Ghana’s senior national ream, the Black Stars, defied the odds as they eliminated Nigeria to book their ticket to the 2022 World Cup slated for Doha, Qatar.
Ghana had earlier in Kumasi, on Friday 25th March 2022, played a pulsating goalless drawn game with the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The Kumasi game was witnessed by a packed crowd never seen at any game involving the Black Stars since their play off against Egypt for a ticket to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
At the Kumasi encounter, the National Sports Authority, introduced for the first time in Ghana football, E-ticketing, which was well patronised by football fans, save its challenges but few., which the authority has accepted to better in the coming days.
On the game in Kumasi, the Black Stars took control of the first half with a performance far better than what Ghanaians lamented over during the Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
The Stars for the first time in their Afcon history could not win a single game. Painfully, the Stars lost to Comoros which a couple of years ago had made overtures to Ghana for “football lessons”.
The Nigerians took over during the second half of the game in kumasi;creating a couple decent goalscoring opportunities which their forwards sqandered to the chagrin of the Nigerian technical team as well as their teeming supporters who had filled part of the Baba Yara Sports Stadium.
So the game ended, with the second leg to be hosted at the 60,000 capacity Moshood Abiola Sports in Abuja.
Expectations were high, but the Super Eagles technical team were measured in the utterances prior to the game.
The Ghanaians were optimistic of pulling the chestnut out of the blazing fire far away in Abuja, right in the presence of the whole of Nigeria.
On the night, the Nigerians made their intentions clear at the early stages of the game, and it was obvious the Black Stars were in for a game of their lives.
One thing worth noting, is that player for player, the Eagles towered above the Stars, in terms of name but, football is not pkayed by names but by character, determination and discipline.
And the Stars demonstrated these qualities on the night.
Skipper of the Stars, Thomas Partey, who hardly loses a games any time he gets the opportunity lead the team, gave Ghana the lead in the 11th minute, silencing the whole stadium.
The goal, a shot just on the edge of the Nigerian 18 yard box surprised the Eagles shotstopper.
The Eagles, after conceding the goal, took the game to the Stars. Their incessant pressure was rewarded when the Stars defenders conceded a panalty in the 22nd minute. Eagles skipper Stroot-Ekong neatly converted the spot kick, pulling parity before the end of the first half.
Ghana helmsman, Otto Addo, quickly made three changes bringing on midfielder Elisha Owusu, forward Kwesi Kyere and defender Andy Yiadom for Jordan Ayew, Gideon Mensah and Fatawu Ishahaku.
These changes brought some stability in the the team as it fend off the attacking threats of the Nigerians.
The Eagles made some forays but the Stars were resolute.
After, 85 minutes of a scintillating and an uncompromising game, the referee brought proceedings to a halt.
Ghana were the victors as they had beaten Nigeria by the away goal rule.
Hell broke lose as the teaming Nigerian supporters could not fathom how Ghana, who they had written off, could come to Abuja, to bruise them in the manner it happened.
Dejection on the night, was written on the faves of the Nigerian technical team who could not move from the dug out.
The home fans, who could not withstand the humiliation vented their digarce by flooding the field and crashing everything they could lay hands and feet on.
The Stars had to quickly ran to the dressing room where they sang songs of praise to the Almighty in jollity.
By this feat, Ghana will be appearing at the mundial for the fourth time, i. e 2006, 2010 and 2014.
On the day when the president of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo, was celebrating his birthday, he could not but place a call to Otto Addo, congratulating him and thanking him and the entire team for the best birthday present they have given him.
In a country where qualifying for the World Cup has become a political ping pong, the president and supporters of his party saw this world cup campaign as one worth investing everything to ensure the country qualifies, as some members of the opposition, made teasing comments of this current government’s inability to qualify the nation to the mundial.
Ghanaians, most of who had lost confidence in the team, are currently revelling in the feeling that, the team will be making an appearance at the world football banquet in Qatar come November this year.
Finally, Nigeria would have to settle for the bitter fact that, when it comes to football, Ghana still has the bragging rights over the 6, because the Stars went to Abuja, and pulled the chestnut out of the blazing fire.