Football is a game of emotions. Some might say that the lows experienced following a penalty shoot-out defeat are so crushing that an alternative to spot-kicks must be found. But, in contrast, it gives the victors a moment that they will remember for the rest of their lives, especially when they have the majority of their professional careers ahead of them.
It was a David versus Goliath encounter, in historical terms. Ghana, the African challengers who had never lifted the trophy before, met Brazil, four-time winners. A further gulf was added between the two teams when Black Satellites defender, Daniel Addo was shown the red card with just 37 minutes of the game gone.
Eighty-three minutes later, added time notwithstanding, the game needed a penalty shoot-out to separate the two teams, but with the advantage appearing to lie with Brazil, something remarkable happened. With Brazil leading 2-1 on spot kicks, Maicon, the two-goal hero against Germany only needed to score to win the trophy for his team. But the striker blasted the ball high over the bar, giving Ghana the chance.
"I had a feeling that Maicon might miss, or I might have saved his penalty, because he took such a long time to take it," said Black Satellites stopper, Daniel Agyei in an exclusive chat with FIFA.com after the match. "I knew I'd save a couple of penalties, so when I missed, I thought we might have the advantage. This is a win for Africa, not Ghana. I hope it brings people happiness all over the continent. This is our night."
After Dominic Adiyiah scored and Alex Teixeira missed, it was up to Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu to take the match-winning spot-kick. Africa drew its breath. He did not disappoint.
"I knew I was going to score the penalty," he smiled when speaking to FIFA.com." I always had confidence when I stepped up to take it. But during the match when we went down to ten men, we never lost that confidence, we never stopped believing. It's the best moment of my career."
We fought like dogs to win it, but we're world champions and all the tiredness goes away when you climb those steps to collect the gold medal.
Cue wild celebrations. The players ran to the player, while the technical staff and substitutes embraced as one. Soon it was time to climb the steps at the Cairo International Stadium to receive the trophy from FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. The man leading Ghana up those steps was captain Andre Ayew, who battled through the pain barrier to take part in the game.
"It was absolutely great," he told FIFA.com afterwards. I'd collected the trophy for the team at the African U-20 tournament, but tonight it felt extra special. We fought like dogs to win it, but we're world champions and all the tiredness goes away when you climb those steps to collect the gold medal. To be the first African country to win this cup is absolutely fabulous."
And what of the coach? Sellas Tetteh had a smile as wide as the Nile when stepping off the pitch, but the colourful coach was fulsome of praise for his opponents.
"The two best teams reached the final and it took a sudden-death penalty shoot-out to separate us," he said. "It was a final that had everything: good football, passion, and emotion. But to win it? Well, it's a great feeling. I'm emotional, but I'm happy. We ended this tournament so well and I am so proud of my boys, especially as they were down to ten men for the vast majority of the match."