There is too much to say and feel about Ghana’s victory against the USA. Ghanaians must have gone to bed elated and that ecstasy will likely last at least until the quarter-final match against Uruguay. I went to bed with Asamoah Gyan’s left foot strike firmly planted in my mind and woke up with it even more cemented. What a moment?! The post-game “Waka Waka,” Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved,” and “Waving Flag” never sounded so sweet, the three-hour long journey back from Rustenberg could not have been more bearable, and Ghanaian fans or anyone draped in the red, gold, green flag were treated like a Black Star in Rustenberg and in Johannesburg. Beautiful. But the effort that was expended by the players was exemplary. This was a game with so much suspense and tension, the win or go home stage of the competition adding more to the stakes.
Ghana’s dream start courtesy of Kevin Prince Boateng’s superb strike was cancelled in the second half by a Landon Donovan penalty. And just when you got the sense that the US had the momentum, BAM, in steps Asamoah Gyan with the winner early into the extra time!!! The goal took a lot out of the Americans’ sails and but for the tiny issue of time remaining on the clock in extra time, Ghana was through.
Sports often have these moments where no matter how hard you try you just cannot wrap your mind around it. Those ‘what just happened’ moments.
Let’s start with Asamoah Gyan’s rocket of a left foot shot. He could easily have gone down for a free kick, he could have scuffed the shot, but instead he stumbled, determinedly regained his balance, took two baby steps and WHAM!!! I screamed GOOOOAALLLLLLLLLLL!!! And then I thought, what just happened? Are we really on our way? Two goals from open play? It must be a sign because we have been unable to find the back of the net that way previously.
Which leads me to another moment. First half, five minutes in, Kevin Prince Boateng was streaking down the middle with ball at his feet, a little body swerve freezes the defender for a moment, Boateng accelerates into another gear and placed his shot low on the ground beyond the reach of Tim Howard. Did that really happen? As I was watching it unfold, it was as though I was watching in slow motion with no expectations for him to score. And then out of nowhere, it was in.
I pumped my fists, I got up from my seat, I tried quieting my heart realizing there was still lots of time left but heart was enjoying too.
The Americans piled on the pressure in the second half and had a what just happened moment as well. Jonathan Mensah committed to the challenge early and fouled Clint Dempsey in the box. Penalty. Landon Donovan takes a splendid penalty and game is tied. US fans are the only ones enjoying at this point. What in the world? We’ve come this far only for it to be taken away? But ultimately it was meant to be and Ghana was not to be denied.