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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 January 2008, 13:46 GMT
Ghana gears up for the Nations Cup
By Farayi Mungazi
BBC Sport, Accra

A Ghana flag on a quadbike
Ghana flags are being hung all over the capital Accra

The flags are flying on top of buildings all around the capital, Accra, and no doubt across the entire country as well.

From one building to another, the red, gold and green flags flutter in the wind, exposing the black star in the middle.

Almost every car seems to be adorned with the country's standard (although some have more than one flag attached).

Some patriots are only too happy to wave them out the windows of their houses - or shacks - in the case of those living in some of Accra's most deprived areas.

Welcome to Ghana, ladies and gentleman.

This land of 20 million or so inhabitants has become infected with a bug called Nations Cup football fever.

In fact, the enthusiasm, or some would say, hysteria for the tournament threatens to make life a misery for any Ghanaian born without the so-called 'football gene.'

From 20 January, Ghana, along with 15 other countries, will battle for the most coveted prize in African football.

Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of Ghanaians have been caught up in the Nations Cup frenzy.

TV rivalry

A Ghana football fan
Football fever is sweeping across Ghana ahead of the Nations Cup

Television networks and radio stations alike are doing their utmost to stir up passions across the country.

"Go, Black Stars, we need the Cup," exhorts a female presenter on a TV channel which claims to be the "best for Nations Cup news."

A rival channel which sees itself as the "home of the Nations Cup" is featuring an interview done with Michael Essien prior to Ghana's maiden World Cup appearance last year.

Germany 2006? Hey, who cares, if it is football, anything goes at the moment. The F-word is all the rage here.

Most newspapers and magazines are carrying "Countdown to the Nations Cup" articles exploring every detail of the tournament.

Businesses too have joined the bandwagon, trying to rack in truckloads of cash by launching several marketing promotions.

The airwaves are thick with Nations Cup-related promotions offering all kinds of prizes, including tickets for the opening game.

And although the Local Organising Committee has vowed to put those selling unofficial merchandise out of business, these illegal traders are ubiquitous.

Every street corner is fully stocked up with Nations Cup merchandise, including team jerseys of the 16 finalists, T-shirts, coffee mugs and key-rings.

You see, in Ghana, as in many other parts of the world, football is more than just the national game - it is the national obsession.

Ghanaians think and dream about football from the cradle to the grave and the Nations Cup has turned this deep devotion to the game into something akin to a religious fervour.

So, over the next month, football 'experts' of all shapes and sizes will crawl out of the woodwork to cast doubts about this defender, or foresee a bright future for that midfielder.



SEE ALSO
Hotels cash in on Nations Cup
12 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Ghana embraces Nations Cup fever
26 Oct 07 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Nations Cup guide
21 Oct 07 |  Africa Cup of Nations


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