Ghana didn’t qualify for the World Cup, so which African team do I support?

One Ghanaian football fan wrestles with which teams to support in this year's World Cup after the Black Stars failed to qualify.

Watching Ghana vs. Germany in World Cup 2010 at Fiesta, Brixton. Image credit Adrian Murphy via Flickr.

I remember the one moment I cried during a football game.

July 2010. Ghana was ready to become the first African nation to advance to the semi-finals in the World Cup. The bragging rights would be immense. For the next four years, not one nation, not Ethiopia, nor South Africa and certainly not Nigeria would be able to say jack to Ghanaians. From 2010-2014, Ghana would be the undisputed shining sun of Africa.

This is how delirious soccer can make you.

Asamoah Gyan, our star forward, was ready to send Ghana to immeasurable heights thanks to the handball by the ear-biting, donkey looking, Luiz “And I’m Racist” Suarez. My Michael Essien jersey stuck to my back as I waited to celebrate with my jollof rice.

It would get cold and untouched.

Gyan missed the penalty, Luiz Suarez and Uruguay moved on and I wept like I had some shito in my eyes. Ghana has been on a steady decline, from getting scored on within the first minute and then going on to lose the match versus the USA in Brazil to now missing the next World Cup for the first time in 12 years.

I don’t care for any South American team, Europe are the original colonizers and I wished I paid more attention to Asian teams, but I don’t. The dilemma is: when your African country is not in the World Cup, who do you support?

This year, the five African teams are Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal and Nigeria. (It is ridiculous that Africa only gets five slots, considering Africa is a continent with around 55 nations while Europe has 50 countries and gets 14 slots, but I digress.) I only know about Egypt because of their phenomenal forward Mo Salah. A running joke a lot of Sub-Saharan Africans say about North Africans is that they only call themselves African when it comes to soccer. I wish them well, but the Sahara divides more than geography.

There is Senegal with their flashy forward Mane. Mbalax is my second favorite musical genre and Thieboudienne is better than your momma’s jerk chicken. Of all the other African teams, they probably have the best chances of getting out their group and advance with Colombia.

That leaves Nigeria. The land of Fela, Basketmouth and M’baku’s accent. Ghana and Nigeria have always had this love-hate relationship. They are Ghana-To-Go bags, which they turn around and call Ghana Must Go. They have the audacity to challenge our jollof superiority, and responded to our graceful and beautiful Azonto with that elbows and toes monstrosity, Alingo.

But I am still supporting Nigeria. Because Nigeria is that loud, annoying sister that you talk shit about, but will slap a non-family member if someone said the same thing. Because Nigeria is the sister, and we are all family. I will cheer for the last African team standing. And who knows? Maybe this time, there won’t be tears of sadness, but of joy.

Further Reading

Game of Chicken

Reliving the epic quarterfinal match between reigning European football champions, France, and 1983 Copa America runners-up, Brazil, at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.