Breaking hearts and smiling to dollars
I have been trying as hard as many Ghanaians are doing to come to terms with the Fiasco of Ghana’s third participation in this 2014 football mundial. The bizarre circumstances that led to the Black Stars exit from the world cup remain and will continue to remain a dent in our collective conscience.
Prior to going for this world cup, Ghana had been at two world cups with sterling performance. In 2006, at our maiden appearance in Germany, Ghana shrugs off the bluff of the Czech Republic and the USA but succumbed to the Azures of Italy. In the next stage, the Black Stars despite playing superior football, lost to Brazil in the 1/16th stage.
The team was the toast of Africa and was welcome to medal decoration by the Nation. The pump and pageantry that greeted the teams’ arrival was legendary. Indeed, on their arrival, many intentional flights were delayed for more than an hour as the entire airport was jammed with Ghanaians of all walks of life who throng the airport to offer a heroes’ welcome.
Despite our exit, Ghana was undauntedly the best that happened to Africa at the 2006 world cup, thus living to our credo of always leading the way for Africa.
The next world cup in 2010 was hosted in South Africa and Ghana this time defied the oars and came out of the group stage. We beat Serbia, drew with Germany and beat Australia. At the 1/16th stage we dismissed the USA and outplayed Uruguay in the quarter finals yet lost because Shuarez would turn a goal keeper to catch the ball. Obviously, Ghana was denied a semifinals berth by the inglorious action of the Uruguayan.
Again, the entire Africa would rally with enthusiastic support for the Black Stars as they lived to the Credo of Ghana “sempe cum optimus” (always among the best). The unequal performance of the Black Stars made Former South African president Madiba Nelson Mandela honour the teams’ heroic performance by granting them audience in his residence.
The teams welcome to Ghana was rapturous and the Nation through the Presidency honoured and eulogized their gallantry with a luncheon and financial package. What a performance they exhibited!
Hopes went soaring, when the Black Stars through the qualification stages went through after dismissing Zambia who needed a draw from our last match to scale through for the 2014 world cup. The Black Stars eventually sealed qualification to the world cup when they thumbed and trounced the might of the pharaohs of Egypt with a historic score line of 6:1 in the play offs.
Ghana had qualified for the third consecutive time for the world cup and our continent was overjoyed. The Black Stars were tipped to do better than their two previous world cups. At least a semifinal was the minimum.
When the world cup started, Ghana lost to the USA in a game every watcher believed we had the lions share in play but lost due to porous and immature tactical theatricals. Pundits held then that the “whipping boys” in the group was the USA team. So hopes was dim for the black Stars particularly after Germany pulled a stunner by humiliating Portugal 4:0. After the Match, our coach said he “reserved his best players so that when the US team got tired he would field them”. Hmmm really?
The Blacks Stars are the Stars in the skies. In their game against Germany, which has been credited by FIFA as the best match in the 2014 world cup so far, Germany struggled to level the score at 2:2. For sure, this is a game we won but threw the victory to the dogs by ill and uninformed tactical decisions. The players were a delight to watch but management was a disaster.
For instance, at the time Ghana was leading, the German Coach brought out two defenders and introduced two offensive players. Instead of our coach to defend our lead, he cluelessly, brought in attacking midfielders thus paving way for the Germans to equalize. But and for sure the players were delightful and brought a glimmer of hope to the nation and continent that we can scale the group stages.
Before the next match, conspiracy theorists held that the USA and Germany would simply play a fixed game to seal qualification from the group stage since both teams need just a point each to qualify. The conspiracy thickened when recall is made that the Coach of the USA was the head Coach of Germany in 2006 and his assistant in that world cup is the current Head Coach of Germany. Above all, both are Germans.
My German friends called to assure me that Germany would beat the USA so that when we beat Portugal, Ghana and Germany would qualify. I did not believe them, but they were right.
Germany beat the USA 1:0, but Ghana lost to Portugal 2:1. What a heartbreak! What a calamity, what a shock? Our nation was traumatized and Africa went into coma. The Black Stars are out!
Before the match, reports came that some players have been sacked from camp and worst the team would refuse to play until their appearance fees was paid them. Under pressure and wanting the team to qualify, government airlifted over three million dollars to Brazil escorted by Brazilian security. It was a nasty sight as some players unashamedly kissed their share of dollars to the chagrin of Ghanaians.
Our third world cup appearance has been catastrophically disastrous, finito!