2002 in Review: Soccer and Jerseys
The Africa Cup of Nations was the first major football tournament that Ghana participated in during the year 2002. Ghana went to the tournament without several established players as the GFA commenced a team building process that they said would culminate in qualification for the 2006 Africa Cup.
By the time the tournament was over however, the Black Stars had made the headline for all the wrong reasons.
And even though controversies after major tournaments have become a ritual in Ghana, never has a post mortem on the most basic and trivial issue of team kits become an issue, as was the case after Ghana finished in the last eight of the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations.
When the Ghana Airways plane carrying the team touched down at the Kotoka International Airport, there was one question every journalist wanted to ask. Why were the teams jerseys so poor? Football Association Chairman and delegation leader, Ben Koufie insisted otherwise but as the questions and criticisms rained in, Mr. Koufie snapped, lost his cool and declared infamously that he owes no one an apology for what was in truth, poor handling of Ghana football on a foreign land.
Ejection Of Kuffour
The jersey provided by acclaimed German giants Addidas was a major source of discontent in the team?s camp. The players, mostly complained on the quite but Samuel Osei Kuffuor spoke out. The problem, according to Youth and Sports Minster, Edward Osei Kweku was that Kuffour went too far with his complaints
So Kuffour was ejected from the team?s camp, accused of being a bad influence on the younger players. Kuffour contended the basis for his ejection, arguing that it had been orchestrated by some FA officials including ex-Black Stars captain, Abedi Ayew Pele to embarrass him.
Pele never reacted to the issue until recently when he told JOY NEWS that there was absolutely no basis in the accusations. The Maestro also contested the view that the jerseys the team used for the tournament was of poor quality. He insisted that it was the best possible material Addidas got for Ghana considering the hot climatic conditions of the time. Even then, Abedi says Ghanaians spent too much time after the tournament discussing the quality of jerseys when there were more pressing issues that needed urgent attention.
In his estimation, Ghana did not fare bad at the tournament. ''Considering the fact that we took an inexperienced team and still got through from a group that included teams like Morocco and South Africa who were all playing at full strength, I don?t think we fared badly''.
Depressing Negatives And Rays Of Hope
Good point but for those of us who observed the competition from close range, the depressing negatives from the tournament would be etched in our memories for a long time to come.
The colourless expression on the faces of the players after the meals and their constant moaning about what they called poor human relationship of FA Chairman Ben Koufie is as fresh now as it was then.
There was also the case of a coach who would narrate truckloads of problems to journalists and backtrack with remarkable effectiveness when the issues came up publicly.
Amid the gloom however, there were very good reasons to be hopeful. The performance of players like goalkeeper Sammy Adjei, John Mensah, Michael Essien and Razak Ibrahim provided proof that Ghana, long noted for producing some of the finest players on the African continent is still a star factory.