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Giant of Africa indeed…

By Paul Bassey, in South Africa
Saturday Ghana did Africa proud by qualifying for the quarter final of the first ever world cup on African soil. Saturday, Africa, nay the world celebrated what was considered a welcome development in a world cup that has so far yielded  tears for a continent that pulled out all the stops to guarantee a hitch free hosting.

Saturday I saw the world celebrating what was considered a monumental achievement for a country that has qualified for the world cup, only twice yet.

This takes me back to 2006 and the world cup in Germany. I was in my car listening to a sports programme on Tv when someone said Angola should have allowed Nigeria to go, because Nigeria stood the greatest chance of doing better on world stage than Angola.

I remember calling into the programme to ask how well Nigeria had done since she qualified in 1994, 1998 and 2002. Senegal answered that question when at first qualification, got to the quarter final of the world cup.

For me the most endearing moment of world cup coverage came in 1990, when I was accredited by FIFA to cover the world cup in Italy. Then, we did not have to wait until Nigeria qualified before we covered the world cup. The story for us then, Sam John, Kunle Solaja, Chris Okogie, Fabio Lanipekun and Yinka Craig among other Nigerian journalists was that Cameroun got to the quarter final and it was sweet to walk the streets of Rome with your black skin on.

Saturday, that feeling returned as the world celebrated Ghana. Ghanaians were on cloud nine. The Ghanaian flag, well endowed with bright colours, fluttered with pride as the Black Stars helped to brush away our shame.

Tried as much as I could, I have not been able to join the party, not fully. I have stopped so many times to ask myself what is really wrong with us? How come Senegal could get to the quarter final at first attempt? How come Ghana stands a chance to make it to the semi final only at second attempt, yet we have gone there four times, with the best players you could think of ( Class of 1994 ) yet we have nothing to show for it?

Did the great Pele make a mistake when he thought Nigerria was the country most likely to win the world cup for Africa?
Now we are calling on Ghana to represent us well, yet we pride ourselves as being the giant of Africa. Giant indeed. Every Ghanaian interviewed on this achievement uses the opportunity to rub it in, how Ghana was the first country to gain independence, the first in Africa to win the FIFA Junior world cup and so on.

When we said the youth should have been blooded and test run in Angola, no one listened. Ghana did and those boys have now matured to strut on world stage.

What millions of naira could not do, patriotism and dedication is doing it for Ghana. Front row at the world publicity market. Saturday and Sunday all the networks world wide were trumpeting Ghana and nothing else.

During the commentary, goalkeeper Kingston was mentioned as likely to become the best goalkeeper of the tournament and I remembered Vincent Enyeama, forgotten, let down by his colleagues, sitting in his parlour in Uyo, watching the world cup on TV. What a sad experience.

No wonder somebody somewhere is praying Ghana should no go further so that comparisons like this are not made, and articles like this are not written.
Shame to bad people.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.