What is there to say after the match we just had against Germany. If I were a neutral I would have enjoyed the commitment of the two teams, the tactical discipline, the wonderful goal, the drama of following another match simultaneously and finding out who was going out of the competition and lots more. I wasn’t a neutral. So a few words come to mind. Difficult, suspense-filled and in the end triumph even in defeat.
As for suspense, there was plenty. I have never counted down the clock of another match that did not involve Ghana so earnestly. For as little as I know about the country, I have never loved Australia as much as now. I have heard it is a beautiful country with wonderful people. And none more so than the group that pulled a quick one on Serbia yesterday.
The match began with Germany showing their attacking intent. It was about half way into the first period that Ghana started making its presence felt but not before eventual goal scorer Mesut Ozil missed a seemingly easier chance than he put away after being left all alone with Richard Kingson. At half time, the job was half done. If the score stayed at 0-0 Ghana would be through but you could never rest easy.
Fifteen minutes in, unease. Ozil on the edge of the box, shot, GOAL. Silence. At least at my section of the stadium. German fans went wild and were expecting more. For the next 30 minutes attention was divided between the action at soccer city and that in Nelspruit. Cheers for Australia goals and sweat anytime Serbia attacked and came close to scoring. Add confusion because few were sure as to what would happen if there was a high score draw and it was more tense than transmission cables. Would Serbia go through or Ghana would? No matter. Ghana lost. Australia won. Ghana through. Cue jubilation in stadium and relief for the continent. Whew. One out of six. Not great but why be fussy at this point?
I cannot even imagine how much effort the players expended. For 90 minutes, you could see them giving their all. They were fighting for every ball and were playing as a unit. Defensively, it was a thing of beauty. Their play was like a symphony of which a conductor named Mourinho would be proud. They were rarely caught out of defensive position. Offensively, they were efficient, but for their finishing. Kwadwo Asamoah with a clear sight of goal, only keeper to beat. Blocked. Same for Dede Ayew who also had another chance early in the match but did not trust his right foot. But kudos to the no slouch Germans who made it extremely difficult. There is a reason the Germans have never been knocked out of the first round of the World Cup.
We meet the United States next in what should be the easier half of the bracket. This made for a fascinating exchange after the match with Coach Milovan Rajevac remarking, “it was better to lose today than to play draw. If you look at the next matches, we’re more than happy.” Smart aleck journalist asks, “was your tactic to lose today?” Laughter, smiles, jokes all around and a knowing “sure” from the coach. Ahhh, has a loss ever felt better?
Leaving me with one final question for Milo. Whatever you are cooking, does it have to have palpitations as an ingredient?
Go on and carry the torch, Black Stars.