This World Cup tournament has been full of surprises. If there is one thing it has taught us, it is to expect the unexpected: goals scored in the first few seconds of a match; goals scored in the last few seconds of a match; teams defying the odds or exceeding expectations.
Nothing has been beyond the realm of possibility.
From the very beginning, the group in which our Black Stars were placed was labelled “the Group of death”. And true to that label, each match has been less about just win or lose and more about basic survival or final elimination. Yet each team in our group has managed — somehow, someway — to stay alive, to stay in the game.
Today, I guess one may say, is the “moment of truth”. Two teams will advance to the next stage of the tournament and the other two will go home, having played their hardest and hoped for the best.
The truth of the matter is that fate will have a hand in much of what happens today, just as it has had in much of what has happened in all of the matches the teams in this group have played. The final scores have not always been a reflection of the finest performances.
Such is the nature of sports.
There is a saying: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”
In my own nervous anticipation of today’s match, I have had that saying in mind. I have also had in mind the spectacular performances that the Black Stars have demonstrated on the pitch.
Regardless of the final results, win or lose, our Black Stars have consistently played their hearts out. They have brought to Brazil their own brand of fanciful foot work, boisterous supporters and enviable popular dance moves.
Our Black Stars have been nothing short of brilliant.
Today, I join the nation in wishing the Black Stars well. I am sure our collective anxiety will be palpable in the hours and minutes before the match. And I suspect we will, each of us, watch the match with our stomachs in knots and our hearts pounding back and forth between fear and confidence.
Today, I join the nation in praying to God that as the Black Stars align themselves on the pitch, the stars in the sky will also be aligned in our favour. Let us pray for the success of our national team, but let us do so with the knowledge that it is just a single by-product — a desired by-product, of course — but not one of the game’s ultimate goals.
Win or lose, our Black Stars have shown the world that we Ghanaians have a commitment to excellence; that we are determined and tenacious; that we will not give up easily.
Win or lose, our Black Stars have proved themselves to be worthy opponents, admirable and unpredictable.
Win or lose, our Black Stars have played the game well and they have given Ghanaians at home and throughout the Diaspora much to celebrate and be proud of.
And win or lose, those are the ultimate goals, the most difficult ones for any team to make.
Good luck to our Black Stars. May God continue to bless them and may He continue to bless our homeland Ghana.
The writer is the President of the Republic of Ghana.