By AMAKYE ANSAH
• Ghana has hit rock bottom
• The fear factor is gone
• We are no more the superpower
When disaster is about to strike, it periodically rings an alarm, it sometimes does not. Calamity has been knocking on the doors of Ghana football for quite a long time but we have turned deaf ears to it.
Ghana football: both clubs and national teams are now a huge mess.
Accra Hearts of Oak was massacred and destroyed in North Africa in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederations Cup by Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco and JS Saoura of Algeria respectively. 10-1 combined scoreline in the two games in North Africa, the most embarrassing campaign by any Ghanaian football club ever happened in 2021. Our football chiefs never minded that humiliation clearly because they have a certain Black Stars to cover them.
Ghana was a mess in Cameroon. In a group against Morocco, Gabon and Comoros, Black Stars failed to deliver, finished last in that group. How do we explain to our great-great-great-great-grandchildren that Comoros: ranked 132 by FIFA, in their debut AFCON scored their first-ever goal against Ghana, won their first-ever game at the AFCON against Ghana? It is very pitiful.
LOSS OF FEAR FACTOR
The fear factor we used to bully our opponents with is dead and gone. Ghana played very well in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups. Czech Republic, USA, Serbia, Uruguay and Germany gave us great respect in the aforementioned World Cups. How will we fare if we meet these opponents now?
Benin drew with Ghana in 2019 AFCON, Comoros just humiliated us. Yes! Comoros.
These two results coupled with our inability to dominate in recent games against Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and South Africa in Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers shows how our standard has fallen.
Egypt qualified ahead of Ghana in the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Tunisia eliminated Ghana in the 2019 AFCON. Ahead of the 2021 AFCON: in Qatar, Algeria thrashed Black Stars by 3-0 in a warm-up game. Morocco defeated Ghana in the opening game of Cameroon 2021 AFCON. For club football, North Africa are miles ahead of us.
These North Africans now have a huge mental edge over Ghana in football. Libya will soon join their brothers in humiliating Ghana if we do not plan well.
Flashback to 1987 when Kotoko thrashed Zamalek 5-1. In 2000, Hearts of Oak defeated Esperance home and way in the CAF Champions League finals. No Ghanaian club can win on aggregate against any Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria clubs in any CAF clubs competition. Even Libyan clubs are far better than Ghanaian clubs.
It is a decade long now since any Ghanaian club made it to the group stage of the CAF Champions League and the nation seems to not care. Our domestic league is a mess now. Our pitches are poor, no headline sponsor and our clubs are in financial difficulty.
The moment the president requested for corporate Ghana to support the government to raise $25million for the Black Stars to prepare for both 2021 AFCON and 2022 FIFA World Cup sum up how poor we are regarding planning for our football. Instead of investing in our cash strapped local league, we waste huge sums on the Black Stars. The wait for the coveted AFCON trophy will proceed if we continue not to invest in our local league.
We have spent more than $40 Million since 2012 on Black Stars. It is only on the Africa Cup of Nations. What is wrong with us?
How can you promise each player $30,000 and the coach $60,000 just to beat the lowly 132nd FIFA ranked team?
The last time we made an impact on the world stage in youth football was way back in 2013 in the FIFA U-20 World Cup when we finished third. 1995 was the last time we won the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Black Meteors last qualified for the Olympics games in Athens 2004, It is 18 good years now and Black Meteors have failed to qualify for the last 5 Olympic games.
Our football gurus don’t care again because they have a particular old Black Stars where cash will flow for them.
LET US FACE REALITY AND DO THE NECESSARY
The stark reality now is that Ghana is no more the powerhouse we used to be. We have concealed behind the four AFCON titles we have won for quite a long time. The last of the 4 was won 40 years ago.
The last time any Ghanaian club won CAF Champions League was 22 years ago. 1993 was the last time a Ghanaian footballer (Abedi Pele) won Africa Footballer of the year. Andre Dede Ayew was the last Ghanaian footballer to finish on the Africa Footballer of the year podium in 2015 when he finished 3rd. Asamoah Gyan finished second in 2010 when Samuel Eto’o won it and he is the last Ghanaian footballer to finish higher on the African Footballer of the year podium since Micheal Essien finished 2nd in 2007 to Frederic Kanoute.
How can Ghana be in the same bracket just as Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia, Ivory Coast and Cameroon? Simply, Ghana has hit rock bottom. Our club football is shambolic and the national teams are declining.
WHAT WE LEARNT FROM THE COMOROS DEFEAT
The defeat to Comoros was a blessing in disguise. The surprise defeat finally notified the everyday Ghanaian that Ghanaians have lost interest in the nation.
Most callers on Aben FM in Ejisu rejoiced over Ghana’s defeat to Comoros. One caller predicted a 17-0 win in favour of Comoros, others thanked Comoros after the game for making their dream come true.
Where is the patriotism we showed from 2006 to 2015 towards the Black Stars? How do we get it back?
How did you wail when Sammy Kuffuor calamitously gifted Vicenzo Iaquinta a pass and he rounded off OLELE in our first ever World Cup game in Hanover in 2006?
What was the feeling like when Gyan put us ahead against the Czech Republic in the 2006 World Cup? What about Muntari’s wonderful goal against Uruguay in South Africa in 2010?
How did u feel when then 36-year-old Lazio Striker Klose equalised with his first touch for Germany in Brazil 2014 World Cup against Ghana?
The whole nation was spiritually behind the team but that is not the case now simply because Ghanaians feel that the Sports Ministry and the Ghana Football Association have been spending unnecessarily all in the name of Black Stars.
We have to accept the fact that we are no more at the 2006 to 2015 level. Hence, we need to conduct a root and branch review of our football. I will be very much surprised if our leaders ever dare to invest millions of dollars once again in Black Stars alone.
Massive investment should be made in our grassroots football and the domestic league. Football academies must be built across the country and we need long term developmental plans for our football. $25 million can help us solve most of the perennial issues bedevilling our football, especially our pitches. Ghana need to provide better pitches for the domestic league.