We've been at the part of the World Cup, ever since the group stage ended, where many of the spectators have been muttering the "could have been / should have been" mantra. Fans don't need prompting from sensationalist reporting about implosions, denigration of the coach's strategy, team cohesiveness, slips of concentration or the vagaries of the drama of the game. Us football fans simply know. We could see for ourselves and feel it in our bones. We know what could have been, we know what should have been.
Every team had its chances - unlike in other world cups, this has been a wide open competition. Read the reports in zonal marking and you won't see much onesidedness. Even where there were clear gaps in class vis-a-vis their opponents (say Honduras or Australia), the teams in question had opportunities. The Socceroos were thrilling and gave palpitations because of their athleticism and Cahill's finishing ability. Those who pooh-poohed the Iranians' defensive-mindedness will admit that when they finally broke out they were potent. The Ivoriens will wonder how they let the Greeks back in with minutes to go. The Mexicans, Chileans and the Colombians will know that they will never have collapsed like the Brazilian hosts did today... It could have been, it should have been.
Closer to home, Ghanaians are ruing the missed opportunities and thinking about how they were the only team to really frighten the Germans. Even more-so than in 2010, when we could taste the semi-finals and beyond, Ghanaians were expecting to return with silverware - Group of Death be damned. Those seven minutes when Ghana had Germany on the run and could even had piled on and added a couple of goals to their lead will be an enduring memory. It could have been, it should have been.
I still feel that Sulley Muntari getting his second yellow card during that game hence missing the crucial midfield battle against the Portuguese was the turning point, but even then Ghana had its chances against Portugal as we did in every game that we played. It could have been, it should have been.
I think to the sense of predatory anticipation every time Costa Rica's Joel Campbell touched the ball. I wonder why it took Wayne Rooney 75 minutes to realize that he had to come back to make deeper runs to shrug off his man-to-man marker - something that took James Rodriguez 25 minutes in Columbia's toughest match. Why didn't his manager simply signal from the bench since his star was being anonymous. The Hodgson Puzzle perhaps, and there have been many other puzzles this time. It could have been, it should have been.
I think to the fluency of the passing when teams really gelled. Colombia, The Netherlands and others. And Ghana. And Ghana... The 4 man game that Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew, Kwadwo Asamoah and Sulley Muntari sometimes offered was thrilling. I recall Kwadwo Asamoah's brilliant crosses and that last ditch tackle at the end of the Germany match. Turns out that that was not enough. It could have been, it should have been.
Soundtrack for this note
One of my favorites from A Turtle's Dream. I still miss her desperately.
File under: football, sports, drama, regret, world cup, Ghana, culture, observation, perception, Africa, toli
It's the sound of sorry
Looking yonder with regret
Sorry 'cause of what you got
And what you didn't get
Could've been another song
Would've been a sing along
Could've been, would've been