Monday, July 12, 2010


The naysayers and Afro-pessimists had a field day in the run-up to the World Cup, doubting the country's capability to host a succesful tournament of such magnitude. But from the Opening Ceremony, down to the moment Iker Casillas lifted the glorious trophy, South Africa delivered a blissful 30 days. The Opening match was a fitting thriller topped up by Siphiwe Tshabalala's screamer that set the first record-The first world cup opening goal scored by an African.
It was the same match that brought to the fore what will be remembered as one of the tournament's most discussed topics-the Vuvuzela. That little plastic horn drowned out all songs in the stadium, and all that could be heard was one monotonous sound akin to the rhythm of a million bees. So controversial was the Vuvuzela that some losing teams blamed it for their loss, claiming it hindered communication on the pitch. FIFA even contemplated banning it. But it has now become a multi-million shilling industry, with a foreign manufacturer setting up a Vuvuzela factory in- you guessed it- China.
When the Vuvuzela wasn't in the dock over losses, referees came under the spotlight over major decisions that cost several teams their places in the tournament. The most notable was Frank Lampard's disallowed goal for England when they were 2-1 down against Germany in the second round. The referee somehow failed to spot the ball which crossed the line at least a foot in, sparking fresh debate on the need for goalline technology. Other controversial decisions were Argentina's opening goal against Mexico, where Carlos Tevez was clearly offside, and USA's disallowed goal against SLovenia which would have won the game. Malian Referee Couman Coulibaly was struck from the FIFA list for remaining matches at the tournament and wasn’t seen again. Kinda reminds me of Kenyan referees.

When the whistle-blowers (no pun intended) behaved well, the Jabulani ball took the blame. The World's first truly round ball as claimed by makers Adidas drew a lot of flak for the way it swung mid-air, and lots of evidence could support the claims. England goalkeeper Robert Green somehow spit the ball when he could have done better, and so did Algerian keeper Faouzi Chaouchi who must still be wonderin how it slipped off his arms and into the net. Many shots that seemed headed on target somehow flew skyhigh, while some goals also appeared to be aided by the Jabulani Swerve.

Off the picth, one Octopus was stealing the show. Paul as he was named, predicted accurately all of Germany's matches. He went ahead to predict the winner of the 3rd place playoff and and the finals. Western Media glorified it as psychic, but one cant helped but wonder what it would have been called had the Octopus been in Africa. Witchcraft and voodoo comes to mind. Paul has since taken a well-desereved summer holiday off the limelight.

But the ultimate memory will be from the 2010 champions. Spain won their first ever world cup in a tournament held for the first time in Africa. It was also the first time that they had ever qualified for the finals, adding a juicy twist to a dramatic end of a very memorable tournament, and in more ways than one, a victory for beautiful football.


For Many Africans, though, Ba-Ghana Ba-Ghana will forever be our source of pride and encouragement. They may have been the youngest squad in South Africa with an average age of 23, but the Black Stars lit up the tournament in every match they played and doubled the drone of the Vuvuzela. Their achievement on the pitch brought Africa together in a way no other, er, thing would.

Goalkeeper Richard Kingson emerged from the shadows of an unused third-choice at Wigan to emerge as one of the best, or the outright best counting by the number of saves.

Defender Jonathan Mensah, at only 20, stood like the Rock of Gibraltar and literally risked his life against the assault of experienced world-class strikers.

Playmaker Andrew Ayew borrowed the football blood of his legendary father and terrorised defences as the World witnessed the birth of a future Michel Platini (if he can keep his head). Ayew Junior was good enough to keep Sulley Muntari at the bench, enough said.

Kevin Prince-Boateng shunned the nation of his Mother Catherine, where he grew up, and joined his fatherland's squad. He showed why Coach Milovan Rajevac wanted him so baldy, forming an almost telepathic chemistry which Prince and forming a key part of the beautiful football Ghana displayed.

The lone Ranger, Asamoah Gyan, was the classic number 9. Hustle, bustle, create chance, get chance, score. He led from the front-line like a soldier and was duly rewarded with a nomination to the Golden Ball. His missed penalty at the death of the quarter-finals against Uruguay denied Ghana a chance to create history by becoming the first African side to make the semis. But I'll reserve the vitriol for Luis Suarez, whose blatant handball blocked Dominic Adiyiah's goalbound header in the first place.

Bottom line, make way Brazil 2014, the Ghanaians are coming with fire in their eyes!