Ghana fans heartbroken, but still proud

2010-07-03 07:42

Ghanaians were heartbroken but still fiercely proud of their team

after the Black Stars exited the World Cup at the hands of Uruguay

yesterday.

“On Friday night, there will just be 11 stars visible – 11 black

stars,” a South African newspaper had predicted.

But a cloud descended on Johannesburg’s Soccer City after Ghana

fell agonisingly short of becoming the first African team to make a World Cup

semi-final.

In the dying seconds of extra time, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez handled a

goal-bound header on the line. He received a red card, but Asamoah Gyan – so

often the hero for Ghana in the tournament – crashed the resultant spot-kick off

the bar.

Ghana then lost 4-2 on penalties, ending their dream of reaching

the semi-finals of the tournament, which was taking place on African soil for

the first time.

“It’s a bit heartbreaking. We had this game,” said Abyna-Ansaa

Adjei, a writer from Ghana’s capital Accra, as she left the stadium with five

other Ghanaians, with whom she travelled to the tournament.

“But we’re proud anyway. Viva 2014!,” she added as the group, which

was draped in Ghana flags, burst into a chant of “Ghana Black Stars is a mighty

team!”

As fans left the stadium, a youngster with his face painted in the

red, green and gold of the Ghanaian flag, waved a placard scrawled with the

slogan: “Who says black stars can’t shine?”

“They lost. We can’t do anything,” said Eric Akagni (22), an

amateur Ghanaian footballer, who came to South Africa to try to get into the

local premier soccer league because competition at home was too fierce.

Soccer City was awash with Ghana flags and supporters tooting the

tonal equivalent of “Gha-Na” on their vuvuzelas. Some 84 000 people attended the

game, the vast majority backing the West African nation after the first-round

exit of every other African side.

When Uruguay missed a penalty, the crowd erupted, and some

supporters covered their faces when Ghanaian players stepped forward to take

their spot-kicks.

It was not to be, but the way South Africans got behind the team –

referring to them as Baghana Baghana, in a twist on the nickname of the national

team Bafana Bafana – made Ghanaians feel special, said Adjei.

While fans in the stadium were stoic, some elsewhere were left with

a bitter taste in the mouth over the nature of the defeat.

“I’m not sad, I’m very angry,” said Sonia Kwami (35), who watched

the game with a group of five Ghanaian friends in London. “I am very proud of

Ghana ... we played fairer and we played soccer better.”

Kwami was convinced that the ball crossed the line before Suarez

palmed it away, and called on South Africans to boycott the Uruguay-Netherlands

semi-final, set to take place on Tuesday in Cape Town’s Green Point

stadium.

Some fans chose to blame Gyan for missing the penalty kick that

would have seen Ghana through. But most sympathised with him, blaming the

pressure of an entire continent’s hopes for the miss.

“Ghana was so close to the semi-finals, missing it literally by

inches,” one fan wrote on Ghanaweb.com. “Don’t blame the coach or Gyan. They

made Ghana proud and the team is so young.”

The ANC also weighed in, praising Ghana for hoisting “the flag of

the continent high” by getting to the quarter-finals.

“The Black Stars of Africa have proven ... that Africans can

perform well in international football,” the ANC said in a statement. “We are

proud of you (Ghana) as individuals and collectively ... for the best

performance as an Africa team, in this tournament.”

 

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