At Qatar 2022, Ghana will appear at a fourth Fifa World Cup, hoping for more good memories on a stage where they’ve had lots of fun in the past. Ahead of their November 24 kick-off against Portugal at the futuristic Stadium 974 in Doha, Ink & Kicks reviews the 13 goals already in the Black Stars’ World Cup account.
Today, we’re on Goal #1…
Ghana’s Fifa World Cup debut, on June 12, 2006, was a bittersweet occasion.
The initial elation of making a long-awaited bow at the Mundial was quickly drowned by a 90-minute baptism of fire in which Ghana displayed plenty of pluck but not enough experience to withstand the might of an Italy side that, though certainly capable, also exploited the rookies’ naivety to make a winning start to an ultimately triumphant campaign.
Five days later, Ghana had to recover to take on a slightly more formidable opponent in Group E, the Czech Republic. The Fifa Ranking going into that tournament had the eastern Europeans second only to Brazil, and Karel Bruckner’s side had underlined that status with a ruthless 3-0 thrashing of the USA in their group opener.
The prospect of facing the Czechs, then, was definitely not for the faint-hearted, but the Black Stars showed up in just the right mood to face it head-on and get down to giant-slaying business. There were no jitters this time, only composure and class all over the pitch, with Petr Cech and Co. – 2-0 losers by the time it was all over – left wondering just what had hit them.
The first of Ghana’s goals was as well-taken as it was well-made.
Cech – a while before the protective headgear became part of his matchday outfit – punched clear a threatening corner-kick, sending the ball far enough from his area, but it was back to – and, indeed, beyond – him sooner than he’d have anticipated.
Stephen Appiah, the legendary captain of the Black Stars, hoovered up the loose ball. And he did so rather exquisitely, with a delicate touch that – had it gone awry – could have played right into the hands of the couple of Czech players lurking, as Ghana had a lot more men up the pitch.
Such was Appiah’s confidence in his ability to pull it off, though, that he boldly walked that thin line between genius and madness, beating an opponent in a single, deft move. What he did next, with the ball now under control, was just as brilliant — if not more so.
From a considerable distance, Appiah expertly addressed a pass to teammate Asamoah Gyan’s location in the ‘D’. Gyan brought it down, with his chest, before swinging a left-footed finish past Cech. And, with that, Ghana carved out a small slice of World Cup history; Gyan’s goal, under two minutes, would go down as the fastest-scored at Germany 2006.
The jubilant scenes, led by Gyan appearing to dust off both boots (curiously, that would be his only strike at that tournament, going on to miss a penalty later in the game), would linger long in the memory – as would the second goal, registered some eight minutes from the end, and the knock-kneed celebration that followed.