The FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 has produced more than its fair share of great games, stunning goals and impressive shows of support in the stands. The Uzbekistan fans have beaten a mean rhythm with their drums, while the flag-bearing Iraqis have also caught the eye. However, for sheer colour and exuberance, no one has been able to match Ghana’s gallant gang of followers. With their singing, bright outfits, enthusiastic flag-waving and their faces and even bodies daubed in the national colours, the Ghanaian fans have been very hard to ignore.
The Black Satellites’ 150-strong band of supporters will give one last performance in Istanbul on Saturday, when their side takes on Iraq in the match for third place. Before they do so, FIFA.com spoke to the group to find out why they have travelled all the way from the country’s capital of Accra to follow the U-20 side right across Turkey.
“We try to follow the national team at every tournament,” said group leader Shaiby Abass. “No matter where they play, we go there with the aim of encouraging them and cheering them on.”
As Abass went on to explain, their loyalty extends to both the U-20 and full national sides: “We were at Germany 2006, South Africa 2010 and, if Ghana qualifies, we’ll be going to Brazil 2014 too.”
Returning to Turkey 2013, Abass is convinced that their ongoing support has played a key part in Ghana’s run to the last four: “Our backing has made the difference. The team started with a 3-1 defeat to France but that was before we got here. We’d all arrived in time for the Spain game in Istanbul and with us behind them they only lost 1-0.”
The best was yet to come, however: “Then we went to Kayseri and cheered them on to a 4-1 defeat of USA.”
After qualification from the group phase came the fightbacks that made the team famous and filled Abass and his long-distance travelling companions with pride: “We gave them some great support against Portugal and they won 3-2 despite being two goals down. We said to the boys: ‘You can do it’ and they made us feel proud. Against Chile in Istanbul there was a lot of support, with around 150 of us there, and we were able to beat them 4-3.”
The Ghana fan club were also in Bursa for Wednesday’s semi-final against France but were unable this time to inspire the Black Satellites to victory, as their hopes of winning the title evaporated.
Beaten but unbowed, Abbas and his merry band will be out in force again at Istanbul’s Ali Sami Yen Arena this Saturday, when they will be doing their very best to make their young heroes feel at home. As far as he is concerned, all the fans are doing is returning a little bit of the pleasure the players have given the country.
“We support them, that’s true, but they have given a lot to the nation,” said a smiling Abbas, his pride plain for all to see.