locals shine in ghana

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

ACCRA - The majority of South Africans, who are in Ghana for the 26th MTN Africa Cup of Nations finals, could not be blamed for their wild celebrations when the biennial tournament reached its climax last night.

Despite the much publicised poor handling of the accreditation of more than 1 900 local and foreign media by the Ghanaians, South Africans rightly deserved a pat of the back for contributing to the roaring success of the tournament.

While back home we usually moan about poor service by some of our civil servants, it is only fair to single out representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, who have been here since January 7 as volunteers, for a job well done.

Even South African soccer administrators such as Reuben Mahlalela, Raymond Hack, Olehile Manong and journalists can attest that people from foreign affairs made things easier for many to get accreditation cards.

On the first day (January 20) of the opening of the accreditation centre for the media, we were sent from pillar to post but ultimately went home with our cards after we roped in the South African civil servants for assistance.

On the field of play, it was one of the greatest tournaments that many people on the African continent and globally will remember for a long time. The standard was great and there was an array of brilliant goals scored.

One of the goals that really caught the attention of many was scored by Manchester United-bound Alberto Goncalves, otherwise popularly known as Manucho, when Angola were defeated 2-1 by Egypt in a quarterfinal match.

It is only worth mentioning that the tournament has attracted some of the best players who ply their trade in Europe, people such as Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Michael Essien, Sibusiso Zuma, Aaron Mokoena, Chris Katongo, John Obi Mikel, Samuel Eto'o and Mohamed Zidan.

Outspoken former Chelsea and Porto coach Jose Muourinho, who is here in Ghana as a special guest of the Local Organising Committee, was also highly impressed with the standard of the 16-nation tournament.

Germany soccer great Lothar Mattheus was also happy with the five star performances dished out by the players during the tournament, which also attracted talent scouts from Asian and European giants in search of new talent.

It is one tournament that many soccer lovers across the continent will also remember for the great passion displayed by young and old Ghanaians of all sorts of shapes and sizes, especially when the Black Stars were playing. They reminded one of the passion by Siwelele, supporters of Bloemfontein Celtic.