Despite the opening defeat to Portugal, Ghanaians remain confident of a Black Stars victory over South Korea in their second group match of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Qatar today.
The team head into the game on the back of a 3-2 defeat to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in their opening group fixture, a match that was characterised by controversies due to decisions by referee Ismail Elfath.
The decisions by the referee, which included the award of a contentious penalty to Portugal and was expertly dispatched by the Captain, was met with anger and disappointment by Ghanaians and fans around the globe after the final whistle.
Despite the result, a section of the public, both football and non-football enthusiasts the Ghanaian Times Sports spoke to over the weekend ahead of the game against Korea sounded optimistic and confident of victory.
However, they indicated that it would not be a walk in the park for the Black Stars considering how well the Koreans performed against Uruguay after their goalless draw game and their performance against the Black Stars in recent meetings.
Mr Felix Agyemang, a Civil Servant said he was optimistic because of the performance of the team against Portugal.
For him, he least expected the Stars to be at that level for which reason he now has high expectations for the team and expect them to desire.
Another Civil Servant, Mr Mark Boamah said although the decisions of referee Elfath were questionable, the Coach of the Black Stars, Otto Addo needed to muster courage and bench players who were underperforming.
Mr Alfred Mantey, a businessman lamented over the timing of substitutions by Otto Addo, saying “you don’t wait till your opponents take a lead or two before you start making substitution. If you are making a substitution, you have to make it early.”
A student, Mr Samuel Antwi, was skeptical about the selection of players and called on the coach to drop under-performing players.
On the contrary, Ms Alberta Aidoo, a shop keeper appealed to Ghanaians to have patience with the team as the criticism of certain players may affect their confidence.
“I know that it is our wish for the team to win matches. However, the consistent criticism of players such as Baba Rahman and the Ayew brothers, especially, on social media can affect their confidence”, she said.
Others also commended the Ghana Football Association (GFA) on its decision to petition FIFA over the officiating by referee Elfath during the game against Portugal but doubted if it would yield results.
Mrs Mavis Badu said “I am happy that the GFA had petitioned FIFA over the performance of the referee. However, I doubt if something positive will come out of it.”
Ibrahim Bukari and Solomon Gyamfi, also shared similar views, insisting that the petition would have attracted a swift response had it come from some of the powerful countries.
Mr Phillip Andoh, a driver at the Kaneshie lorry station said he expected the match officials in Ghana’s game against Korea to make use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR)when necessary.
A defeat for the Black Stars today would make their qualification to the round of 16 stage impossible while a draw would be crucial heading into the last round of matches depending on the result in the match between Portugal and Uruguay.
Mr Richard Ayee, a staff of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) told the Times Sports that victory over South Korea was not beyond the Stars.
“They must be confident and have the right approach. They are very fast and have good players that can be deadly in our goal area so we must find a way to have more of the ball and let them do the tackling,” he said.
BY BENJAMIN ARCTON-TETTEY & JESSEL LARTEY THERSON-COFIE