Tag Archive: World Cup

All that separated Ghana from a ticket to the Semi-Finals was a penalty spot kick awarded at the very depth of extra time. And when it seemed like Ghana would make history by being the first African team to make it to the semi-finals, Asamoah Gyan blasted all of Africa’s hopes onto the crossbar.

It happened so fast that I didn’t even get to hold my breath. I couldn’t savor the tension or flirt with ecstatic thoughts of reaching the semi-finals. All I remember were four-worded expletives leaving my mouth and being trapped in a delusional nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. And it’s all Asamoah Gyan’s fault.

I was never confident in Asamoah Gyan’s penalty-taking capabilities. Even though he is a good striker in open play, his penalties have always been sketchy. People say I’m being negative but let me recall that this is the same striker that missed a penalty against Czech Republic to go two goals up four years ago.

Yes, I know it was Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez that villainously handled the ball and denied us the winner but he got what he desereved with a red card. To tell you the truth, I don’t blame him for cheating because it’s natural and I’ve seen a lot of players handle the ball on the goal line especially when the pressure mounts up. It’s not right but that doesn’t mean that they won’t do it.

What I didn’t expect was Asamoah Gyan to miss the most important penalty in his career. Penalties can be missed but I believe the statistical odds are with the player behind the ball. In Gyan’s case, it was supposed to be a game-winning penalty but he missed it. Seriously, ask yourself- did you think he was going to miss it? I sure didn’t. Ultimately, we shouldn’t have been in that situation.

What’s even worse is that the psychological baggage from the penalty miss carried over to the rest of the Ghanaian squad and affected their performance. John Mensah’s horribly tame effort at the penalty kick. Adiyah’s inexperience and opening of his body tipped off Uruguay goalkeeper into making an easy save.

But overall, Ghana has had a good run at the World Cup and there is no use in dwelling on what could have been. If only that idiot Suarez didn’t handle the ball on the goal line and Asamoah Gyan didn’t miss that penalty. Ok, I’ll end it here. Just like Ghana’s World Cup campaign.

It’s that time of year when the world is united by the  beautiful game that takes the center stage every four years- the FIFA World Cup. The tournament itself symbolizes  unity and sheer excitement. I love the fact that some of the best teams around the world come together to exhibit their skills, determination and championship quality to win the most prized trophy on earth.

Obviously, I am passionate about the World Cup especially since it is taking place in Africa and that Ghana’s Black Stars have qualified for the second cosecutive time. I am passionate about the Vuvuzelas, the  stadium horns that joyously blow their unique African flair onto the fields (Even, though they are actually noisy). I am passionate about the Jambulani soccer ball which represents the time of celebration. The main point is I have always been passionate about every aspect of soccer. The intensity, the pace, the Premier League, Arsenal, my favorite players, and the MLS (Yes the MLS).

Unfortunately, in the United States, I feel like I am usually alone in my passion for soccer and can’t have anyone to genuinely share that passion with. Let’s face it, in the U.S. traditionally, nobody cares about soccer.

But when the World Cup comes around, suddenly everyone is a soccer fan and starts to ride World Cup bandwagon all of a sudden. To the posers, if you didn’t care about soccer before the World Cup why are you all hyped up after four years?

I won’t make harsh accuastions just yet. One reason why soccer is not big in the U.S. is  mainly because of one reason. Sour grapes- the U.S. have never been able to dominate in soccer and they won’t, not for a long time at least. Ever since the birth of the World Cup, the U.S. have a really poor record. They have the most of 22 losses in World Cup history, failed to reach group stages in their own host tournament in 1994, finished dead last in the France 1998 World Cup and have always been second best to Brazil in the CONCACAF federation.

As a result, there is not a lot of support behind the U.S. team. Even why bother? Especially when they dominate in other sports such as  basketball, baseball and football then crown themselves “World’ Champions” when they only play against each other in their domestic leagues.

And if you want to say soccer is making headwaves in America since David Beckham’s $250 million signing to L.A. Galaxy in 2007, then that’s that sad. I think what genuinely sparked a revolution in U.S. soccer was when Mia Hamm and the rest of U.S. Women’s national squad won the World Cup in 1999.

And the men’s side can do just as well because the U.S. national team is actually good. The team is, according to the FIFA World Rankings, ranked 14th in the world and first in CONCACAF. and has appeared in the last six FIFA World Cups

The team’s best finish in the FIFA World Cup came in the inaugural 1930 tournament where it finished third. More recently, They also reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup after being kicked out by Germany. The United States has won the CONCACAF Gold Cup four times in ten tournaments, second only to Mexico. The USA had enjoyed a 58-match unbeaten home streak against CONCACAF opponents until July 2009, when arch-rivals Mexico thrashed them 5-0 in the final of the Gold Cup.

The team reached its first FIFA international final at the 2009 Confederations Cup, beating reigning European champions Spain 2-0 to advance to the finals but suffered a disappointing 3-2 loss after Brazil staged fiery comeback. A lot of U.S. fans knew about soccer that day when they beat Spain 2-0 that day but I didn’t hear much coverage from ESPN after that 5-0 drumming from Mexico. I’m just saying,  you are not a real fan of a team if you only support them when they win.

If you want to be a real American  soccer fan, you have to support the MLS, know at least 5 players from your national squad and that these are people that represent you at the World Cup and try playing soccer once in a while. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it but don’t just wait every four years and pretend you have some appreciation for it when you actually don’t. It makes no difference.

Michael Essien

Ghana captain and Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has been ruled out of the World Cup due to an injury  he picked up in Decemeber. Most people believe that is a dampening blow to the Black Stars’ hopes of the tournament in South Africa. However, I don’t see it that way. 

Essien hasn’t been fit since his injury in December but was still in the squad in hopes he would recover in time for the World Cup.

Unfortunately, the midfielder has not been able to spring back into form according to the  Ghana Football Association.

“An evaluation by a combined team of medical experts from the Ghana Football Association and Chelsea Football Club revealed that Essien will not make full recovery until the end of July,”   

Even though Ghana has lost a great player, I still believe  Ghana has the quality to do well in the World Cup at least.

Ghana has Inter Milan midfielder and UEFA Champions League winner Sulley Muntari. The 26-year-old is a quality player and impressed in the 2006 World Cup after he fired home a powerful strike against Czech Republic. With a total number of 16 caps. He’s been Ghana’s best player with numerous assists and a goal against Bosnia in a match friendly in March 2010.

Newcomer and former German forward  Kevin-Prince Boateng, who currently plays for Portsmouth, was named by the Serbian coach after deciding to switch nationality. He has great potential and will from a great striking partnership with Asamoah Gyan.

The Portsmouth player was born in Germany, who he has represented at under-21 level, but has a Ghanaian father and his uncle has played for the Black Stars.

Ghana Coach Milovan Rajevac also named John Mensah in his preliminary squad. Mensah is a top defender and a rock in the heart of the Ghanaian defence.

 “You just see Mensah and you look and think, ‘That’s a bit of quality’. He has got that arrogance that top players have got, he is quick, powerful, he jumps, heads the ball well, he’s tough. That’s why he is captain of his country.” Sunderland manager Steve Bruce said.

However, Mensah is heavily and inconveniently injury-prone and has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career at Lyon and Sunderland. He has been haunted by a calf injury arising from a physical complication which has plagued him in recent years.  Ghana is just lucky he is currently fit for this year’s World Cup. For now.

But that’s the least of Ghana’s troubles. Injuries aside, the main problem is that well, Ghana sucks right now.

With a  loss to Bosnia in March 2010 and a demoralising lost of 4-1 to Netherlands, Ghana is not looking good for the World Cup. The last two games were only friendlies but I believe they are still reflective of the performance Ghana will show at the tournament. There’s only a couple days left and the coach and the rest of the squad have to step up.

“Whatever happens, we cannot drop our heads, we have to continue with our preparations.  We have a tough group, a very tough group. But we have to do well and play our football. The most important thing is for this group of players to be healthy and ready,” Rajevac said.

Better be ready soon.