Ghana brings out emotion in former U.S. coach Bob Bradley

Ghana brings out emotion in former U.S. coach Bob Bradley

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When the United States kicks off its World Cup campaign on Monday against Ghana, Bob Bradley won’t be in the stands.

His son, Michael, will be starting in central midfield. The veterans he coached in South Africa and the dual-national newcomers he brought into the program will be on the field as well.

The team the USA will face broke his heart twice. Four years ago, Ghana knocked the Americans out of the World Cup.

Seven months ago, Ghana crushed Egypt’s dream of qualifying for the World Cup, ending Bradley’s tenure as Egypt’s coach.

‘Yeah, this World Cup will have many different emotions, no doubt about that,’ Bradley says from his home in Norway, where he coaches Stabaek. He will watch the World Cup with his wife, Lindsay, from there.

‘We’ll be working,’ he says. (Norway’s club season runs from spring to fall, unlike most European leagues, with a break for the World Cup.) ‘We’ve discussed it as a family. Michael knows we’re all there right there with him.’

It’s a bittersweet moment. He’s rooting for the U.S. team, of course, but there’s a bit of emptiness too given his Egyptian players won’t be there.

‘When you put everything you have into something then you’re going to have mixed emotions. I feel great about so many things, but in the end for it to be so incredibly disappointing I know Lindsay still feels that with everything went on, the work that we did, the kind of football we played, it just killed her that here we are at the start of the World Cup and we’re not there with those guys,’ he says.

The ‘everything that went on’ was nothing short of a revolution. As Bradley led the team through qualifying, the country was in turmoil.

There was a military takeover, deadly protests and a stadium riot in which 74 fans were killed. When the U.S. State Department advised all Americans living in Egypt to leave the country, the Bradleys stayed.

A documentary chronicling Bradley’s time in Egypt premieres Monday at 10 p.m. ET on PBS.  American Pharaoh, by Egyptian filmmaker Hossam Aboul-Magd, is a compelling look at the impact the Pharaohs, and their American coach, had on the country during the upheaval.

The Pharaohs had hoped to qualify for their first World Cup in almost 20 years. After going 6-0 through its African group phase, Egypt was bounced by Ghana in a two-game playoff.

‘It was an extremely emotional experience for me,’ filmmaker Aboul-Magd says. Getting to know the Bradleys was equally special.

‘What they did for Egyptians, away from cameras when they asked me not to film, these guys have left an enormous impact on Egypt.’

Aboul-Magd is also bracing for a flood of emotions when the Americans face Ghana on Monday. ‘It’s going to be horrible,’ Aboul-Magd says.

‘I don’t know how tough it will be watching that game, but I believe that all Egyptians are going for the U.S. if only to get back at Ghana. And I’m sure Michael will want to do that for his father.’

For more Ghana football news visit www.ghanasoccernet.com

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