Nation celebrates World Cup ticket
Better late than never is an expression that must have been coined with Ghana's long-suffering football fans in mind.
They waited far too long for their beloved Black Stars to qualify for the World Cup finals.
But four decades of drought finally ended, as Ghana's 4-0 victory over Cape Verde in Praia secured their passage to Germany 2006.
Jubilant fans took to the streets - dancing, singing, shouting and drinking - after seeing their team qualify for football's most prestigious event.
Horn-blaring cars draped in the colours of the Ghanaian flag filled the streets of the capital, Accra, and the second city of Kumasi.
"Today is the happiest day of my life. Every Ghanaian has been waiting for this," said Black Stars skipper Stephen Appiah.
The West African nation's football pedigree is something beyond dispute, winning the African Cup of Nations four times and the under-17 world championship twice.
But ever since Ghana began their journey for a World Cup spot in 1962, when they entered the qualifiers for the first time, failure had been a recurring theme - until now.
"At long last we have proved that we're a good football nation and the German embassy should start issuing out visas," quipped Ken Fynn, a resident of Accra.
When I asked another fan, dressed head-to-toe in the red, green and gold of the Ghanaian flag, what he thought lay behind Ghana's success, he shouted out two words - "team spirit!"
Team spirit may be one of the most commonly used phrases in sport, especially in football. But when it comes to the Black Stars, it is an appropriate term.
Michael Essien and Stephen Appiah are the kind of players every coach would love to have in his team but I'm sure even they will admit that the current Black Stars are not the most talented.
But team spirit, with its emphasis on never giving up, helping each other out and doing everything together, definitely makes up for the lack of talent in Ratomir Dujkovic's side. Wa Two soccer fans in the Wa Municipality celebrated the victory and qualification of the Black Stars to the World Cup in style by riding on the backs of donkeys waving miniature Ghana flags in jubilant mood. Apart from Limann Mumuni and Dramani Issah, the donkey riders, other supporters also tooted the horns of their motorbikes, cars and bicycles to express their joy and happiness at the victory of the Stars. When the GNA Sports asked Mumuni why he was celebrating on the back of a donkey, he said, "A donkey is an animal of history. During the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, a lot of Christians used donkeys while in the days of the Prophet Mohammed, Muslims used donkeys for errands and so it is appropriate that we also use donkeys to celebrate the Black Stars victory who are entering the World cup for the first time", he said.
Mr. George Folley Quaye, Regional Correspondent of the Daily Graphic told the GNA that football has reached a turning point whilst the so-called minnows were qualifying.
He however expressed the optimism that if the current squad and their coach are maintained, Ghana could cause a stir at the World Cup in Germany 2006.
"I tell you that Ghanaians are more than happy, not just because of the four goals scored by the Stars but for ensuring that they won all their second round matches in grand style.
Mr. Thomas Kapiri, a soccer analyst commended the coach for his wonderful performance and called on Ghanaians not to force players on the technical team as has been the practice in the past. Some of the jubilant supporters celebrated the victory at drinking spots deep into the night even though the Municipality experienced general lights off soon after the match.