Ghana at World Cup – God is in Control?

Sun, 15 Dec 2013 Source: Appiah, Papa

Miracles do occur. Unfortunately, God is not a Ghanaian. Miracles are as much likely to occur for Germans or Portuguese or the United States as for Ghana. That is why, while I do not dare proclaim myself more sensible than the exponents of the TB Joshua school of wisdom, I would humbly plead, that when it comes to matters on the green field that we leave the good old Lord out of it. Believe it or not, fasting and prayers, a thousand alleluias, God is in control, ebeye yie will not help us. After all, God has a sense of humour. He knows nobody is dying here. It is football after all, and the better prepared side will ultimately win. That is why despite all the fasting, no African side has ever won the world cup.

Of course Algeria beat Germany and this was to be followed by the ignominy of a fixed match between Germany and Austria. Of course Cameroon beat Argentina, nobody is disputing that, and Senegal beat France. Some people call these miracles, I call them fluke results! And its fluke with a capital F! In any one match on any given day on a football field between eleven men, anything can happen. But to suggest that these results are the yardstick for assessing Ghana’s chances in the World Cup is simply a joke. Come to think of it, what has Algeria achieved in World football since beating Germany? How many times has Senegal qualified for the World Cup again since beating France, and what has Cameroon achieved since the heroics of Roger Milla. Absolutely nothing!

So somebody should tell our gimmicky president that the world cup is not a political play tool. And preparing for a world cup is not all about big talk, about wearing Black Stars jerseys and releasing pictures of presidential celebrations. It is not about photo opportunities with football stars. It is not even about increasing winning bonuses for our players. For, if a player needs more money to play to qualify for the biggest tournament in the world, then something is wrong. At the World Cup, people play with their heart for the flags of their countries and for the future of their careers.

How much investment have we as a country made in our football since we first qualified for the world cup in 2006? How many new stadia have we built? How many old stadia have been renovated and modernised? How many training centres with facilities such as well-equipped modern gyms have we built? What new innovations in training local coaches to the highest standards have we made? What ratio of coaches to footballers of all ages do we have in our country? How much has our local league improved?

It will interest you, that majority of the people who will criticise me for this article will not be able to remember the last time they watched a Hearts- Ebusua Dwarfs match. They would be people who call themselves Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea fans. I don’t blame them. The standards are higher. But don’t expect to win the World Cup if you don’t support your local league. For, at the end of the day, how long are we going to be able to depend on the generosity of some foreign team to give our players contracts in Europe and train them so we can then call on them for our national team?

Others plan their football. England invested 700 million pounds in the new ultra-modern national team training centre in Burton. Yes of course we are a poor country. We cannot compete in many things. But that argument does not wash with me anymore. Just look at the millions we are simply throwing away in judgement debts. If we are not prepared to make the financial investments, then we should forget about doing well in the World Cup long term. Germany decided to revolutionize their football after the 2006 World Cup and ended up with an unbeatable young side with players like Mesut Ozil.

We have an ageing team of average players and a coach who is at best, a risky choice, so we need a certain level of perspective here. We appear to be taking ourselves too seriously. As for me, I am going to really enjoy this World Cup. I’ll put my feet up with a glass of cold drink and celebrate if Ghana should win. But believe me I will not lose any sleep should we do badly, because frankly, we have not worked hard enough to deserve anything.

Papa Appiah


Columnist: Appiah, Papa