Sports Features Wed, 10 Jul 2019
After the 2017 AFCON disappointment where Ghana were beaten 2-0 by Cameroon in the semi-finals, I wrote an article with the title – Ghana likely to extend 35 years AFCON trophy-less run for the next 10 years.Two years on, the article looks much more relevant than what I even crafted in 2017.
‘It’s coming home’ – was the clarion call by many Ghanaians, mostly politicians, providing the national team with the best of preparations, camping and financial support, yet it did not come home.
Coach Kwasi Appiah and all the players are quoted to have said on several occasions that this is the best preparations the Black Stars have ever enjoyed ahead of a major your tournament like the AFCON, yet it did not come home.
When I wrote the article in 2017, I sounded prophetic but in actual fact you don’t even need a prophet to tell you Ghana may never win the AFCON again.
Yes, Ghana may NEVER win the AFCON again.
Strange isn’t it?
But that is surely what is likely to happen in subsequent AFCONS and Ghana could extend their trophy-less run at the tournament to 45 years, perhaps 50 or 60 years, or forever.
I am not sounding a prophet of doom but the strange happenings in the country, especially during the just ended Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt creates the impression that the wait will not end now, at least not in the next ten years.
Many a time, pundits of the game claim football has the power to unify people, groups and a nation at large but this assertion has been defeated by the current wind blowing in Ghana and that gives me the impression that it will take a much longer time to get to the Promised Land.
The reason is simple; Party Politics. Party politics have always divided Ghanaians but football has proved to be the unifying element.
Unfortunately, politicians have succeeded in infesting that element of unity with their political chants breaking the country’s only component of togetherness.
As a writer, I have witnessed the conduct of Ghanaians whenever the Black Stars are playing a game but what I saw this year was absolutely amazing.
When Ghana lost to Tunisia, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw some Ghanaians jubilating on social media, expressing their happiness over the defeat.
I was completely bewildered, flummoxed and flabbergasted, and for a moment, I thought I was dreaming. Is this Ghana? I asked.
Isn’t it strange that Ghana, since 2008, Ghana has always been in the semi finals of the AFCON but could not even make it to the quarter final in Egypt?
Ghana was in the finals in 2010 in Angola and in the 2015 edition in Gabon.
In 2015 when the Black Stars lost the finals to Ivory Coast through the lottery of penalty kicks, NPP sympathisers, supporters and known party officials demonstrated publicly, their overwhelming happiness over the defeat simply because the NDC party would have claimed credit for that. Ghanaians were shockingly caught jubilating over the loss.
On radio, TV and on social media, NPP Communicators and party executives publicly claimed the only party to end the trophyless run is the NPP. In fact, it was even a party agenda – winning the AFCON.
Then came 2017, the NPP government had then assumed office, taking the leadership mantle from the NDC at a time the Black Stars had already qualified for the AFCON in Gabon.
President Nana Akufo-Addo and his government held series of meetings with the team and encouraged them to go for the trophy. Camping and all the necessary support the team needed were provided but again, Ghana failed.
The Black Stars were beaten by eventual winners Cameroon at the semi finals stage by 2-0 to send Ghana parking.
The NDC saw it as a good platform to settle scores.
Radio discussions, TV shows and social media were dominated by the defeat and NDC Communicators and leaders also took advantage of that to swipe the NPP.
The usualp battle started and the NDC descended heavily on the NPP government.
Social media was erupting at the same time with similar chants. Some NDC members don’t want the Black Stars to win AFCON because the NPP party will include it in their next manifesto as an achievement.
I know many communicators of the main opposition party, NDC, who were very excited with the loss of the Black Stars and strangely, they couldn’t hold it but to make it public. With this attitude, expect Ghana to keep waiting for the AFCON trophy for a much longer time.
In 2012, Zambia did not have the best team to win the AFCON but the country was united.
In 2013, Nigeria won the tournament with a lowly fancied side which had some local players not because their side was the best team, but because Nigerians supported Stephen Keshie to win it.
Cameroon came to the AFCON in 2017, and won it with 8 of their too players choosing club over country.
Apart from Egypt that won the AFCON in 2006, 2008 and 2010 with a strong and formidable side, all the other countries that have won the AFCON have done so with just a united side and not because they had the best teams.
But in Ghana politicians have succeeded in making anything political in the country and majority of Ghanaians now view everything with political party lenses.
And since this will not end now, Black Stars will not win now.
Research has shown that for every country to be able to win a major tournament like the AFCON or the World Cup, there are three thematic areas they must tackle;
– The unity and common sense of purpose of the team
– The technical and tactical sharpness of the coach and players
– The unity, togetherness and sense of solidarity from the country.
Sadly, the last part was missing when the Black Stars were at the AFCON.
The country was divided, while some were supporting the team, others were rooting strongly against the team.
Is it not amazing for a Ghanaian to argue that since his party failed to win the AFCON, the ruling party will also not win it?
When is this ending as Ghana’s quest for the trophy intensifies?
Will the NPP also do same to the NDC when they (NPP) are also in opposition?
And so long as we will continue to be divided as a country to the extent of wishing the country fails in a competition because of politics, we shall wallow in the quest for the trophy but can never win it.
If you fail to go to heaven, don’t blame Jesus.
People will point accusing fingers at players and coaches for Ghana’s unsuccessful attempt to win the AFCON despite our numerous attempts but will fail to nail it right on the head.