Monday, June 16, 2014

5 Reasons to Hate: Ghana

International competitions are a source of national pride. In the microcosm of the World Cup, where just 3 games in group play separate teams from a sense of great accomplishment from utter failure, the importance of each match is intensified. Some national sides, like our natural rivals Mexico or international super-villains the English, are easy to hate. The luck of the World Cup draw can land you in a group with teams like Slovenia and Algeria (that rank outside the top 25 in the World) or Germany and Portugal (who rank in the top 3). While you likely feel passionately about the United States team (even if you don't know much about them, they're American dammit), what makes the World Cup great is the sense of national pride coupled with a sense of vitriol for your opponents. It's not enough just to score a victory on the pitch, but who you defeat matters. Therefore, rather than just give another preview of the United States where you can read about how Michael Bradley's exquisite work in the midfield will be the key to transition the team from defense to offense and how Jozy Altidore needs to continue to find the back of the net, I'm going to look at the opposition. You don't need a reason to root for America. But here are 5 good reasons to hate Ghana.

For much better previews of the United States side than I could write, check out:

5. Founder's Day Celebrates a Socialist

Ghana celebrates Founder's Day on September 21, the birthday of Ghana's first President Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah was a documented socialist who was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union in 1963. He was overthrown from power in a military coup in 1966 at a time when he was abroad in the People's Republic of China and Vietnam. This is significantly less cool than celebrating September 21 as the day The Hobbit was published.

4. Puns

Starting with #WereGhanaWin, the puns are just pouring across Twitter. And most of them are awful. I'll spare you the groaning that would ensure from posting a bunch of them. But here's a brief look at the horror:

3. RIP Bob Bradley

Bob Bradley was the coach of the US Men's National Team in 2010 when they were shocked by Ghana in the Round of 16 when Asamoah Gyan scored in extra time. Bradley was relieved of his coaching duties in 2011 and replaced by Jurgen Klinsmann.

2. Casket Matches

In 2006, the United States entered the last match of Group play against Ghana with just 1 point, earned in a crazy draw with Italy that saw multiple players sent off. Ghana and the Czechs had 3 points and a win over Ghana coupled with a Czech loss to Italy would have sent the United States through to the knockout stage. The Italians did their part disposing of the Czechs, but Ghana topped the United States 2-1 and sent the American team home from Germany with their names at the bottom of the group table.

Four years later, the US met Ghana again in the Round of 16 after the US topped their group. The Americans looked poised for a deep run as powerhouses Argentina, Germany and Spain were on the opposite half of the bracket and they would not have to face Germany or the Netherlands until the semi-finals. However, with the match sent to extra time, this happened:
The US never recovered and left South Africa much the same way they left Germany.

1. Asamoah Gyan

Gyan has been a super-villain to the United States in the mold of Lex Luthor. He scored in extra time to knock the American team out of the World Cup in 2010 but in true super-villain fashion was denied on a penalty kick against Uruguay that cost his team the match. Gyan was dismissed from Ghana's 2006 match with Brazil for diving and has twice walked away from his team. Is this the kind of deserter that a nation should hold up as an icon? Well, he was named Ghana's Team Captain for the tournament.

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