We are hours before our match with Uruguay. The nation’s heartbeat is at breaking point. It’s the same Suarez, the same Uruguay, on the same Friday. Twelve years ago in South Africa, the gentleman handled a ball virtually in the Uruguay net, and got a sleeping referee whistling for a penalty instead of an outright goal with a red card.
A nervous Asamoah Gyan shot wide and missed, depriving Africa’s only hope of a semi-final.
2022, here comes Suarez again, 12 years older, seeking to impede Ghana’s progress into the play-offs. Ghana needs a win, but even a draw can take us there. As for Suarez, his team is badly limping, and only a win can save them. On the other hand, here comes a completely new Black Stars, pivoted by sharp-footed Kudus Mohammed. Let Ghana prevail in this game, and this will be a send-off for Suarez out of world cups.
In the meantime, let me stir memories with an excerpt from my write-up in 2010, ahead of the Uruguay match, entitled Our War with Uruguay. Excerpts.
I like the collective spirit of an entire continent hovering behind the Stars. Not only is the entire nation colourfully clad; Super Sports on DSTV, has called on the entire continent this week, to don the national colours of the Black Stars. The host country stands solidly behind us, as once again Africa’s last hope. But why not? The Uruguayans, indeed the entire ‘Guayan’ siblings, are simply dangerous, and have both slipped into the Quarter finals!
Watching a Ghana game has never been easy these days: phew! But I like a colleague’s candid response to the tension and suspense wrapping the entire nation. His solution is simple. Simply avoid watching matches involving the Black Stars. If you have a recorder, simply press the recording button, and watch the game after the score line is known.
Watching the match alone has been pronounced dangerous for the feeble-hearted. You and I find solace watching in company. That way ambulances can at least be called when necessary. It is even better at Osu, with large screens and in large company, where comfort prevails in numbers. But this Friday, watch out for the tricksters watching the game, sneaking back and forth to bathrooms to piss, just when the ball enters our ‘eighteen,’ or stepping out to receive a phone call just before Asamoah Gyan’s penalty kick. They are all tricksters, preserving their hearts. At this my age, I have learned how to watch the Black Stars. At home, the entire family almost took a nap after the USA equalized. The queen of the house, the daughter of my father-in-law, slipped to the bedroom, and never returned until she heard shouts of goooooaaaaall! Asamoah Gyan had healed her.
Throughout Ghana, hearts were pumping; restless spectators abandoned seats, paced back and forth, and checked the clock every second, awaiting the final blast. But see how the clock refused to move in the last five minutes of the game, when USA put us under siege, and threatened to equalize. If you watched Super Sports you must have seen Sammy Kufuor, former Black Stars captain, get up from his seat in the studio. Restless, he checked his watch every second, pacing back and forth. He became an itinerant commentator. But that is where referees become a nuisance. They never want the match to end when you are close to entering the quarter finals! But I like the trick played by Inkoom, who confessed after the game that his sudden collapse on the turf minutes to the end of extra time, was meant to delay the game. And why did the Coach stop the game and make a slow substitution with only two minutes to go? That was a doctor’s move, meant to reduce hypertension in Ghana.
Not a game for the feeble-hearted! But check the free running commentary run by spectators all over. It is a type of medical therapy, meant to heal wounds and reduce anxiety. In our game with Australia, we had anticipated easy goals, didn’t we, and I even predicted we would dance the Kangaroo? But we were disappointed, and drew with the Socceroos. Watching the game in a friend’s house, one lady spectator explained our dismal performance. He blamed it on Hans Adu Sarpei, who had omitted to wear his normal jelly curls that day.
Indeed she said, Sarpei’s sins of omission ‘had put our lives into danger(ous).’ How to watch the Game this Friday? Make sure you have eaten a full meal, just before kickoff. Never postpone meals till the game is over. Kotoko fans, with their eye on their favorite pounded stuff, will tell you that is not advisable, particularly if the opponent is Accra Hearts of Oak. Meals before the war with Uruguay is the trick.
But Tofiakwa. We are winning this war.This Friday, don’t go near the TV if you are feeble hearted. We are at war with Uruguay, and the faint hearted should avoid ‘putting their lives into danger(ous).’ But after all this, I believe there is a much simpler solution. Watch the game on a giant screen at the Cardio Center. Frimpong Boateng and his team will be on duty.
That was 2010. This is December 2022. Fortunately of unfortunately, the match is on a holiday, and cannot be avoided by the faint-hearted with the excuse, I couldn’t watch, I was busy in the office.
At the end of the day, let’s say kudos to Mohammed Kudus, and give Suarez a send-off ovation with Tweaaaaa!!
Prof. Kwesi Yankah