Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement to congratulate the Black Stars for their sterling performance in the ongoing 2010 “Vuvuzela” World Cup in South Africa.
Madam Speaker, on Friday 2nd July, 2010, the magnificent Soccer City Stadium in Jo`burg, South Africa, became the waterloo for the Black Stars and by extension, Ghana and Africa, when Uruguay painfully defeated Ghana on penalties, dashing Ghana`s hope of getting to the semi-finals. By this defeat, Ghana and Africa lost the opportunity to make history by being the first African country
to get that far in the history of the World Cup.
Madam Speaker, the support for Ghana was overwhelming and the expected celebration would have been very extensive and perhaps, with devastating consequences, but for that loss of the penalty. Like the biblical story goes, “Canaan was glaringly visible but Ghana could not set foot on the land”.
Madam Speaker, notwithstanding whatever has happened, the Black Stars have through their blood and toil or their energy and sweat, placed Ghana on a pedestal which is unprecedented in Ghana and Africa's football history. Ghana was the only African representative in two consecutive World Cups, which moved beyond the group stages and also equalled the records of the pacesetters, namely, Cameroun and Senegal in 1990 and 2002 respectively, when they reached the quarter-finals.
It is for this reason that I invite all Ghanaians to join me to say bravo, mo neko ayekoo, congratulations to our gallant warriors, the Black Stars.
Madam Speaker, the Black Stars need special commendation, because connoisseurs, pundits, sports analysts commentators and many other sports enthusiasts were skeptical about the Black Stars in this tournament. The initial challenge was that the team was plagued with numerous injuries, especially the old experienced and reliable players. Essien's absence, for example, was seen to be a big blow and the entire nation felt very uneasy. There was heavy criticism of the team's preparation as compared to other participating and giant soccer nations.
Indeed, after the 4-1 defeat by The Netherlands in one of the trial matches, close to the commencement of the tournament, many felt that Black Stars were going to be the whipping boys of the competition.
Madam Speaker, other challenges which were equally worrisome were adequately resolved by the intervention of the Government, corporate bodies and individuals.
Madam Speaker, the Black Stars put behind them all these challenges, held
the bull by the horn, and have proved the skeptics and doubting Thomas wrong.
Let us continue to encourage our players to train hard and keep the faith. The time to start strategizing for 2014 in Brazil is snow.
Madam Speaker, i f defending champions, Italy could be shown the exit by Slovakia and other football giants like England, France, Denmark, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, USA, la Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroun, to mention a few, had to exit before the semi-final stage of the competition, it gives an indication of how far and fast football is advancing and how difficult it is for any country to claim supremacy in the game.
Indeed, Madam Speaker, Uruguary would be the first to testify that they were in a match of life and death.
M a d a m S p e a k e r, l e t m e e n d by commending various bodies and organizations whose diverse contributions have catapulted us this far. I would like to thank the Government under the able leadership of His Excellency Prof. J. E. A. Mills, for showing the needed political will. May I also thank corporate bodies whose donations, no matter how small, did a lot to support us to go that far.
Also, let me thank prayer groups, whose prayers rekindled the spiritual support needed, the technical and management teams of the Black Stars, the planning committees, the general Ghanaian populace and the people of Africa, especially South Africa, for the unending and deafening “Vuvuzela” sounds and unqualified support when the South African team was kicked out in the first round of the competition.
Madam Speaker, this is an achievement that can never be forgotten. As a nation, we have to give our team, our gallant warriors, a resounding and a heroic welcome for the feat they have chalked.