Saturday, 5 June 2010

Ghana v Lativa

Never Ghana give you up...

Ghana 1-0 Latvia (05:06:10)

- Click on photos to enlarge image -

Compare and contrast; 51,760 packed into the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria in South Africa for the opening match of the World Cup against Serbia as opposed to a kick about in Milton Keynes in front of 8,000 against Latvia. Same thing no? The Black Stars pitched up here, trying to have funions 5645 miles from where they possibly should have been. Primarily on a mission to avoid the current trend of getting injured before the greatest show on earthtm.

Latvia for their part had clearly been instructed to only show a passing interest in this game and to only kick heels metaphorically. Aside from an injury to star turn Michael Essien, an alleged assault by Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac on Laryen Kingston at their Parisian training camp and a recent 4-1 defeat to Holland, things had been going swimmingly well for Ghana in the run up to this match.


Late change to the contract lads - no tackling por favor.

Faired Inkoom. Arsenal target Anthony Annan and imminent World Cup star Kwadwo Asamoah look on as Samuel Inkoom strikes for home.

Outside the Stadium:MK - which would appear to be in the middle of nowhere and only has Asda, turgid fast food outlets and an IKEA for company - the first of the afternoons several battles of culture took place. The local stewards were kept busy trying to move on 'unlawful' street vendors who were knocking out Ghana goodies left over from Germany 2006. "Trading standards" barked the jobsworths in orange bibs. "Freedom and justice" retorted the Ghanaians. We all laughed.

Sadly inside the ground there was no Ghanaian beer on offer. I was rather hoping to lay my hands on a drop of Star. When it gets hot in Ghana, which is quite often I'm guessing, this crisp and slightly pale lager hits the spot. It promises a million bubbles with every mouthful and I for one would quite like to be the judge of that. I was alerted to this beverage by the lads on the Cup of Good Hop blog. Go and join them in their quest to find 32 beers from all 32 competing countries in the World Cup. It's both informative and funny - what's not to like?

For the second English game running I hit the Paul Doyle Guardian jackpot. We have a very unofficial (he doesn't actually know about it) arrangement whereby he writes an actual match report and I get to enjoy the hospitality and make silly notes about irreverent goings on around me. He was quite a find today because there was lots of stuff going on which reduced my partner in crime Stuart Fuller and I to fits of frequent giggles.

To our immediate left in the press box there was a chap shouting screaming and a hollerin into a couple of very old Nokia phones. Mogabe, for it was he, works for Radio Focus. Focus? The bloke was focused alright. He is a bloody legend and if you're reading this at BBC HQ then make this lad part of your 295 team (that is a fact by the way - Ed.) coverage at the World Cup. Maybe substitute him for Martin Keown - nobody will notice.

That was not all that was amusing us, oh no. One seat down from Mogabe sat another hero in the making. Kofi works for the Ghana FA and to my mind has officially the best job in the world. He updates their Twitter feed during matches. Throw to Ghana, Ghana go close but no cigar, Latvia shot, these were the tweets that he was sending in between updating his Facebook status and relaxing. Follow @GhanaFA during the next few weeks, he is going to be one of the stars of the tournament. I want your agent by the way Kofi old chap - see me afterwards.


Kofi beavering away on Twitter or was it Facebook?

It's just a step to the left. John Paintsil and Derek Boateng do the timewarp again.

Next stop South Africa.

With Michael Essien out injured, there is a very real chance for a new African star to be born during the World Cup. I'm going to wager that it'll be Kwadwo Asamoah stepping into his £450 Nike boots. Everything went through Asamoah during this match, he pulled strings, showed of his array of dribbling skills and acute passing that along with Kofi and Mogabe will make him a multi-millionaire this time next year. Loud and clear: Kwadwo Asamoah will be a name you're all familiar with by the time En-ger-land go out on penalties in three weeks time.

Ghana won this particular match 1-0 with a late goal. It was just reward for their fans who'd had the P-A-R-T-Y in full swing all day. They came, they sang, played instruments and ran on the pitch for a joyous and harmless pitch invasion at the end. In return the stewards tried to stop them at their every turn. They frantically waved their arms about, tried to stop them sitting there or standing there. Have you ever been to a fiesta in Accra lads? I don't think so. Fair to say Milton Keynes had never seen the like.

Afterwards a fairly bored looking duo of Prince Tagoe and Asomah Gyan batted away questions from the assembled media alongside Ghana gaffer Milo. In absolute fairness to them, as soon as it ended they came alive and posed for photos and signed autographs for anyone who wanted them. Refreshingly, these lads don't own a pair of billy big boots. The fans and players of Ghana made a huge impression on me this afternoon. I now want them to win the World Cup. Good luck and God bless your homeland Ghana.


Paul Doyle of the Guardian listens in as Milo, Tagoe and Gyan bat away questions.

Not quite what I had in mind when you said 'romantic walk through the park' darling.

Life's a pitch. Ghana fans send their heroes off to the World Cup in style.

For lots more photos from the day CLICK ME.



- Feel free to comment below -

15 comments:

The General said...

Fantastic atmosphere created by the 19,000 fans!

A little video of our friend Mugabe can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNyvKbWh88k

Danny Last said...

Well worth a look folks. Mugabe would waltz away with first prize in any talent contest. A true star...

Kofi Daeshaun said...

Very fantastic read. Ghana rocks. I never get tired of the pictures for some reason. The young black stars would do us proud in South Africa.

Danny Last said...

Thanks a millon Kofi. Hey, you're not the Kofi from the Ghana FA are you?

Simple Pieman said...

Really enjoyed reading this Danny.

Tried to blag a press pass for MK Dons last season but was told I had to be registered with some agency. Will tick it when they have a cheap offer. I wasn't over keen on their prices for an end of season midweek match v Oldham Athletic. Ended up at Bedfont Sports in the Combined Counties League that evening - real football!!!!!

Danny Last said...

Cheers Pieman. Tickets for yesterday were priced up at £21. Thankfully, EFW were afforded the luxury of a press pass. Mr Fuller and I returned the favour by sticking a fist full of used fivers over the bar though in exchange for beer.

Bedfont Sports eh? Mmmm......

Kwabena said...

This read was worth my time. Watching the game on TV in far away Accra, I felt closer to the action with this article. Good one there.

Ghana hasnt impressed too much in these friendlies but we are hoping they will somehow manage to go very far in the tourney proper.

And Danny, this Kofi isn't the Kofi from the GFA.

Danny Last said...

@Kwabena - thanks for taking the time to leave a comment my friend - much appreciated.

I've been sent a few videos of Ghana fans taken by a mate who was at the African Cup of Nations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zknkFiwFGGs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vLChhsXIog&NR=1

That has made me want to travel out to the next ACoN which I think is in Sudan in 2011.

There are also some great photos from yesterday taken by Mr Fuller on his new camera:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/61081400@N00/sets/72157624210906030/show/

leo hoenig said...

I went to Ghana for the 2008 African Cup, and had a really good time.

I do recall there that one of the commentators was jabbering away, ten to the dozen into two mobile phones. I can't say if it was Mugabe or a relation of his

My postings from Ghana were at http://leohoenig.com/category/can-2008/

PresuminEd said...

Ya, didn't anyone tell the Bleck Stairs the bally thing starts soon? ;) ...and it's south of Ghana, not north :)

Meanwhile, if you came up with that heading, Daniel, you now need to join us in the International League of Shameless Pun Subs (example of our influence: Andre Ramshaw, Globe and Mail, Toronto - large pic and caption of a matador being savagely gored: "Point taken"...)

For many years now we have been on the run from the Federal Bureau of Humorless Headline Writers (based at the New York Times building in Manhattan) who, post 9/11, have shoot-on-sight powers...

Ya, my main mammary of Accra games is the Africans (in the matches I saw, mostly Ghanaians, Cote D'Ivoire and Mail people - Mali brought a fantastic full choir with many drums) singing ALL the time - as a soft Euroman, I must confess to ear-plugs that kept it down to a pleasant roar - even thru h/t... and only slightly louder when the gols went in :P And there, the stewards were PART of the madness :)

God bless African footbol!

Mills

Danny Last said...

@Leo - that was a fascinating read old chap. Some nice photos as well.

@PresuminEd - I'm all over the PUNderful headlines these days. I can't take the full credit for this one. I have a chap on the payroll called 'Big Deaks'. His only job of the week is to come up with a winning headline.

1860er said...

My visit to Ghana for the 2008 CAN was probably my best footie trip ever! Three weeks of good fun in Africa's #1 destination (can't really compare as I've only been to six or seven). Overwhelming hospitality, great music, beautiful women, good beer and spots (bars), friendly people all over...

Anyway, went to watch 12 out 36 matches, from the opener to the final, including all Ghana matches except for the 3rd place match.

Full report (in German) at http://www.1860er.de/2008/02/28/ghana-2008-africa-cup-of-nations/

All the videos at http://www.youtube.com/ronniecalypso

And plenty of pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/19904482@N05/sets/72157603917738159/

Danny Last said...

@1860er - All good mate. Lots to be going on with there.

The next African Cup of Nations is in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012 by the way. I'm off to buy a couple of Lonely Planet guides.

See you there!

PresuminEd said...

Ja, Herr Stoffl and I shall be dining out on our Ghana experiences (on red red and foo foo) until well after the Coupe d'Afrique des Nations 2K12... mmm, Gabon and EG; I understand EG is up there in the corruption Premiership but relatively safe for "Hey, white man! White man!" except for maybe some residual resentment regarding Mark Thatcher's 04 coup attempt ;)

To quote J Cocker: "Let's all meet up in the year 2000" (and 12)...

Meanwhile, my hat comes off the Big Deaks - tell him to watch out for long-winded Harvard grads; they will track him down :o

A beauty of a heading, yes, but coming with the grim realisation that eventually everything - no matter how valid or high-minded - comes down to R Astley:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/37069559@N00/4679175962/

In closing, I must get something of me chest (Big Deaks would understand). Kofi's absence from this thread means he must be re-christened: "Kofi Anon"...

Thank you and goodnight.

Mills.

Danny Last said...

@Mills - Kofi's absence from this thread means he must be re-christened: "Kofi Anon"

That quite literally, made me laugh. Hats off to you Sir.