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Can a miracle save the Black Stars?

Blackstars Official The Black Stars may need a miracle to qualify for World Cup in Russia

Mon, 4 Sep 2017 Source: Simon Aikins

The Ghana Black Stars disappointed Ghanaians with their insipid performance by drawing against their Congolese counterparts in a World Cup qualifier that could have put them in a good stead for qualification to the football mundial in Russia, come 2018.

Monitoring events in the media, one could sense the heightened apathy towards the team. Many were indifferent whereas others did not even know the Black Stars were playing a World Cup qualifier. I was surprised at the level of noise made when Congo netted the first goal. That is an evidence that the Black Stars are no more the darling of the nation. Many have attributed the attitude of the supporters to the insatiable demand for outrageous winning bonuses by the current crop of players who do next to nothing. They claim the players are only interested in what goes into their pockets. They believe they have sacrificed patriotism for monetary benefits.

Many things went wrong before the match which were glossed over by the handlers of the team. Some of them are listed below:

Foreign based players did not arrive on time in order to adequately prepare for the team. It is true that their bread is buttered wherever they ply their trade, but they must be made to understand that there is pride and honour in serving your nation. Many players like Ryan Giggs, Abedi Pele, Mohammed Polo, Nii Odartey Lamptey, and Abdul Razak are some of the players who are miles ahead of our players who never had the opportunity to strutt their stuff at the World Cup. They always curse their stars for missing out on such a prestigious tournament. So the current players should not think they are doing the nation a favour by playing. Rather, it enhances their bargaining power on the transfer market as well as the ability to attract first class teams in competitive leagues.

The Ghana Football Association Chairman, Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi and his deputy, George Afriyie have not been on good terms. The one time best friends have suddenly become enemies who do not see eye to eye just because of an alleged Puma deal which is robbing the nation off the expertise of such great minds. Why do I say that? Instead of coming together to strategise to outwit their opponents, they used all that period to settle personal scores at the expense of the nation. When this happens, it breeds indiscipline which continues to fester and ends up killing the interest of supporters. They must know that, a house against itself can never stand.

Tactically, the Black Stars coach, Kwesi Appiah lost the plot against Congo. I doubt if he scouted the Congolese national team. If he did, the match would have been a stroll in the park. The Cranes of Uganda gave Ghana a lifeline by defeating Egypt. The Congolese national team arrived late for the match. Ghana could have taken advantage of all these opportunities offered on a silver platter.The match exposed Kwesi Appiah's weaknesses. There were reports that Harrison Afful was not going to play. He played Joseph Attamah who is a central defender at right back. Attamah was a pale shadow of himself.

To put it mildly, he was roasted. I won't be surprised the player's confidence has been shattered. I hope the player will not lose his place in the team because of his listless performance. He cannot be blamed because he was played out of position. Being a debutant, it was not surprising he was wasted. The coach does not inspire confidence. From his facial expressions, it looked like he had already given up on the team. A leader must at all times by his attitude spur his charges on even when it is obvious they are losing the battle.

It took Dede Ayew and Asamoah Gyan to issue instructions to their team mates. Kwesi Appiah should step up to the plate if he wants to be seen as a serious coach. He must take charge of his backroom staff and not allow players to take his place. He should make local coaches proud with his output, but it looks he will make it extremely difficult for any local coach to be hired to handle the team per his current performances. He should thank Thomas Partey for saving his blushes. If he thinks the team is beyond him, he should resign honourably to save his face.

The fans sent the right message to the players by booing them for performing below par. No one wants to waste his hard earned money on players who will fail to deliver. It is good Asamoah Gyan has admitted the team was shambolic and needs to up the ante. If they want to restore the lost love, they must put up impeccable performances that would paper the cracks at the supporters front.

In conclusion, Russia 2018 is gradually drifting away from Ghana. It would take a miracle to get Ghana there. It would be better not to qualify and stay home, rejuvenate the team than to qualify and make a mess of ourselves. This is the time to find replacements for ageing and complacent players. The over reliance on Asamoah Gyan, Dede Ayew and Harrison is more good than harm.

Their absence spells doom for the team. It is also clear that, anytime they fail to glitter, the team suffers. The football association must in earnest start working on improving the local league by seeking for sponsorship to inject more capital into the league. This will help in reducing the mass exodus of players to inferior leagues. If some players in the team think they are untouchables, they should be shown the exit, for it is better to sacrifice such a person and save the team from disgrace than to allow them to negatively influence the team which will hurt the team.

All those who believe Ghana will qualify based on their calculations, let the calculators do the calculations and pray Ghana qualifies. We wish the team well as they embark on this arduous journey. It is time to redeem their image and save themselves from public ridicule. Can a miracle save the Black Stars? Your guess is as good as mine.

Columnist: Simon Aikins