Excitement is building as Ghana prepares to face Uruguay in the quarterfinal of the football World Cup Friday in South Africa. Fans in many African nations are rooting for the Black Stars.
It seems that all of Africa celebrated Ghana’s qualification for the quarter finals of the World Cup. And many are hoping the Black Stars will beat Uruguay on Friday to become the first African team to qualify for a World Cup semi-final.
A school teacher in Blantyre, Malawi, James Manda, says Ghana succeeded because it played better than the five other African teams that qualified for the Cup.
“Ghana impressed me the most,” said Manda. “They could defend as a unit, play as a unit. That is why they could qualify better.”
Fellow Blantyre resident Iswell Chinkwezule said the victory was even more special because the World Cup is being held for the first time in Africa.
“Having it on the African soil, it is something that is only once in a generation,” said Chinkwezule.
Zambian architect Mwamba Mulenga, like most Africans watched the match at a café not far from his home in Lusaka. He praised South Africa’s organization of such a major event.
“Personally, really I did not expect South Africa to pull it off well,” said Mulenga. “But they did because when you look at the infrastructure, the infrastructure is excellent. It was a good job.”
Miles Zulu, who works for a media station in the Zambian capital, agrees.
“It has made us proud and I think it is a good opportunity for the Africans,” noted Zulu. “It has been successful so far and no complaints have been heard about South Africa hosting the World Cup and everybody has been praising this, including the FIFA president.”
Blantyre homemaker Chisomo Chibwana hopes the tournament, which cost billions of dollars in preparations, will encourage the development of infrastructure elsewhere on the continent.
“When you talk of hotels being built, issues of infrastructure, it is bringing us such a hope that our leaders are being opened in their eyes that we surely need to do this,” said Chibawana.
The new World Cup ball, called the Jabulani, has caused controversy. Some players and coaches say they do not like it because its seamless design makes it unpredictable when kicked.
But Lusaka resident Failot Thambo disagrees, saying the ball has improved the game.
“It is different from the previous balls because when a player kicks it, it is revolving according to how the player has done the job,” said Thambo. “It is very fantastic.”
The most controversial accessory of this World Cup by far has been the vuvuzela, the monotonal plastic horn that in a full stadium sounds like a hive of angry bees.
Some players and television announcers have complained the horns drown out the game and want them banned. But many fans have embraced them.
A Zimbabwean lawyer living in Harare, Mandla Jama Sibanda, believes the vuvuzela is here to stay.
“That is an African product that has taken the soccer fraternity by storm,” explained Sibanda. “I am told it has taken Southeast Asia by storm, China by storm, Europe, and all over the world. We are proud of vuvuzela. Some people are saying it will be banned. We say you cannot ban an exquisite product like vuvuzela.”
A boutique-owner in Harare, Rachel Chikwewo, says overall Africa’s first football World Cup is a source of gratification for the entire continent.
“South Africa has done us proud and I think everyone who is watching the World Cup can agree with me that the way they are handling their end is way, way beyond what expected,” said Chikwewo.
She is a bit cautious about the prospects of a second World Cup on the continent.
“I would want to see that happen, but given the situation with most countries in Africa, the infrastructure, the economy, they would need more than four years [to prepare],” she added. “But we cannot rule it out.”
Hilary Malwa, who works for an insurance company in Lusaka, is more confident saying he believes the tournament has opened the door for other major sporting events on the continent.
“It is a great thing because the Olympics can come to Africa and other major tournaments can come to Africa as well,” said Malwa.
Many fans believe Brazil is the most likely team to hoist the World Cup trophy for an unprecedented sixth time. But others say with the backing of an entire continent, Ghana could also win.
VOICE OF AMERICA