Confession: I just couldn’t do it
I couldn’t bring myself to write after our defeat against USA, amidst the feel-good motivation of Me Firi Ghana’s already exceptionally-successful #LetsGoalGhana campaign. Any spill from my downtrodden dreams and bruised emotions would have been profusely negative and contrary to the Let’s Goal Ghana message.
You see, like most I was disappointed.
Disappointed in what I thought was a team selection which was arrogant and disrespectful to the USA team in equal measure.
Disappointed in finding our foundation of defensive discipline blown away in seconds – both from kick-off, and from the restart of the match after we had gotten back into the game.
Disappointed that we had seemingly gone from being seconds away from becoming the first African nation to enter the World Cup semi-finals, to potentially being on the plane back to Kotoka after only our second game.
Disappointed in wrong decisions being made during a game where the USA were there for the taking – wrong passes, wrong runs, wrong shots. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
And after watching Germany, World Cup specialists, dismantle Portugal effortlessly…well, things looked very ominous for us…
In disappointment, one tends to seek inspiration. And my inspiration was found in the neck of the official Ghana football kit. Embroidered on it is the following message: ‘Stars represent hopes, dreams, legends. This shirt earned its stars with strength and courage. It’s stitched with the pride of Ghanaians everywhere. It’s built on the belief that anything can happen. Believing is in our nature.’ Inspiration. Inspiration triggered hope, and fuelled the inherent belief woven into the shirt.
The belief that anything can happen.
Post-USA game, #LetsGoalGhana underwent metamorphosis. It became a rallying call, picking up the crestfallen and reminding them that anything is possible! Reminding the despondent that believing is in our nature! That we earned the stars on our shirt with ‘strength and courage’ – and if we applied those traits to this game, who knows what we could achieve? That regardless of how things looked, it was not over!
Optimism amongst Ghana supporters blossomed as we watched reigning champions Spain, former masters of football, get taught a footballing lesson by Chile.Optimism grew when we watched Costa Rica, anointed the doormat of their group, qualify ahead of England, Italy and Uruguay. And just before our time underneath the World Cup lights presented itself again, we almost, almost, saw lowly Iran put the mighty Argentina to the sword. This was fast becoming a World Cup where anything was possible.
So we too had right to believe anything was possible when we finally took on Germany. Just as we had believed anything was possible when we were first drawn into the group of death. Disappointment. Found inspiration. Triggered hope. Fuelled belief.
Where onlookers expected Ghana to arrive humbler, the Ghana team still entered the stadium as they always do: brave, loud, triumphant! They didn’t shy away from the monumental job at hand, to keep the German machine at bay. They didn’t quieten down their faith in fear of dashed hopes and the possibility of missed dreams. They came prepared to lay it all on the line.
And so it proved. Ghana crackled with attacking verve and creative class. The defence looked stronger, more purposeful. Germany thought they were meeting a team willing to roll-over and die, accepting the fate that most had already written in the stars for them. But they didn’t prepare themselves for Black Stars hungry to shine brighter than ever on the footballing world’s grandest stage. Disappointment. Found inspiration. Triggered hope. Fuelled belief.
The pale imitators of the team we know and love had not made their way to the stadium this time. The real Ghana finally showed up on Saturday. In front of a viewing population of millions worldwide, the great entertainers of the World Cup turned up. And we gave the Germans a game. We gave them the shock of their lives. Where last tournament we granted them three points, this time we shared the spoils with one of the World’s best.
Following the draw, social media timelines effervesced with plaudits, praise & pride. Profile pictures proudly dripping in red, gold and green hue. Finally, we had arrived. The Ghana team, just like myself and the hopes of many of Ghana’s supporters, needed to get lost for a while before it was able to find itself again.
Now, as the dust settles in Fortaleza (after we produced what many are proclaiming to be the best match of the tournament so far) instead of disappointment in defeat, you have Ghanaians disappointed that we didn’t beat a team with legitimate claims to win the World Cup this year! Can you imagine? Our story has changed. Our objectives have shifted. Disappointment. Found inspiration. Triggered hope. Fuelled belief.
One more chapter of this group remains – let’s see how we write it. Be grateful, however, that in a game where most people didn’t give us a chance, and many Ghanaians had come to with little hope, our Black Stars have managed to give us our Licence to Dream again. For our third and final game in this Group of Death, let’s finish the job. Let’s shock the world again.
Let’s Goal Ghana!
Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)