Let us say it as it is, Ghana football is terminally sick! It is increasingly bleeding to death. There is no scintilla of doubt about it. There is no shred of uncertainty about this contention.
And, it came to pass rather painfully once again that the Black Stars broke the hearts of the nation last Thursday night after they were beaten 2-0 by the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon at the semi-final stage of the just-ended African Cup of Nations in Gabon.
The Asamoah Gyan-led side had promised to win the trophy for the country and break the 35-year-old stygian silence since they lifted the trophy for the fourth time in Libya’82 – but the dream was hurled up in smoke by a well-composed Cameroonian side.
It is sad that Ghana had reached the semi-final stage in each of the last six tournaments, but have failed to lift the trophy, and were only upstaged by Cote d’Ivoire in the final of 2015.
Before then, the Stars had lost to Egypt in the grand finale of the Angola 2010 championship, and of course, as far back as 1992 stumbled in the lottery of penalty shoot-out to Cote d’Ivoire.
Now, the Stars are rapidly gaining notoriety of qualifying for tournaments they cannot hope to win. And, this is the major reason why you no longer see flags flying when they play. This is not a matter of lack of nationalism, patriotism or loyalty. The let-downs are a bit too many to warrant this distressing trend.
Indeed, let us not be pretentious about that. If a team you support wholeheartedly makes it a routine occurrence to let you down when the expectation is all-too high, your support will naturally wane one day. That is the situation now.
That is why many Ghanaians were alarmed to hear the FA spokesperson Sannie Daara on GHOne TV commending the Stars after their semi-final exit; saying “it was no mean achievement to get there.” This is the kind of mediocrity that we have now grown used to – so comfortably.
Otherwise, how on earth would the players be presented with brand new 4×4 Cherokee vehicles after the Stars had finished second at the 2015 Nations Cup? Now, the players think getting to the last four is even an enviable feat! Our taste for mediocrity is now legendary!
Is it not upsetting and disconcerting that when Ghana won its fourth Nations Cup in 1982, Cameroon had not even set eyes on the coronet for once? Today, the Cameroonians had equaled our record and have a team that demonstrated an extremely promising future to the whole world at the Gabon Nations Cup.
In the same vein, the Pharaohs of Egypt had lifted the trophy just twice at the time Ghana won it for keeps in 1982. Interestingly, the Pharaohs have gone ahead to annex it a staggering five more times.
Today, we are not only known as the sleeping giants of African football, but we have slipped into a nadir of shame and ignominy due to a disturbing culture of mediocrity and our players’ unparalleled lust for money.
If the players are not ready to show patriotism and the zeal to carve out something for the nation, where do they expect to elicit the support from? Of course, some of them have managed to work their way into the Stars’ camp without a bead of sweat at the expense of more conscientious quality players and so do not care a hoot about the performance they churn out.
Fact is, whether they play well or not; whether coaches are changed or not, their positions in the team are heavily guaranteed, so far as their godfathers remain at the upper echelons of power! That is one pathetic state of our football.
Be it as it may, it is high time the Kwesi Nyantakyi-led Ghana Football Association (GFA) sat up and turn things around as quickly as possible. Many Ghanaians now want him out because the embarrassment is getting out of hand.
Indeed, if Ghana was able to win its four Nations Cup trophies in less than two decades, what at all has stalled our progress since the glory of ’82? Failing to clinch the Golden Fleece for the past 35 years is, undeniably, a huge indictment on our image as a super power of African football.
The FA president may have done luminously well by qualifying Ghana to its first World Cup in 2006, and adding two more (South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014), but that now meant nothing to the Ghanaian without an African title to match.
Sadly, we have always blown into smithereens the opportunities that pour our way.
The FA is all-too aware that players like skipper Asamoah Gyan and Jonathan Mensah were not fully fit heading into the Gabon campaign but they were carried there anyway. It is still stunning, in fact, inexplicable, that Austria-based striker Raphael Dwamena, was dropped from the team that represented the nation in Gabon.
This was Ghana’s highest scoring player in Europe last year, having banged home 18 goals in 20 appearances with a number assists, but was axed from the team even though he had hit an incredible scoring form during the Stars training sessions.
It still beats one’s imagination as to why Coach Avram Grant failed to infuse his team with at least five local boys. The talents are there – and they are hungry to play. Only an inefficient technical brain would fail to notice them.
Grant takes $50,000 as monthly salary, yet in two years has failed to identify a single talent on the local scene and the FA sees nothing wrong with it?
If you have fail to infuse your best local player and goal-king in the Premier League (Latif Blessing) into your national team, then you certainly do not have a vision. In any case, do we know the harm we are causing our local league when we neglect the promising players in moments like the Nations Cup?
We need no marketer to tell us the world of good we would have done to our yet-to-be-sponsored domestic league by blending out national team with such gifted local players. Did we think about the publicity stunt?
We have overly relied on our overseas-based players for the past two decades and they have won us nothing at the senior level – absolutely nothing, except heartbreaks! There is no depth; there is no competition in the Black Stars and the management team headed by the GFA vice president, George Afriyie, thinks it is normal? Goodness!
Again, what is happening to our youth system? The likes of Black Stars’ Andre Ayew and Agyemang Badu were part of the glittering Under-20 national team (Black Satellites), who won the World Cup in 2009. Ever since, no real show. But should we invite players from the youth level only when they clinch or get to the ultimate at the world level?
No one needs to tell Nyantakyi, who took over the mantle of leadership from Nyaho Tamakloe in 2005, that he ought to step up to the plate and embark on a holistic revolution of our game – being domestic or international.
Our football is under the weather and may die off if stringent measures are not undertaken to revive it. Wake up, Mr. FA president, for our football is progressively bleeding to death!
By John Vigah