Every Sunday many Ghanaians grace the halls of churches to remember the Lord and give thanks for life’s blessings. Wednesday night, the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg will serve as the venue for such thanks for many a Black Stars player. A little over a month after exiting the World Cup, Ghana takes on South Africa in a friendly that is as much about the past as the future.
The Black Stars will play in front of an audience that embraced them as they carried Africa’s hopes. The match is also about those players that represented the country then but may no longer be in coach Milovan Rajevac’s plans. Stephen Appiah, Sulley Muntari and Matthew Amoah headline the list of absentees for this friendly. But even as the squad evolves, it is never too late reminisce on South Africa 2010.
Let’s start with the painful or as it were, THE END.
“Oh ASAMOAH!” is how a friend looking sullen and with his head in his hands put it a day after losing to Uruguay. Need I say more? It was probably the most painful defeat we’ve known because of the occasion and the possibilities of making history. And yes the 6-1 Bochum disaster and the Tlemcen debacle pale in comparison.
Of course, a few days before that terrible feeling, Ghanaians were on clouds we didn’t know existed, the high propelling us to dream of destinations unimagined. A semi-final berth against the Dutch or Brazil was within reach and we all contemplated it. Could it be? It couldn’t but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to celebrate Asamoah Gyan’s stunning left foot strike against the USA in extra time. Every time I watch that goal on television, I want to dance like Gyan but find my dancing skills are more limited.
That game against the USA was the game that almost wasn’t though. A 1-0 loss to Germany in the last game of the group stages meant we had to rely on the resilience of Australia in beating Serbia. Has a loss ever been celebrated as much as that one?
And while our listless display against Australia was quickly forgotten our win against Serbia was rousing and put us in position to come out of the group.
These memories will always remain with us but will recede and hopefully be replaced by even sweeter ones.
Soon Ghana will embark on journeys to African Cups of Nations in 2012 and 2013 as well as the World Cup in 2014. May the lessons of South Africa be learned and improvements made so that the next generation of footballers grant us the pleasure of fulfilling our wildest dreams.
So, win, lose, or draw against the South Africans, let’s remember their hospitality and may Asamoah Gyan do the Samba in Brazil.