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Global Soccer, Global NYC

Soccer in NYC Reimagined Through the Rivalries, Identity, Migration, and Politics of the World's Game in the Preeminent Global City

Ghanaian fans in Flatbush erupt into song after Ghana’s victory over Cape Verde in the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal.  

Africa Cup of Nations. Ghana 2 - Cape Verde 0

2 February 2013, 10:00 am. Meytex Cafe, Flatbush Brooklyn

While the Ghanaian migrant community in New York City is centered in the Bronx, there is a smaller, yet equally as Afcon-enthusiastic population of Ghanaians in the Flatbush/Crown Heights neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Meytex Cafe on Flatbush Avenue is part social club, part Ghanaian restaurant, and part bar/party space that provides a social center for the Ghanaian community in Brooklyn and has been one of the premier locations to watch the Black Stars in New York City. 

Early on Saturday morning, fans crowded around the bar at Meytex next to framed photographs of noted Ghanaian and Pan-African luminaries such as Kwame Nkrumah, Haile Selassie, Kofi Annan, Bob Marley, Stephen Appiah, and William Jefferson Clinton to cheer on the Black Stars as they took on Cinderella-story Cape Verde while throwing back bottles of Guinness Foreign Extra.

Ghana’s defense looked shaky from the start but maintained its composure in the face of increasingly dangerous Cape Verdean attacks. After a rather uneventful first half, a controversial penalty kick was awarded when Asamoah Gyan went down in the box in the 51th minute and substitute Mubarak Wakaso coolly slotted it home.

The Ghanaians at Meytex cheered for Wakaso’s goal, but their enthusiasm was somewhat muted by their confidence, with at least forty vocal Brooklyn-based “assistant managers” jokingly offering tactical suggestions to the players and already talking up their chances for success in the final in a seamless blend of English and Twi.

The relaxed and jovial vibe of the crowd, perhaps facilitated by the early morning beers, was a fascinating counterpoint to the life-and-death seriousness of the Moroccans in Astoria and the Ivorians in Harlem from our Afcon-in-the-city travels last week.

After Ghana’s first goal, Cape Verde’s attack further grew in confidence as they threw numbers forward in hopes of an equalizer. Ghana’s defense again could barely keep up with the Blue Shark’s speedy wingers and were time and time again bailed out by man-of-the-match Ghanaian goalkeeper Dauda.

Then, with Cape Verde even sending their keeper forward on a corner in the dying minutes, Mubarak Wakaso found himself on a breakaway with an empty net and calmly put the match away to the victorious chanting of the Black Stars’ fans in Flatbush.

With the match settled, the live Ghanaian satellite feed immediately put on Obaa Yaa & Nana Perbi’s “Official Black Star Fire Song” (sponsored by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation) as the waitress selected Hiplife mix CDs to keep the afternoon celebrations going. We settled our spicy peanut soup and fufu tab, thanked the owners, and told them we might be back for their upcoming Ghana Independence Day party.

Cross-posted to Africa is a Country

Ghana fans celebrate the Black Stars’ second goal in their Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal victory over Cape Verde at Meytex Cafe in Flatbush, Brooklyn. 

Ghana fans celebrate the Black Stars’ second goal in their Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal victory over Cape Verde at Meytex Cafe in Flatbush, Brooklyn. 

Africa Cup of Nations. South Africa 0 – Cape Verde 0

19 January 2013, 11:00 am. Madiba, Fort Greene Brooklyn

The opening match for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations kicked off on Saturday between tournament hosts South Africa and Cup debutantes Cape Verde in a conspicuously empty Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg and resulted in a largely uninspired and forgettable 0-0 draw.

Meanwhile in Fort Greene, where Madiba, New York City’s most popular South African restaurant is located, we were sadly the only two fans present with hopes of watching the match early Saturday morning. The outing also suffered from technical difficulties from the get go. After giving us assurances over the phone that the game would be shown, when we arrived NBA highlights were on a small TV screen and a waitress claimed to not be aware of any South African soccer being played. Following a bit of back and forth with the friendly staff, they said they would try to get an internet stream of the action up on a projector screen that was pulled down over a wall of various South African imported groceries.

Despite the sustained, yet-not-particularly-troubled, efforts of two waitresses, a manager, and a cook, the audio/video issues ultimately rendered viewing the game on the projector moot. We accepted projector defeat and were then handed a laptop with an unfortunate glare problem and a slow internet connection to catch the last twenty minutes of the first half as we finished our tasty egg and boerewors sausage breakfasts.

On the pitch, South Africa looked flat throughout the game and was unable to keep possession in front of the omnipresent vuvuzela drone of the home fans. Bafana Bafana’s attempt to win their first Africa Cup of Nations match since 2004 was also visibly affected by the “retirement” of their best player,Steven Pienaar, “at home in Liverpool.”

Cape Verde, on the other hand, looked energetic, skillful, and dangerous down the flanks despite only having a population of 500,000 people to draw their national side from. They even posses a diminutive striker named Platini who showed flashes of self-assured brilliance.

After having enough with the ongoing technical difficulties and lack of South African fans at Madiba, we ended up relocating to the private residence of a local South African to catch most of the second half in a livelier environment. We are confident, however, that watching Afcon in NYC alongside interested fans will get more dynamic as the tournament goes on and we explore different neighborhoods around the city.

Cross-posted to Africa is a Country