By Jacob Ajom
Fireworks and jubilant scenes marked the end of the thrilling semi final match of the 2014 African Nations Championship between Ghana and Nigeria in Bloemfontein Wednesday night. Officials In attendance were 12, 560 spectators and almost three quarters of that number cheered endlessly for Ghana.
Either by arrangement or sheer happenstance, the majority of Ghana fans were stationed behind the goal post manned by Nigeria goalkeeper, Chigozie Agbim. They sang noisily, made catcalls, beat their drums and blew their trumpets all in a way to distract the Nigerian captain.
The penalty shootout took place at that particular goal post in front of Ghana fans. Their catcalls and senseless roars behind the keeper, perhaps, had an impact in the performance of the Super Eagles players in the penalty shootout.
It must be noted that most of those fans that rooted for Ghana Black Stars are South Africans. Ghana played all their matches, up to the semifinal duel against Nigeria in Bloemfontein. They formed a large support base. This was enhanced by the fact that some of the locals were still pained for the fact that The Super Eagles eliminated the Bafana Bafana in the group stage. Most of South Africans have not forgiven the Nigerian team for that. So the game against Ghana provided an avenue for payback time.
The booed every move by the Super Eagles and cheered the Ghanaians even when they missed the ball.
Ten man Ghana team was galvanized by the hospitality of their host community and that clearly gave them a psychological edge. Ghana coach, Maxwel Konadu admitted after the match that the supporters were his twelfth player. “Support from the fans played a major role in our progress. They did everything for us and I thank them for helping us against Nigeria,” he said, adding, I will attribute today’s victory to them.”