The Black Stars
The Black Stars on Tuesday evening exited prematurely from the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations badly bruised in Garoua, Cameroon.
The once feared football powerhouse on the continent lost 2-3 to a less fancied side, Comoros, on an evening expectations of Ghanaians and Cameroonians alike were high anticipating the Stars of Africa to make it to the last 16 stage.
But Ghana failed miserably, reducing the brand that the Baba Yaras, Aggrey Fynns, Osei Kofis, Mohammed Polos, Abukari Dambas, Joe Carrs, Abdul Razaks, Opoku Nitis, Abedi Peles, Michael Essiens, Stephen Appiahs, John Mensahs, Asamoah Gyans, and Sammy Adjeis fought for with blood and tears.
Indeed, the Stars became a public ridicule at a point at the Stadium when almost all the serious attack from the Islanders (Comoros) resulted in a goal.
The defeat made the one hour air trip from northern Garoua to Cameroon’s capital of Yaounde as though it was a day’s journey.
The football fanatic Cameroonians wondered whether it was the same Black Stars that once lifted the flag of Ghana and the image of the entire continent aloft.
Milovan Rajevac Second Coming
Football administrators got it all wrong by reappointing the Serbian, taking into account how coaches all over the world have failed during their second spells.
Besides that, records of Rajevac, who abandoned Ghana midway after using Ghana as a decoy to enrich his CV fared badly with all the employers he worked for. In fact, he was fired midway a tournament when he was in charge of Thailand.
Yet, our football administrators went on to reappoint the Serbian who hours to their last game against Comoros hid behind the excuse that his team lack quality charges.
His failure to vary his tactics which culminated in his late substitutions in his first two games gave him out.
Pre Tourney Preparation
Ahead of the competition, Ghana pitched camp in Doha for three weeks.
Many thought the exercise was to get the players acclimatised to a weather similar to that of the host country.
However, we arrived in Cameroon only to realise that the weather was similar to that of Ghana, and so did not make financial logic flying the team far away to Doha in Qatar.
In fact, the weather at Garoua (northern Cameroon) where Comoros humiliated Ghana, was as hot as the northern part of Ghana.
So, they could have pitched camp in Ghana and saved bleeding mother Ghana some good cash.
Night Club/ Hotel
Again, our checks reveal that the country’s football governing body, Ghana Football Association (GFA) failed to embark on a proper recce mission due to their long stay in Doha, which resulted in landing a ‘bad hotel’.
It emerged that the Moroccans advance team succeeded in landing one of the best hotels in the capital conducive to player conditioning.
But we found our Stars in a hotel right at the heart of town housing a night club, which we gathered that some of the players were regular patrons.
Group Stage Debacle
For the first time in the history of Ghana football, the Black Stars failed woefully to qualify from a Group that housed Morocco, Gabon and Comoros.
What makes it worse is the fact that the competition required that three best teams advance to the last 16 stage, yet the four-time African champions failed in their attempt, picking just a point from a possible nine points.
The issue of player selection to a large extent affected the team’s performance in the competition due to some external forces. It came up that some management members had influence in player selection and ensured that they pushed for their players’ interest.
For instance, it is known that lower tier goalkeeper Joseph Luke Wollacott, who displayed a below average performance, is a management member’s mentee.
It raised the question why Ghana, noted to have produced quality shot stoppers from the likes of Robert Mensah, Joe Carr, Owusu Mensah, Mohammed Odoom, Salifu Ansah, Eddie Ansah, Simon Addo, Anthony Osei Kwadwo, Ibrahim Dossey, the Owoo Brothers+ Ben and George, Ali Jaraah to the present day keepers like Felix Annang, Razak Abalora, Ibrahim Danlard etc. will settle for a goalkeeper of Wollacott calibre.
Rajevac Not Resigning
The Serbian gathered courage to put up an appearance at the post match press conference, and when questioned whether he will lay down his tools as the coach of the Black Stars, he stated emphatically that he is still at post and that he wants to qualify Ghana for the World Cup play-offs.
“I will not resign, because I came to take this team to the World Cup,” the Serbian said after the game.
“We didn’t start the game against Comoros how we wanted and we conceded an early goal. It was a poor start for us and then the red card to Andre Ayew changed everything. I think Comoros deserved this win because they played very well than us,” Rajevac added.
Ghana needed a win to progress.
Ministry, Africa Origin Good Organisation
The Youth and Sports Ministry in collaboration with Africa Origin and Sports Tourism rolled out one of the best programmes by way of organisation+accommodation, transport and feeding, and COVID tests.
A lot of talks have gone on, still going on and will continue to go on if there are no drastic changes.
And by radical changes, I mean regrouping and changing from the current ways of handling the national teams which has landed us nowhere to a more pragmatic approach.
It is said that if you want to jump higher, you move backwards (paraphrased).
No Crying Over Spilt Milk
We should put what has happened behind quickly and focus on what lies ahead of us. It is also said that no one can lead an orchestra by looking back. Focus should be the key word moving forward.
Indeed, we should take a big lesson from the beautiful ‘stories’ told by countries like Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and ‘our beloved’ foes Comoros.
They indeed made a case for the domestic league and proved a point that if there is no point investing so much in our ‘burgars’ when a paltry sum would be enough to motivate our local charges to the extra mile for us.
In fact, we gathered that Equatorial Guinea pocketed $900 as winning bonus yet demonstrated gross patriotism as against our Stars who had thousands of dollars at stake as winning bonus yet, played as though there was nothing at stake.
For the less fancied sides mentioned above, representing their respective countries was enough motivation.
I am not saying Ghana should not reward the Stars, but they have demonstrated in recent past that they care little about Ghana.
Ministry Summons GFA
The timing for the summoning of the GFA is so right taking into account what has happened to the Black Stars and our various national teams.
Many have suggested giving much attention to the local league, so we can pick the best from the rich pool of talents God has blessed us with as a country.
And per the kind of football Sierra Leone are displaying, does it mean their league is better than ours? Certainly no, but we saw cohesion and the demonstration of great team spirit.
I will plead with the Sports Minister, Mustapha Ussif and his team to tell the FA in the face to accord our league with the support it deserves.
It has emerged that some management, technical members and the coach’s selfish interest in pushing for the selection of their players has resulted in the assembly of the players we paraded in Cameroon.
Supporters Press Conference
The Black Stars situation has become so bad that the leadership of the various supporters groups have some concerns about the team they want to address.
It is high time the stakeholders regrouped, map out drastic strategies to rediscover our true identity as a force to reckon with in football circles, not only on the continent, but on the global stage at large.
For me, Black Stars checking out was a good riddance because the team has become so terrible that one struggles to watch them play at the stadium.