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Ghana and an Unlikely Championship

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 23:  A Ghana fan shows his colours during the international friendly match between the Australian Socceroos and Ghana at Sydney Football Stadium on May 23, 2008 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Tom McLeanCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2009

Unlikely champions are always fun in sports. Most of those unlikely champions have stories that are typical to others. They feature quotes from players during the week, such as "We believed we could win", "it's us vs. the world", and "nobody believed we could win".

We saw similar situations as that after Virginia Tech lost to Georgia Tech and after the Washington Huskies beat the USC Trojans.

Perhaps the greatest unlikely champion would be found in Egypt, this past Friday. The FIFA Under-20 World Cup ended with Ghana on top of the Under-20 soccer world.

After they defeated perennial soccer great Brazil, it appeared that all of Africa had RSVP'd to the post-game party. Penalty kicks ended, in very dramatic fashion, a championship match that many would agree Brazil had every right to win.

Brazil was probably the favorite to win the game by many soccer aficionados before the first ball was kicked into play, even most of the Ghanaian fans must have doubted their team early.

Brazil had a decided advantage in the match when David Addo was given a rash red card by referee Frank de Bleeckere, leaving the Ghanaian team with only 10 men on the pitch to finish the game.

Despite facing those hurdles, Ghana kept the Brazilians scoreless through 120 minutes of play, fought off 11 shots on target on 32 attempts, and stood even with a team that held possession for 57 percent of the game.

Taking the Brazilians to Penalty Kicks, the Ghanaians moved past their two failed kicks to see their goalkeeper, Daniel Agyei, make two critical saves. An errant kick then sealed the great story of the year.

When Ghana won, we all won.

Call me soft, but this a heart-warming, fairy-tale-like account that shouldn't be forgotten any time soon. Here in football-crazed America, we don't appreciate Futbol as much as we probably should.

As such, we don't see games like these very often and don't get hyped for events like these hardly ever, but Ghana-Brazil this past weekend reminds all of us sports fans that these occasions are why we play the game.

Ghana not only won the championship this weekend, it also received the Adidas Golden Ball and Golden Shoe for Dominic Adiyiah.  Ghana won its group, which featured another usual Soccer powerhouse, England (who finished last in the group).

After beating South Africa, Korea, and Hungary, Ghana has earned its ticket to the championship match. This talented group of young men left the tournament with hardware, and vast amounts of respect.

Ghana was an unlikely champion this weekend and will probably be an unlikely champion in the World Cup in 2010. But fans around the world have a brand-new, prime-time example, of why each game, no matter the sport, is worth watching.

Drama is in each game and we all can enjoy the results that come from it. I only hope that in this period of baseball playoffs and BCS football that we can have just as much drama and unlikely winners.  It's the least that this sports fan can hope for.

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