Monday, February 4, 2008

African Cup of Nations Tickets

African Cup of Nations Tickets.
Achieved the impossible!!!

Bought a ticket at face value over the counter.

I have made friends with locals in each city and they have been helping me find my way around. Also arranged that when I came back they would try and have tickets waiting for me.

Even though I arrived in Takoradi an hour ahead of schedule Nicholas was waiting for me. He told me he had been to the Bank & the Post Office the previous day but that no tickets were on sale. We returned today and walked out with the tickets, when he mentioned that he had been the previous morning they just said that they don't sell them in the morning.

At the game I met the Benin witch doctor - a larger than life character who I first saw on the stadium screen. I met him under the stands during half time and asked to take his photo, he was reluctant and asked for money. Aware of this practice I had been saving my coins to use in such a situation. He kindly told me I could take one, just one.

I asked him to explain the different trinkets he had and what effect they would have on me. I gathered that he had complete control over me, but reassuringly he wasn't going to kill me.....just now. I took the photo and asked if he wanted to see it, as I held it away from and showed his entourage. He became curious and as the others were commenting he now wanted to see.

As he looked a big smile appeared on his face. Then other Benin supporters wanted their photo taken with him. I told them that I couldn't help as I was only allowed to take one. (I was worried about the consequences if I took more). I think they elected me Benin supporters' official photographer, so suddenly they had agreed that I would take their photographs with the witch doctor. Email addresses were exchanged and the witch doctor grabbed my hand and invited me into the stadium. As he danced I shot some film, and after called him over to see this. After watching this he grabbed me in some sort of bear hug and then started to rub noses, cheeks and forehead. Suddenly this white man was no more! A quick trip to the bathroom and the paint was removed.

From Takoradi, I caught the local transit van. The vans wait until they are full and then set off. I guess the warning signs were there when they had to push it to get it started. Sure enough after two hours on the road & in the middle of nowhere we broke down. Normally there are street vendors at every roadside dwelling you see, selling their wares, bags of iced water, fish, yam amongst other things. Here there was no one.

The driver jumped in a car and headed back to Cape Coast. Two hours later he returned, and our journey continued. Arriving in Kumasi 45 minutes before the game I quickly sorted out accomodation and went to meet my friends, not surprisingly they were not there, but they left someone at the meeting place to tell me there was no problems and you could buy tickets at the stadium.

Yesterday in Tamale, there was no sign of official tickets available and so of I went with my latest entourage. I ended up paying 25 cedis (Twelve pounds 50 pence) for 3 VIP tickets (Face value 75 cedis each). My friends Nodge and Mustafa thought it was great, but I told them the best seats were the ones behind the goals, where the supporters made all the noise.

Sure enough after twenty minutes, Nodge with his Leeds United badge on, was cheering on Rui Marques for Angola. This obviously inspired the team as they turned their 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 win. The second game saw South Africa play Tunisia and there were few Tunisians to be seen. However once they scored the local drummers started up and a party atmosphere was seen all around us as local Ghanaians danced to the rythmn and gestured to the South Africans.

© Ross Clegg & Soccerphile

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