Scouting the next opponent's (food)
The Ghana House restaurant is located in a forlorn strip center at South Main and Hillcroft. But today it was easy to find — you just had to look for the Ghanaian-flag-draped PT Cruiser parked by the side of the road.
Once inside the restaurant I found a small group of nervous Africans, some Ghanaian, some Nigerian. “This World Cup has been a disaster for us,” a Nigerian said to me. “Ghana is our last hope.”
By “last hope,” he meant that Ghana was the only African country that could possibly advance to the knockout stages. This is no doubt a bitter pill for Africans. In the 1990s observers such as Pele predicted that an African country would win the World Cup before too long, and, back when FIFA announced that South Africa would host the tournament, fans may have dreamed that their moment of glory would finally arrive.
Instead South Africa has proven to be a Latin American playground, with Brazil and Argentina playing the most convincing and exciting soccer, and Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and Paraguay not far behind.
As the match began, it appeared that Ghana would shoulder its historic burden with style. The side played with grace and enthusiasm. During one breakaway a man sitting beside me jumped to his feet and shouted, “Show them West African football!”
But the closer they got to goal, the more Ghana seemed to lose confidence. The Africans around me moaned again and again as Ghana’s players hesitated when they should have been scoring. The room fell silent when Germany scored the match’s only goal.
But everyone cheered up again when the Serbia-Australia result was announced. Serbia’s loss had put Ghana into the knockout round after all, against the U.S.
I was happy to cheer on the Black Stars (as the team is known) as I ate my tasty, spicy meal of rice, roast goat, and plantains. But this Saturday will be a different story.