Ghana v Nigeria, Accra, (Sunday Feb 3rd 2009 5pm)
Ghana played their quarter-final game versus Nigeria on Sunday Feb 3rd at 5pm. We arrived very early at the stadium, and spent 45 minutes in a bar next to the ground. The noise and high spirits were tremendous. My friend, Jon, and I agreed that this was the most important game we had ever attended. I was at the 1968 English League Cup Final between Arsenal and Swindon, but that was less important than this match. Arsenal and Swindon was a parochial affair compared to this clash of African football titans. I have decided that the majority of Ghana supporters know little about football – they love to see their country win, but they are not knowledgeable. Anyhow, it seemed as if the whole country was cheering on Ghana.
I headed for one of the entrances at 4-35pm. There was no queue, but there were many men standing around. As I got close to the turnstile, I felt a hand in my pocket, but the pickpocket was too quick for me and I never even saw his face. I had lost nothing, because my pockets were empty.
I wasn't expecting a good seat – good, that is, from the football-watching point of view. But I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself high up in the corner above a goal. I was surrounded by Ghanaians, who were friendly to me throughout.
I watched the game in comfort. In the first half, Ghana attacked the goal beneath me and were the better, more positive team. But they went a goal down – to a clear penalty. A deathly hush descended as Yacubu lined up his spot kick. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Ghana equalized – Essien heading the ball in off a post. The crowd went berserk and cheered like crazy for most of the interval. In the second half Nigeria came out of their shell and really threatened the Ghanaian defence. Then John Mensah, Ghana’s captain, was sent off for an atrocious tackle. It looked bleak for the Black Stars, but ten minutes before the final whistle Junior Agogo scored. Another huge celebration. I embraced and jigged with the girl next to me.
After the game, we walked to our favourite Epo Bar and watched the 8-30pm televised match – Ivory Coast versus
Guinea in Sekondi. Ivory Coast ended up winning 5-0. Now, if they beat Egypt in their semi-final, and if Ghana beat Cameroon, there will be a dream Ghana v Ivory Coast final. As long as Ghana stay in the Cup, there will be massive interest and great city atmosphere. As soon as Ghana are knocked out, interest in the football will plummet.
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