Ghana remains in a celebratory mood over 24 hours after the national football team bundled Nigeria out of the qualifying phase for this year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Many Ghanaians and neutrals doubted the ability of the Black Stars to edge the Super Eagles in the final stage of the qualifiers after playing goalless in the first leg in Kumasi last Friday. But the team proved critics wrong by denying Nigeria victory in Abuja and booking their fourth ticket to the world’s biggest football tournament.
Many parts of the country witnessed delirious crowds with the joy radiating across the country – from the high and the low.
From the seat of Ghana’s Presidency to streets across the country, and from the parliament to radio and television shows and right onto the social media, the mood has been jubilant, though somewhat subdued by consciousness of COVID-19.
A video released by President Nana Akufo-Addo’s office showed the Ghanaian leader taking joyous dance steps in his office moments after the Black Stars’ qualification.
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia was also seen in the video with Akufo-Addo as both rejoiced over the country’s qualification for the finals of the global tournament.
29th March was coincidentally President Akufo-Addo’s 78th birthday, therefore making the Black Stars’ qualification an ideal birthday present.
Ghana’s qualification was also a god-send for Akufo-Addo as it helped divert the attention of Ghanaians, even if temporarily, from his government’s speedy enactment in parliament on the same 29th March, a bill to introduce the draconian electronic levy tax, or e-levy tax. The e-levy, a tax on mobile money transactions, had been vehemently resisted since it was first tabled by the Finance Minister last November.
Debates on the e-levy bill, which the government said it needed to revive Ghana’s economy that had recently been downgraded by major global ratings agencies, had been suspended last January, but was suddenly brought back to parliament on the day the national football team qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
It was passed within minutes, riding on shift of national attention that the match elicited among Ghanaians.
On the streets of Accra, the capital city, some motorists blared vehicle horns in celebration of the Black Stars’ qualification, just as jubilant fans also set off firecrackers in other parts of the city, including the ever-busy Nkrumah Circle area of Accra.
It was, however, open season on Nigeria and Nigerians in Ghana on major local radio and television networks, with most stations competing with each other on who would be nastiest in bashing Nigeria and Nigerians.
After one of the nation’s worst Africa Cup of Nations’ performances at the recent edition in Cameroon, Ghanaians now see the Black Stars to have redeemed themselves by beating Nigeria with a technical away goal.
‘The Eagles must be less than “apetupres” (birds in Akan, a Ghanaian dialet)! They couldn’t do what Comoros did’, Noble, a Black Stars’ fan, said of Nigeria’s Super Eagles.
Minnows Comoros Islands beat Ghana 3-2 to eliminate the latter at the group stage of Cameroon 2021.
‘Congratulating the Black Stars’, a fan who gave his name as Dwarf, however, noting that there was still room for improvement in the national team.
Smelly, another fan, warned Nigerians that ‘your 200 million plus population can never take what belongs to us (Ghana). Every good thing in your zoogeria was introduced to you by Ghanaians including football and even the fight for independence’.
Hailing the qualification of his country’s national team, Kojo Samuel said that the ‘Black Stars are on the move for the victories… more tactics for you the Ghana Black Stars with the blessing of God to you and Oman Ghana’.
From television viewing centres in the popular Osu-Oxford Street suburb of Accra, a roving reporter for a major local television network in the nation’s capital city, on live-television, mocked Nigeria and Nigerians as “small babies pretending to be big boys”. He said the Abuja derby sealed Ghana’s supremacy over Nigeria in football, music and entertainment, as well as in the “jollof war”.
“Jollof war” refers to a spurious debate over which is the better, between Nigerian jollof rice and its Ghanaian counterpart.
In Tema, Ghana’s port city, fans poured onto the streets shortly after the match in Abuja to celebrate the country’s qualification.
They expressed their joy over the hard work put in by the Black Stars to triumph over rivals Nigeria and take one of five tickets to represent Africa at the World Cup.
Across the country, there were not much crowd at drinking bars as many Ghanaians complain of dry pockets due to the country’s economic challenges. But, motorists blared their horns, and many blew vuvuzelas in celebration.
Ghana reached quarter-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. They probably would have been Africa’s first team in the semi-finals but for the dubious act of Luiz Suarez in the extra time of Ghana’s match against Uruguay. Deadlocked at 1-1, Dominic Adiyiah headed at goal and his effort was destined for the back of the net. But Suarez stopped the ball on the goalline.
Suarez was immediately issued a red card but Ghana missed the eventual penalty.
In the debut appearance at the tournament, Ghana was eliminated at the Round of 16 in Germany 2006, while they exited at the group stage in Brazil 2014.