Anytime you invoke a religious symbol in describing a game, you are asking to be called blasphemous. Of course, when the religion is football, with hundreds of millions of disciples and no dogma, you have leeway. The symbols cannot be violated. A football (leather is nice but rolled up socks or anything round you can improvise with will do), white lines (it does not have to be white paint; shoes, cloth, anything to serve as a marker would be perfect), a field (does not have to be grassy, it can be concrete, clay, whatever is available), 22 men or women (again, there are many variations, from one v one to six a side, to whole villages divided). You want to play two 45 minute halves? Knock yourself out. But don’t worry if you can only last 15. You can take a break and continue later. Or you can play one looooong game. And oh, last but not the least, the goal posts. If you want three dimensional, you can have it but it is not a must. Again, shoes, stones, lines in the sand will work.
Ahhhh, if only life were that simple. Ghana’s Black Stars take to the field this evening in a game that is going to keep an entire continent glued to televisions. Yes, if you haven’t heard by now, it is serious business. If you ever wanted an express lane in any major African city, this may be the night because streets will be empty for at least 90 minutes. Why you would want to be driving for those 90 minutes beats me but to each his own I guess.
A win sends the Black Stars’ disciples into delirium. A loss, appreciation for getting this far. A win would be continued redemption for all the African teams that were knocked out. A loss, a chance to pray for more blessings down the road. 2014 maybe? Knocking out Uruguay would be sweet. Ghana would be the first African team in the semi-finals and to do it on African soil! A Movie director’s dream. A win and we get to continue hearing how much Africa has embraced the Black Stars. Sigh. A blessing or a curse? The spotlight’s nice so hey I’ll take the good press. A loss and we get back to stories of disorganization and failures. Goodluck, where art thou?
Tonight’s game feels right. It feels good. To borrow Phil Collins lines, “I can feel it, coming in the air tonight, Oh LAAWWDDD!!!” Of course, the last time an analyst who clearly favored Portugal went with his feelings he discovered that his had been misled. Feelings have a way of doing that to you.
Tonight’s game will be tough. If it is pre-ordained by the soccer gods, surely Ghana comes through. If the gods decide that the Brazil-Netherlands game is more exciting and they take the night off, then it is each man for himself. Two equally matched teams will take the field tonight, play a cagey match with each probing for that one chance to seal the game. I see one goal in this, two tops.
Go Black Stars.