There is something deeply confusing about a drawn game where the two teams split the points. First, the splitting of points is illogical, and we have concluded that football has no logic. (See Diary 5). This is what I mean: a win in football gives three points to the winner and zero to the loser, but when the two teams draw, they get one point each instead of sharing the three points equally. However, that is different from our current mathematical problem. We will come to that soon.
The second and more disconcerting thing about draws is how we respond to them. Should we be happy or sad? Football support and emotional intelligence may be poles apart, but the game’s support has an inner mechanism lodged in a part of the human brain that needs particular interpretation.
Our response as a nation exemplifies that inner working at its most befuddling. We were expecting a drubbing at the hands of Egypt. That made sense. We had just been dispatched by the weaker Cape Verde, so what chance did we stand against Egypt with Sallah leading the charge? Indeed, a Ghanaian prophet had revealed that even God had disowned his own country. So, we went into the match fully aware and accepting of our status as a hopeless underdog. We came out with a draw. Should we not be happy?
No. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to understand how this works per formula, this is it: if you play badly but get a draw, you are happy. If you play well but get a draw, you are sad. Yesterday, our boys (they are men, but we have always called them boys) played their hearts out and deserved to win. So that is what is known as a bad draw. Egypt, on the other hand, expected to win. They came out second-best on the field of play. They ended up with a good draw. They ought to be happy.
In truth, however, Ghanaians have every reason to be happy; of course, the prophet whose prophecy turned out false must be really unhappy, but there is always a reason to explain why the message may have been garbled. We may still need his services. The Black Stars that took the field differed from the lot that played against Cape Verde. In addition to the sensational Kudus, most players played at a much higher tempo and with extraordinary verve.
The mathematicians are out in their numbers doing every known and unknown calculation to determine the chances of the Black Stars. It is a complicated situation, and it has become even more so with Cape Verde’s win against Mozambique. There is a slim chance that Ghana can qualify through mathematical computation, which hinges on Egypt faltering in their third match and Ghana playing heroically in theirs.
There are many reasons why the Stars must win, and we will explore them in subsequent Diary entries, but for me, it is simple. I want many opportunities to wear my Black Star shirt, donated by MTN, a few more times. For this reason, I implore mathematicians to work together with miracle workers. Calling all miracleticians – YOUR NATION NEEDS YOU.