have one of their key players, Pirlo, being only 70 percent fit, yet managing to defeat Ghana with two decisive goals. Whether the Italian goals from the Azzurris were lucky goals or not, it was evident that Ghanaians--not to mention their national football team of the Black Stars--were crest-fallen.

Thankfully, the Black Stars, to borrow the words of a lawyer-cum-presenter on CITI 97.3FM -- one of the Ghanaian capital's leading English-speaking radio stations broadcasting from "the heart of the city", who wrote a poem for the Stars, arose and surprised.

Kudos for the Czech goalkeeper for speaking up for Asamoah-Gyan, Ghana's leading striker who scored the first goal against the Czechs within two minutes of the game, when he took a penalty before the referee's whistle, incurring a yellow card. Cech maintained that Asamoah Gyan, the Modena forward, took the penalty because he heard a whistle, which actually came from the crowd.

That's what I call sportsmanship. That's what I call great football.

But, ofcourse, I would say that: I am a very proud Ghanaian.

For the sake of posterity, I have captured the last ten minutes of the game on my digital camera, and uploaded it on my blogs, so whether you are an Accra by Day and Night visitor, or an international visitor to my Reflecting Eccentric World of E.K.Bensah II, or my indigenous Trials & Tribulations of a Freshly-Arrived Denizen, you are seeing this post in uniformity.

God Bless our Homeland Ghana!!


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Read the Guardian newspaper's account here: Ghana's young stars reflect the diamond at their heart
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