As hordes of fans descended upon University of Legon, kick-off took place at 7 AM, with a clash between the European Union team and Italy. The Italians, in their classic azurri outfits, started defensively against the highly talented EU side. But this was to no avail. One attacking wave after another swept upon the Italian side from the EU youngsters, who were eagerly supported by a large crowd of charming followers. As the EU's 2-0 victory was confirmed, the Italian fans were silent as a grave in the midst of the EUphoria.
However, the expectations caused by the EU's victory were only to be shattered in the second round. Netherlands had dispatched the French with a resounding and entertaining 6-4 victory, and were now to face the noble EU youngsters in what could easily become a modern classic of football. The EU team fought hard to stay in the match, but in the end to no avail against the mighty orange attacking machine. The fans however, displayed fairness and thanked their team for their marvelous performance.
The preliminary round matches saw some more exciting football. In a preview of the upcoming World Cup 2006 clash, the Black Stars from Ghana faced the Czech Republic. In a highly awaited match, both teams displayed fair play and friendliness. In spite of this, the Ghanaians had no quarrels in pounding some Czech fufu for their breakfast. The Czechs were sent home with a resounding 3-0, and should not be expecting any gifts in Germany either.
In spite of their glorious start, the Ghanaians could not keep it going, as they ran into the well-oiled German football machine in the next round. The Germans had defeated Spain in a match where the result was the same as their encounter in the Euro 1988. The Germans defeated the charming home-team 3-0, and were more and more looking like the ones to defeat.
A highly awaited encounter in the preliminary round was England-Denmark. As so often happens in these matches, the Danes were far superior to the Spice Boys, who were dispatched with 3-0. Wayne Rooney's injury was not the only thing causing headaches in Britain this weekend!
The final round of the tournament was as exciting as football can get. First, Germany faced the Danish Dynamite in a repeat of the legendary 1992 European Championship final. In a nail-biting encounter, none of the teams managed to score, so they had to proceed to a nerve-wrecking penalty shootout. The goalie of the German team proved as cool as the legendary Harald Schumacher against Mexico in 1986 World Cup, and put the Germans in the final.
While the Danes had to conform to third place, the wind of history swept across the fields in Legon that hot Saturday afternoon. The final was to be one of the most classic encounters in football history: a repeat of the 1974 World Cup final, of the Euro 1988 semifinal, or the World Cup 1990 last-16 match. None other than the giants from the Netherlands and Germany!
As the fans from each team lined up their support for another clash of Titans, the teams got ready for another nerve-wrecking and close encounter. The orange attacking waves swept over the German side, the Germans kept their cool in the hot afternoon. In what was a repeat of football history, the German team took home the title after an amazing penalty shootout, where only the strongest managed not to faint.
In the end, the true winners of the tournament were all the Ghanaian u-12 teams who could participate in this fun tournament! They were all the true stars of the day, and I was only a lucky football fanatic who happened to be around!