It’s difficult enough watching a particularly crucial match, but harder still when the participants are your own flesh and blood. The emotions are heightened and the atmosphere bubbles. Knuckles whiten as they grip the seat below, butterflies flutter in the pit of the stomach and the heart begins to pound, seemingly aiming to escape the ribcage itself.
You might think that by now Maha Ayew had become used to the pressure of watching her loved ones do battle on the tensest of occasions. After all, her husband is Abedi Pele, among the greatest African players of all time and a Champions League winner with Marseille in 1993. Her brother-in-law Kwame played 25 times for Ghana.
Her three sons have all played for the national team, two sustaining long careers at the top of the English game. And yet, on 28th November 2022, she found herself leaving her seat at Education City Stadium in Qatar, calmly walking down the stairs and quietly slipping out of the arena. It was all too much.