By Osumanu Al-Hassan
As a Ghanaian I was elated when the local senior national team the Black Stars gave Big Brother Nigeria the slip to zoom into the grand finale of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa.
As much as I am excited at the feat the team has chalked, I am more than exhilarated for Coach Maxwell Konadu for stealing a match against celebrated Nigeria coach, Stephen Keshie.
I have no doubt that when Nigeria qualified for the semi final and were awaiting their opponents from the match between Ghana and Congo, they would have prayed for the Black Stars to be knocked out.
This would have been a huge favour for the Super Eagles who have always found it extremely difficult to overdo the Black Stars.
An elderly gentleman and a clearly excited fan of the Black Stars, after watching Ghana qualify for the CHAN final at the expense of Keshi's Super Eagles, stretched his lanky body leisurely and remarked, "Maxwell Konadu npo ni, na Kwesi Appiah." To wit; this is Maxwell Konadu, not to talk of Kwesi Appiah. Insinuating that Konadu, though a rookie as a national team coach, yet still led the team to beat Nigeria managed by its celebrated coach Stephen Keshi and that the story would have been even more gloomy for the Super Eagles had Kwesi Appiah been in charge.
Funny as it sounds, the man made my day with his last sentence, "...not to talk of Kwesi Appiah." I got the impression that finally Ghanaians are beginning to appreciate Kwesi Appiah as the senior national team coach.
I believe South Africa and indeed the rest of the continent and the world at large finally got their prayers answered albeit one year late, and on a much smaller continental tournament to see these two passionate footballing nations lock horns.
During the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2013 also in South Africa, many prayed for a Ghana-Nigeria finale, which incidentally didn't happen.
Nigeria's Super Eagles, also managed by Coach Keshi demolished Mali in the first semi-final match and cruised into the final to wait the winner of the other semi-final match between the Black Stars of Ghana and the Stallions of Burkina Faso.
The preferred choice of opponent for football fans and pundits, especially the South African soccer fans for the grand finale at Soccer City in Soweto was Ghana, especially with the 2010 World Cup heroics of the team still fresh on their minds.
The sooner we forget that eventful semi-final clash against Burkina Faso at the Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
South Africa did not get that craving wish to see the Black Stars managed by Kwesi Appiah take on the Super Eagles managed by Stephen Keshi in that epic AFCON 2013 grand finale.
Incidentally, as fate would have it, South Africa finally got its wish a year later to see the Black Stars take on the Super Eagles but this time with Kwesi Appiah's protégé, Maxwell Konadu stepping into the shoes of his boss to face off against Nigeria's legendary coach Stephen Keshi.
The match was not the final of the CHAN but as usual it came with all the excitement and for Ghanaians, the satisfaction of seeing the Black Stars under Maxwell Konadu vanquish big brother Nigeria coached by no less a person than Stephen Keshi himself was more than enough compensation regardless of what happens in the grand finale against Libya. Forget the victory came by way of penalty shoot-out
As the elderly gentleman noted, the Black Stars played the 'final' of the tournament against Nigeria in the semi-final.
For the old man and perhaps many Ghanaian fans, lifting the CHAN trophy for the first time would be exciting but even if the team fails against Libya, the victory of Maxwell Konadu over Stephen Keshi would be enough compensation.
As the adage goes, no matter how high the Eagles fly, the Black Stars would be waiting for them in the high heavens.
For coach Keshi and Nigeria's Super Eagles we say, "Indeed, Konadu npo ni, na Kwesi Appiah!