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Sports Features of Thursday, 14 February 2008

Source: GNA

Hurray Ghana is the best in Africa - FIFA

A GNA Feature by Boakye-Dankwa Boadi

Accra, Feb. 14, GNA - The news of Ghana being declared the best soccer nation in Africa could not have come at a better time than on the eve of Valentine Day taking into consideration the lyrics of the song Ghanaian Spectators broke into when Egypt lifted the African Cup of Nations last Sunday at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium in Accra. The song went like this: "Nkrumah cup a wo be wia yi; Fathia baa ye a wa begye! Obaa ne Okunu yi o! Yen ye mo den ni," to wit "Nkrumah's cup that they came to steal, Fathia came and snatched it away. What at all should we do to these two lovers?"

Yes, and it came to pass that Ghana hosted one of the best tournaments in the African Cup of Nations' history between 20 January and 10 February 2008 and failed to win the cup.

Ghana went at lengths to ensure that everything went on well. Courses were organised for restaurant operators to prepare sumptuous meals for the officials and soccer fans that came. Four state of the art stadiums were provided at Kumasi, Accra, Tamale and Sekondi (KATS). Sleeping places were provided at world-class hotels and above all condoms were made available to cater for the baser instincts of men. Our Elders say if one has nothing to offer one's father-in-law one does not turn around to steal from him, but that was exactly what Issa Hayatou's Confederation of African Football (CAF) did.

In Akan communities if a person, who holds a very important office abuses his or her office he or she is criticised publicly. That is why during the celebration of the "Apor Festival" in Techiman, songs condemning such leaders are sung. It is in the same vein that Nzema Kotokohene can approach Otumfuo Asantehene while he is sitting in state and tell him "I have come to insult you for your commissions and omissions".

This Writer being an Akan, he would crave your indulgence to allow him to take Hayatou to the launder.

The first sign that Hayatou wanted to steal the cup for Cameroon came through the observation made by Claude Le Roy, Black Stars Coach. This man who has had a very long association with CAF and have coached a number of African national teams including Cameroon and won the cup, said Ghana 2008 was the only tournament that the host nation was not being assisted to win.

Indeed Hayatou came to Ghana with a masterpiece to steal the cup for Cameroon.

Snippet gathered from the Cameroonian camp indicated that when it became known that they were to face Ghana the players were heard saying, "c'est moment!" - this is the time. Apparently Hayatou must have told them that if they managed to qualify from the quarterfinal stage he would assist them to win.

Indeed he assisted them to beat Ghana. The Cameroonians decided to play it rough while Hayatou's friend, Moroccan Referee Abderrahim El-Arjoun, who handled the match, continuously waved 'play-on'. Hayatou ensured that Referee Arjoun was rewarded when he was again made the fourth referee in the third place play-off between Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. That extra assignment meant extra money for his pal. Hayatou was to betray his bias during the final match and the closing ceremony.

The cameras caught him when he showed his displeasure when the Beninese Referee Cofi codja awarded an infringement against Samuel Eto'o Fils for foot-up when Hayatou thought he had whistled against an Egyptian.

During the closing ceremony when Otto Pfister, the Cameroonian Coach, mounted the dais Hayatou looked elsewhere to avoid an eye-to-eye contact with him. When Dr Kofi Amoah, Local Organising Committee Chairman, lifted the cup to give to him to pass it on to President John Agyekum Kufuor he was hesitant. When he eventually took it and gave it to President Kufuor he refused to clap when President Kufuor in turn gave it to the Egyptian Captain.

The BBC Reporter in a typical British diplomatic talk noted in his report, "Blatter was happier than Hayatou during the final match". In fact the man was angry that his plan did not succeed.

This Writer has been this critical in order to send the right signals to all that Ghana would not tolerate such blatant abuse of office in the future. Our Elders say: "Se wo de ye wo; na se anye wo ya a, wo nngyae wo fa ye" to wit if they do something bad to you and you do show your displeasure for that action they would continue to do the same thing to you always.

How can one man come and break the heart of a whole nation? Now the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) says Ghana is the best soccer nation in Africa and the fourteenth in the world.

Below is the full list, (world ranking in brackets): 1. Ghana (14); 2 Cameroon (17); 3 Ivory Coast (24); 4 Egypt (29); 5 Senegal (43); 6 Nigeria (46); 7 Mali (46); 8 Guinea (47); 9 Morocco (48); 10 Tunisia (53); 11 Angola (64); 12 Zambia (65); 13 South Africa (70); 14 Togo (74); 15 DR Congo (75); 16 Algeria (77); 17 Equatorial Guinea (78); 18 Mozambique (82); 19 Libya (85) and 20 Ethiopia (86). The others are: 21Congo (87); 22 Uganda (93); 23 Zimbabwe (96); 24 Tanzania (101); 25 The Gambia (103); 26 Gabon (105); 27 Botswana (106); 28 Sudan (107); 29 Cape Verde Islands (108); 30 Burkina Faso (109); 31 Benin (112); 32 Mauritania (113); 33 Rwanda (114); 34 Kenya (117); 35 Namibia (119); 36 Burundi (122); 37 Eritrea (131); 38 Malawi (136); 39 Chad (143) and 40 Liberia (145). The rest are: 41 Swaziland (149); 42 Madagascar (150); 43 Niger (152); 44 Lesotho (156); 45 Sierra Leone (159); 46Seychelles (163); 47 Mauritius (166); 48 Guinea-Bissau (174); 49 Djibouti (176); 50 Comoros (193); 51 Central African Republic (196) and 52 Somalia (197). 14 Feb. 08