Barely a week into the 2018 Fifa World Cup, the tournament is already contending to be regarded as possibly the best Ghanaians have had in years. Never mind that it’s the first in four editions of the showpiece that Ghana’s national team, the Black Stars, haven’t appeared at; that fact has done very little to ruin the show for people this side of the Atlantic.
Russia 2018 hasn’t disappointed, even with the first round of group games not quite exhausted, enjoying high ratings for sheer drama and entertainment value. Games have been won at the death, others decided by wide margins, and still another a classic tied at 3-3, while a number of favourites have been stunned on their debuts.
All of these Ghanaians have enjoyed to the max — and it doesn’t even feel like they’re peeping through the window this time. For one, the African representatives haven’t given us much reason to regret not seeing the Stars playing at the Mundial: Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria have all played thus far and lost, conceding a total of four goals and scoring none, with Tunisia and Senegal set to commence their own campaigns.
Whether or not Africa excels, though, the latest World Cup should provide a therapeutic experience for Ghanaians at a time when they really need no less. Many have been disillusioned with the beautiful game (such is the popular claim, anyway) — the domestic version, at least — after an explosive exposé by celebrated undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas mere days ahead of the World Cup blew Ghana football to smithereens, revealing a worrying rot that runs deep through its very core.
It’s triggered a top-down, government-induced, supposedly temporary collapse of the ‘system’, to be followed hopefully by a cleansing and rebuilding process that proceeds in the opposite direction. It’s still early days, of course, and the next few weeks — possibly months — should provide a clearer picture of what the long-term future holds for the sport in Ghana.
The ongoing event in Russia thus offers more than just a welcome distraction – even better, it could spark the revival of a passion that had hitherto been reduced to embers. For the month that a World Cup lasts, there’s never a dull moment, with even the uninitiated enjoying the ride, hence Ghanaian football lovers should emerge from that period with their enthusiasm boosted. And for those who actually miss Ghana’s presence (quite a number, if social media trends tell an accurate story), well, this might just be an inspiration to re-invest interest into the Stars’ dwindling fortunes.
A big, timely shot in the arm this could prove, one that Ghanaians are receiving without even feeling the emotional drain. No injection could have felt better, and that’s just how the Russia 2018 package should leave us all: so much better.
Last modified: August 13, 2018