ghana feverish

ACCRA - A virulent virus is sweeping through Ghana, leaving barely a soul untouched, but thankfully it's nothing the World Health Organisation should get concerned about.

ACCRA - A virulent virus is sweeping through Ghana, leaving barely a soul untouched, but thankfully it's nothing the World Health Organisation should get concerned about.

"Have you got the fever yet?" strangers ask each other, smiling, referring of course to the electric excitement triggered by the hosting of the 26th Africa Cup of Nations.

Accra has been abuzz all week ahead of yesterday's opening match pitting the Black Stars of Ghana against west African neighbours Guinea at the newly renovated Ohene Djan Stadium. For the match report see Sowetan's later editions.

Wherever you turned there was only one topic in the air - whether Michael Essien and his teammates can deliver a record-equalling fifth title to Ghana.

Every car and every van on Accra's bustling streets has the national flag flying proudly in support of the bid; pick up a paper and the headlines, bias put aside for the occasion, implore "Ghana To Roar".

This is the biggest show Ghana has ever put on, eclipsing last year's celebrations to mark 50 years of independence from former colonial masters Britain.

It's been a scramble to get all the infrastructure in place, but as one newspaper columnist put it: "The buildup to the tournament has revealed Ghana as a country of incorrigible 'last minuters'.

"We will always be putting the last dash of paint on as the guests arrive. We are like that."

Ghana is revelling in having the eyes of the continent trained on it, and seemingly no stone is being left unturned to create a good impression.

Street traders have been given culinary lessons to fine tune their cooking and even the taxi drivers have been urged to clean up - the sweet smell of success is in the air.

And just to prove that support for the Black Stars is universal, the team has received backing from a very august body of people, the Women Supporters Union of Ghana.

"We'll have 1 000 of our members at the stadium on Sunday in their T-shirts and other paraphernalia in the national colours of red, gold and green and the black star to cheer on the team," Freda Prempeh, WOSUGHA president, had promised.

It's a game Ghana coach Claude le Roy is eyeing as a must-win one to get Ghana off to a flier ahead of their other Group A fixtures against past winners Morocco and underdogs Namibia.

"Host and win" is Ghana's slogan for the tournament. Expectations couldn't be higher for the side that hasn't played a competitive game since losing to Brazil in the second round of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

The team's self-proclaimed 'spiritual mentor', the Reverend Lawrence Tetteh, believes Ghana's time has come to become the pride of Africa.

"The team spirit is high. This is the time to showcase Ghana and prove to the whole world that we are really the Star of Africa," the London-based evangelist said. - Sapa-AFP

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