The 2006 World Cup is now in full swing. For whatever reason, I have not really been as excited about this World Cup as I was during the previous 3. Perhaps not having it on my TV screen without the ludicrous 492 NIS charge has something to do with it. But that all changed Saturday evening. No, I'm not talking about the highly disappointing Italian performance (Their 1-1 tie with the United States left me feeling that the Azzurri will yet again fail to lift the trophy they last won in 1982). I'm talking about Ghana, the next country in a long line of African surprise packages (with European stars like Stephane Appiah and Michael Essien) producing a stunning 2-0 demolition of tournament dark horses, the Czech Republic.
What caught my eye in the highlights was that after every goal, John Pantsil, Hapoel Tel Aviv's right back, celebrated with an Israeli flag. Yes, an African Christian, showing unity with a country that he has called home for almost 5 years. He said he'd do it, and boy oh boy, did he ever deliver. That flag waving took him from being a practically unknown player in Israel to being on the cover of every single Israeli newspaper. After the game, he told an Israeli reporter that he wanted to make Israel happy because he loved the country. Johnny boy, not only have you done that, but you've become our representative in the World Cup. You, and your 2 other countrymen (George Owu & Emmanuel Pappoe), that play their club football in Israel have just become our heroes - Come on Black Stars!