First of all, and to better understand my experience in Ghana, you need to know some facts:
– I am NO football-maniac.
– I’ve been to the stadium two times in my life.
– I hardly know the names of the players or who plays for which team.
– My most intensive soccer experience was – and just like everyone else I know – during the Africa Cup of Nations of 2006 that took place in Egypt.
– Oh and I love Egypt very much J
Day 0: It all started when I was watching the last 10 minutes of our match against Cote d’Ivoire followed by a program of Shouber congratulating the team. During the show the Minister of Civil Aviation decided to send a plane to Ghana with supporters of our national team. That’s all.
Day 1: With and Egypt Air flight for 1800,- LE including game ticket, vaccine against Cholera and Malaria and endless bottles of OFF mosquito repellent my cousin and I decided to head to the soccer mission in Ghana.
Day 2: The outstanding yellow fever vaccine (without it you cannot enter Egypt without being quarantined) at the airport took us 3 hours and 3 fights.
The CUP day:
I had slept late. Wake up call at 3.30am. 20 minutes later I was packing some extra clothes and all the medicine you could think of and a good supply of bananas to assure constipating to avoid any unnecessary toilet use, if you understand what I mean. Airport staff, full of pride as if the son’s of Egypt are about to sacrifice their lives on some sort of a patriotic act, stamped our passports and if was official: Ghana here we come!
After a mass on-board spraying action of mosquito repellent, proudly dressed in the national football shirts with some well meant behavioral instructions for well-behaved Egyptian football fans, we touched land in Accra. A long queue and souvenir photos with the Cameroonian frenemy later we walked on Ghana’s soil and were shipped off by bus. Singer Mohamed Fouad jumped on the bus and was offered, to my amusement, nuts and pistachios by my fellow football fans.
An hour later we reached the stadium, basically an area filled with people and a beautiful new-looking stadium in the horizon. I’ve got to say two things about Ghana that I noticed. The streets were truly clean and the people were mostly smiling.
The teams were already doing their warm-ups and within 30 minutes the stadium went from all-empty status to full and the game started! The players went in and waved to us and the match started. I assume most of you ladies and gents have already watched the match so all I can say it was breathtaking and we were truly stressed and frustrated when the time was closing by and Egypt didn’t score anything. I started to hear people swearing and some of them were acting as the real coaches of the team. Boom boom, tack tack and then Gooooooooal! PEOPLE SHOUTING, SCREAMING, JUMPING HUGGING! WAVING! FALLING DOWN OFF THE CHAIRS! I hugged my friend and felt my heart was coming out of its place (seriously!!! I suddenly realized it was no lie that some people die from the excitement of the matches). The funniest thing is a guy next to us was fighting throughout the match with a guy in front of him to sit down so he would be able to see, and as soon as the goal was confirmed, they were hugging each other! The cheering didn’t stop for a moment until the whistle ended the game. The Egyptian team started to wave back and cheer with us until the match was over and almost all of them ran to the corner where we were sitting and started to wave to us. It felt so amazing, like we made this victory happen somehow!
I have to make a stop here, the moment the guy said lots of things in French which I didn’t understand but realized he was announcing that the winner of the cup are the pharaohs of Egypt. I felt truly proud! Proud to be Egyptian and proud to be there and totally forgot all the silly things that have put us on the permanently-tired-gonna-die mode.
After the game busses shipped us off again to the airport to catch the flight back home with the CUP. Some more waiting and then the team of the Cameron went through the waiting room, everyone stood up and started to clap for them applauding their efforts and they were somewhat looking towards the floor. Moments later and Amr Zaki came in shouting: “Does anyone have food from Egypt on him?” actually within seconds my fellow football fans sacrificed their snacks. My cousin and I brought out our pens and started asking the heroes to sign our shirts, which they did with a big smile. Under the airplane the party started, led by Zidane and Zaki singing and exciting everyone while heading up the stairs. Entering the airplane, I felt like I had just realized my life goal. I went immediately to the toilet. I somehow almost took a shower in that tiny airplane toilet and managed to change my 100% sweat-wet clothes and went back to my seat and although I could hear there was lots of dancing and cheering around, I honestly fell down asleep, or more precisely unconscious. I was tired beyond words.
Heroes coming home!!!