Glory Is Here, Germany Is Near
A grand national celebration unimaginable beckons Ghana's Black Stars as they get set to put the icing on their maiden World Cup qualification cake in far away Praia,tomorrow.
As the Stars battle Cape Verde in this final Group Two qualifier,the cheers will surely be loudest as missing the boat to Germany 2006 at this stage would pass for the eighth wonder of the world.
With a large number of Ghanaians likely to witness the fulfilment of this life-long dream live in Praia, the carnival is expected to begin all the way from the Cape Verde Islands to Accra.
The fact is,the Stars have the sole group ticket firmly in their grips as the odds highly favour them in every way one looks at it.
Even FIFA which had earlier cut short Ghanaians' celebration by ruling out Ghana's head-to-head advantage over closest pursuers,DR Congo,has made a sudden U-turn, claiming now that the Stars would still have a bright chance of booking their maiden World Cup ticket in case the two tie on points.
With South Africa completely out of contention, and Ghana having the head-to-head edge over DR Congo after drawing 0-0 and 1-1 in Kumasi and Kinshasa respectively,the unlikely scenario is that the Congolese would have to beat South Africa 2-0 in Durban,while Ghana loses 3-0 to Cape Verde before the unexpected could happen.
Although that appears a remote possibility,the destiny of the Stars rarely hangs on the statistics.Much as the players are well aware that tomorrow's assignment is a mere formality,they have still resolved to complete this historic campaign in grand style with yet another away victory.
Interestingly,the players have already budgeted for the $8,000 winning bonus at their disposal as they do not envisage the Cape Verdeans putting the brakes on their excellent form.
Above all,the Stars have President Kufuor's 'Operation Six Points' pledge to fulfil after thrashing Uganda 2-0 in their last outing in Kumasi barely a month ago.
Unlike the hosts,the Stars enter tomorrow's game with a huge psychological advantage after beating them 2-0 in the first leg in Kumasi last year.
In addition,Ghana's West African neighbours have nothing to lose other than pride after blowing their World Cup and African Nations Cup chances.
In spite of all these,Coach Ratomir Dujkovic says he is leaving nothing to chance,considering how strong Cape Verde,who feature a host of players who ply their trade in Portugal,can be at home.
Out of the four matches played so far in Praia,they have won two and drawn one,with their only home defeat (2-1) coming from South Africa.
This is why Dujkovic will go all out to secure a good result to break new grounds after steering war-torn Rwanda to their first Nations Cup in Tunisia last year.
Incidentally, that feat was accomplished at the expense of Ghana.For tomorrow's game,the Serbian hopes to rely on his trusted first team comprising Sammy Adjei,John Paintsil, Emmanuel Pappoe,Issah Ahmed,John Mensah, Michael Essien, Laryea Kingston,Matthew Amoah, Kwabena Asamoah Frempong (Joetex), Stephen Appiah and Sule Muntari, while returnee Asamoah Gyan, Hamza Mohammed and Dan Quaye are the possible cards he would play as substitutes.
The Ghanaian team moved camp from Portugal to Praia on Wednesday night to finalise preparations for tomorrow's memorable match.