World Cup heartbreak for Africa?

SOWETO, South Africa — As the last jabulani ball kick shook Ghana’s net having gone past Kingston the celebrity/hero goal keeper of African fans, tears rolled down the cheeks of thousands of African spectators. At Soccer City in Soweto, the dying moments of the game between Ghana and Uruguay had been a chaotic fiasco. In the confusion that had ensued, with Ghana’s mounting pressure the Uruguay side threw everything in the way to stop Ghana scoring.

In the last moments the Uruguay defender had to use his hands to stop Ghana scoring the winning goal. The referee showed him the red card and awarded a penalty to Ghana. Ghana missed! Striking instead the cross bar.

After the miss the Uruguay goal keeper jumped so high as if to kiss the cross bar in appreciation, only touching it. The referee blew the whistle signalling penalty shoot out to determine the winner. Africa still had the hope in Ghana even at this moment.

But the resultant 4-2 penalty result gave the win to Uruguay, the vuvuzelas went silent for a moment, as if everyone had missed a heartbeat.   The African ancestors all across the continent must have turned, as Ghana was not going to make history for us all. Silence gripped audiences everywhere even those watching on big screens across Africa.

It was a sad day for the South African fans here. Earlier in the afternoon Brazil had been knocked out of the tournament by Netherland. When they are not supporting the Bafana Bafana, South Africans support Brazil, that is until the World Cup swept into town and brought Ghana with it. There is a local team in South Africa called “Brazil” as a nickname by the fans here. This is because of the style of dress and play, the official name for the team is Mamelodi Sundowns; their football if full of flicks and tricks, just like the Brazilians; for the Brazilian style of pedalada there is the South African equivalent known as shibobo; their national team has the same green and gold colours. The shirts have been on sale here for over a year now.  They are now all over the place you would think there was a Selecao invasion. They are every bit like all Africans across the continent; support the African teams, and when knocked out support the South Americans or Central Americans.

There was much support for Mexico here when they were in. Now that Brazil and Ghana are out of the tournament the support will go to Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. There must be some ancestral link with Africa. With South America hosting the next World Cup in 2014 in Brazil for the first time there is much to look forward to.

After the game last night the fans of all teams got together for a wild drink up in Soweto, and down town Johannesburg. It was to celebrate or to drown the sorrows. It did not matter. And the beat went on through the night. When asked whether she was celebrating or moaning, one young lady dressed in Bafana Bafana shirt just smiled and said “who is gonna know! In Africa we sing, dance and booze at weddings, funerals and parties. Cheers!” Then she blew her vuvuzela.

One thing is however definitely for certain; the VUVUZELAS will continue sounding!! The African fans and together with their visiting fans will continue to indulge in this once in a life time event. This will go on in high African spirit until the last whistle blows on July 11, 2010.

Photo: Uruguay’s Luis Suarez blocks Ghana’s goal with his hands, earning him a one-game suspension.