Glorious, glorious Ghana
- 23 Jun 06, 12:22 AM
NUREMBERG - I'll come clean straight away.
I went on holiday to Ghana last year and I loved the place to bits - even more so the people.
So this afternoon at the stadium in Nuremberg I was desperately hoping they would beat the USA and ensure that their first World Cup resulted in at least qualification fron the group stage.
What I was not expecting was a call from a Ghanaian friend of mine 90 minutes before kick-off asking if I could influence the music played over the PA system at the stadium.
Highlife is a popular type of music in Ghana and John called me up to ask whether I could ensure some would be played before the match.
Clearly he has a very exaggerated sense of my importance.
As with a few of the African teams that I have seen, Ghana's numbers were swelled by support from elsewhere and plenty of Germans became Ghaniains for the day - wearing shirts, scarves and flags as though bona fide children of the fair city of Accra.
The actual Ghanaians in the crowd were understandably small in number but vocal, colourful and a credit to the tournament.
To be fair, the Americans were greater in presence and really did try to get behind their team - but without question the day belonged to the wonderful people of Ghana.
Afterwards in the mixed zone - the area where the press meets the players - the Ghana players were thrilled with their achievement.
In addition to the actual squad several prominent members of the Ghana government passed through the mixed zone - the Minister for Education, Sciences and Sports, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, for example, was more than happy to discuss his country's achievement.
Michael Essien, banned for the Black Stars match against Brazil, gave several interviews in an incredibly softly-spoken voice that contrasts starkly with his playing style.
Afterwards I bumped into a old friend who works for Metro TV in Ghana and ended up giving an interview on how I thought the Black Stars would fare against Brazil.
"Should Ghana just go for it against Brazil," asked Yaw.
"Umm, easier said that done," I replied.
As I left the ground I grabbed a quick word with Ghana football legend Adebi Pele. He is a great bloke and happily signed a 'Fletch and Ricco' Sport relief T-shirt.
He looked thrilled at his side's progress. No question, it was a great day for Ghana.