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Soccer News of Wednesday, 6 February 2008


Ghana-Cameroon: fans in a frenzy

( -- "Cameroon against us in the semi-final? You're having a laugh. We'll win 2-0!" There is no doubt in Peter's mind, Ghana are going to tame the Indomitable Lions this Thursday in Accra. As you've probably guessed, this taxi driver is a staunch fan of the Black Stars.

A pair of mini football boots dangling from his rear-view mirror, he weaves his way through the streets of the Ghanaian capital behind the wheel of a racy little number with a dodgy hand brake, the windows down and the front right hubcap threatening to fly off at every third bend. "For a long time I played in goal for my neighbourhood team. Then when I realised I was never going to make it as a professional, I decided to drive this taxi."

Since the start of the tournament, he admits to spending more time than usual circling the streets around the Ohene Djan stadium during match nights. "I do it as much to savour the atmosphere inside the ground, as I do to pick up fares," reveals the dedicated cabbie.

The same passion is shown by Serge, a Cameroon supporter who has made the trip from Yaounde to cheer on his heroes during the climactic stages of this CAF Africa Cup of Nations. "I didn't bother getting tickets for the first round, it's not as interesting. But I made sure I booked a seat in the stadium for the semi-final and the Final. There's no way I can miss seeing our favourite Lions crowned champions," he beams.

Barbs and banter
We met Serge in a bar, where he was watching his team progress to the last four at the expense of Tunisia. It is in situations like this that he can use his imposing 1.95-metre frame to good effect.

While the majority of Ghanaians were rooting for the Carthage Eagles, he only had to stand up to get the crowd's attention. "You want to play against Tunisia because you're afraid of us. We're going to march on Accra and beat you this Thursday, and lift the trophy three days later." Nevertheless, there is not the slightest animosity in these exchanges. On the contrary, here the banter is always accompanied by hoots of laughter.

Also getting into the spirit of things is Eugen, who we find manning the reception desk at one of the city's bustling hotels. "Cameroon? Where's that then? No-one can stop Ghana getting their hands on the trophy. Admittedly the Lions are very physical, but they don't know how to use their brains," he says, to a chorus of cheers. "They'll already be on the plane back home before they know what's hit them."

With the crunch encounter scheduled to kick off at 17:00 local time this Thursday, people are already plotting ways to follow the Black Stars. "Don't tell my boss, but just like on Sunday evening for the match against Nigeria, I'm going to turn the lobby TV around so it faces the reception desk. That way I can work and take in the match at the same time," adds Eugen. As for Peter, you are sure to find him somewhere near the stadium: "I'm going to spend the whole of Wednesday repairing my car. I want it in tip-top condition for the evening of the final