When will Ghana stop shooting itself in the foot?
They were the pride of Africa at the 2010 World Cup. South Africans adopted them and called them "BaGhana, BaGhana” (the South African national team is called Bafana Bafana).
Full of flair, fight, intelligent play, spectacular goals and some audacious play, they were so good that, if not for a missed penalty, they would have become Africa's first nation to grace the semifinals of a World Cup. Who knows, they might have just gone all the way. That’s how good the Black stars of Ghana were just two-and-a-half years ago.
Ghana's best talent of the moment, Andre Ayew and his brother Jordan Ayew, both announced their temporary retirement from the national team, citing irreconcilable differences with the technical crew and the Football Association. These two top Marseille of France stars were dropped from the just concluded Africa Cup of nations.
Last week Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari scored as AC Milan team beat the mighty Barcelona 2-0. For whatever reason they do not feature in the Black Stars line-up and were absent at the Afcon!
In a few days, Ghana will have to negotiate a dicey World Cup 2014 qualifier v Sudan and it looks like they might be doing so without their best players.
I do not know about you but I keep asking myself, why is Ghana so bent on shooting itself in the foot?
The Ghana we saw at the Afcon were a shadow of the immense talent in this nation. When will we learn that it benefits no one to go on building by in-fighting? When will egos be put aside in the interest of the nation and the poor fans, whose joy and source of pride is bound around the national glory of Africa's No 1 sport, football?
Situations like these are so irritating that you ask yourself certain questions: Would you go to war without your best generals in the army? Ever heard of a team that won titles by in-fighting?
Has Ghana got so many world class stars at the moment to neglect the services of the Ayew brothers even if they are wayward? Who benefits from this in-fighting, other than the European clubs of these players? What legacy do these players want to leave behind after the curtain comes down on their careers? Has the coach got full control of the situation and is the FA allowing the poor fellow freedom to work? These questions are endless but the solution might be simple after all.
The quality of football and the way Ghana played at Afcon 2013 surely confirms that this team cannot do without the enterprising play of the Ayew brothers. The lack of cohesion in their defensive organisation and attack build-up, coupled with their inefficiency in front of goal clearly states that the technical crew could do with some improvement, not necessarily change.
A soccer team plays like a team and is successful when the team feels that the trainer/coach has the final say in team selection and discipline. Less interference from outside would do the nation a lot of good and the players too.
The Ayew brothers too have to understand that should Ghana not qualify for the next World Cup and they are not part of the qualifiers they will never be forgiven by Ghanaians. Their value as players will take a hit because, like it or not, World Cup performances will only improve their market value.
Should this in-fighting provoke further negative results, the Brand of Ghana might take a hit that could take decades to put right.
Asamoah Gyan was a force to reckon with at the 2010 World Cup and he was far from what he was then. Ask yourself, in what league was he plying his trade in 2010 to prepare for the World Cup and where does he play today. Ask yourself, what kind of players did he have around him, feeding him with quality assists and keeping the other defenders busy while he snuck in to score goals, and what does he have to work with now? Answers to these questions will help you understand why Ghana is really shooting itself in the foot.
I honestly feel that the Ghanaian FA and the players mean well but misunderstandings are clearly present. An urgent and well-meant peace meeting by the sports ministry, including all involved actors and not representatives, will be worth GOLD.
Ghana have the potential to be "the Germans of Africa" (solid, regular, disciplined and result-oriented) and they have proven that in the recent past. At the moment that potential is not being harnessed due to self-inflicted wounds.
Let's hope, for the sake of our dear Ghanaians and Africa in general, that they get their act together, because representation of Africa by Ghana in Brazil is definitely a plus for Africa. So we wish them a speedy recovery from their foot wounds!