There will be a number of guest posts throughout the world cup about various experiences watching Black Stars matches. The first is from Matt Muspratt who watched the Black Stars beat Serbia at a local spot in Kanda, Accra. Matt is an American who has lived in West Africa for the past two years – the last five months in Ghana. He drove by the French Embassy in Washington DC minutes after the 1998 World Cup final; watched Ronaldo’s 2002 final goals on a car-battery-powered TV in a northern Cote d’Ivoire village; and listened to Zidane’s 2006 headbutt on a radio in rural Sierra Leone. He wants to see Rooney, Dempsey, Drogba, or Gyan score in the 2010 final . . . on a flatscreen in Accra.
This morning, when asked who would win Ghana’s opening World Cup match against Serbia, my 13-year-old neighbor shrugged, “Only God knows.”
All of Kanda, Accra, and Ghana know now: Ghana.
It was an Ann Arbor college football Saturday morning. Except that it was Sunday, and instead of Michigan maize and blue, it was the Ghanaian red, yellow, and green flying on taxi trunks and SUV hoods. And ex-pats were dropping by Osu to snap up Black Star shirts across from Koala market.
Yellow and green shirt adorned, I was again at The Curve, a local Kanda spot, for the Ghana-Serbia clash — a critical match between what most believe are the teams who will compete with Germany for Group D’s two knock-out round slots. Winner takes a huge step towards advancing.
And Ghana won.
The Curve was banging 30 minutes before kick-off. Vuvuzelas of course. And whistles — the guy blowing had his fingers in his own ears. “Do you know what that is?”, a fellow patron shouted. “Yes! Balafon!” A traditional wood xylophone with calabash gourds lashed beneath — two sunglassed guys smashing away. I was making mental notes for my blog: “And then I’ll write about the wooden idol, and how those guys raised it up and poured Club lager over it . . . .”
SuperSport TV panned the Ghana locker room, revealing the clean, folded Black Star uniforms. The Curve erupted: “Appiah! Gyan!” No louder cries, though, than when cameras swept across Pretoria’s Loftus Verfeld Stadium and hung on a group of Ghanaian fans. All The Curve’s vuvuzelas, whistles, and shouts re-directed to the TV as the Pretoria fans shook a sign reading “Feel It Ghana We Are Here.”
Some 84 minutes later a Serbian hand ball meant Asamoah Gyan would be going to the penalty spot to give Ghana the win.
The Curve was at its extreme again. Gyan pounded it home. •
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