Sports News Mon, 2 Dec 2019
The period 2009 to 2019 has been one of mixed fortunes for the Black Stars and to a larger extent Ghana football.Aided by the all-conquering Under-20 side of 2009, the Black Stars experienced some high moments and chalked historic feats. The team also experienced some very low and turbulent times in that period and the 2014 World Cup disaster and 2019 AFCON round 16 exit are reference points of how the stocks of the once mighty football nation fell within the period.
It has been a decade of two AFCON finals, three semis, one round 16 knockout and two World Cups of which one ended in a landmark quarter-final finish while the other ended in a round one exit with a huge bag of disgrace.
Within the period some players have also impressed with their consistent performance for the Black Stars.
As the year 2020 approaches, ushering us into a new sporting decade, ghanaweb.com compiles the best eleven players to have played for the Black Stars between 2009 and 2019.
GhanaWeb Black Stars XI of the decade
Richard ‘Olele’ Kingson
An easy pick for the goalkeeping position. Olele has been Ghana’s safest pair of hands in the last ten years.
Though his exploits came in the first two years of the decade, the performance of his predecessors have not been enough to upstage him.
Olele was key feature of Ghana’s team that finished second in the 2010 AFCON in Angola.
He also stood out at the World Cup with some fine saves to help Ghana finish in the last eight.
His last major tournament was the world cup but the likes of Kwarasey, Fatau Dauda, Stephen Ofori and others who replaced him have failed to match his performance for Ghana.
There’s an undeletable memory of him running around with the Ghana flag at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium after that Asamoah Gyan goal against the United States.
A man who went about his work diligently and quietly and always gave off his best for the country.
He doesn’t get mentioned a lot of times but from the qualifiers of the 2010 World Cup and AFCON to the 2013 AFCON where he last represented the country in a tournament, John Paintsil excelled beyond expectations.
Samuel Inkoom and Daniel Opare, products of the u-20 World Cup winning team were expected to fill the void but it has not yet materialized and it does not look like either of the two fullbacks will reach the standard set by the former Fulham defender.
A right-footed player who played excellently at left-back, Afful has been one of Ghana’s standout players in the last decade.
Afful made his Ghana debut in 2008 and has been integral member of the team since 2012.
He has over 80 caps for Ghana.
The ‘Rock of Gibraltar turned 37 recently and Ghanaians duly celebrated albeit a few trolls for his age.
A fans’ favourite with this unique hairstyle. John Mensah typified the frequently abused phrase ‘dependable defender’.
When fit, he was a beast and a rock at the heart of the Ghana defence. He led Ghana to the 2012 AFCON where they nation finished among the best four teams of the tournament.
Tagged the next John Mensah, Jonathan is also another member of the Black Satellites team who were immediately drafted into the Black Stars by coach Milovan Rajevac.
Jonathan was billed to be the perfect replacement for the legendary John Mensah but he has not met the lofty standards set for him.
That notwithstanding he has been a regular face in the Black Stars, featuring in every tournament since the 2010 AFCON.
John Boye and Vorsah also did well in the period but Jonathan edges them with his consistency.
Talk of passion, agility and hard work and you have Mubarak Wakaso.
His display for then club, Espanyol caught the eye of coach Kwesi Appiah in 2013 and he has been mainstay in the team since then.
His set-piece skills, long balls and efficient screening of the defence has earned him several admirations.
In the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, Wakaso stood out as Ghana’s best player.
Into injury time of first half and from 35 metres out, Muntari releases a thunderous drive that beat Muslera to give Ghana a lead against Uruguay.
Ghana will go on to lose the match but that was what Sulley was known for. The man for the big occasion who stood up when the going got tough for Ghana.
His transformation from a pacey winger to a central midfielder remains one of the best stories in Ghana football.
In that 6-1 victory over Egypt in 2013, Muntari and his good friend Essien produced one of the best midfield performances one could ever witness.
Kwadwo divides opinions. Questions remain about his commitment to the Black Stars and there is a perception that he doesn’t give off his best for the country but at the 2010 World Cup and 2010 and 2013 AFCONs, the former Udinese man gave us reasons to give him a spot in this team.
His ability to weave through a flurry of defensive legs and spot the run of a forward to give a pass that with a good touch results in a goal. His versatility to play in various positions must also count for something.
Kwadwo is that good and deserve a place here.
There has not been a turning back since his debut in 2008. The son of the Maestro led Ghana to gold at the under-20 level in 2009 and has become a key cog in the senior team since then.
Ayew’s pace and skillset which were his trademark in the early part of his career have slowed but the Swansea star has developed into a decent goal scorer.
His long-term service to the Black Stars was rewarded with the captaincy position amid some controversies.
Greatest goal scorer in Ghana’s history. Gyan is without a shred of doubt the best Black Stars player in the last decade.
His misses might have caused Ghanaians heartaches but without his goals, we would be nowhere.
Atsu completes our list of the first eleven players since 2009. He announced his presence with a great performance against Egypt in 2013 and has gone on to feature in every tournament then.
His recognition of Best Player at the 2015 AFCON proves how much of an asset he has been to the team in the last ten years.