Time to break the 37-year-old trophy curse!
IF you support a team that you have never seen win any trophy, that must really dish up as a tear-jerking bother.
Regrettably, that is the disturbing situation for Ghanaians – a decent number of whom have never had the pleasure of seeing the senior national team, Black Stars, lift any trophy since their last African Cup of Nations conquest in Libya – 37 years ago.
It is a very disconcerting phenomenon.
Year in year out, a fresh resolve to break the jinx and efface that ignominy is underlined. Despondently, none of them had yielded any fruits – and the Ghanaian anguish continues unabated.
Yet another chapter has been opened for the Stars to make a valiant attempt at breaking the jinx at this year’s 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations to be staged in Egypt.
Originally, Cameroon were billed to host the biennial tournament but had to be stripped of that right due to delays in the delivery of infrastructure, the Boko Haram insurgency and the Anglophone crisis – we are told. The Cameroonians would have hosted the competition for the first time since 1972.
Whoever got the nod to host is not really a bother to Ghanaians. The hassling concern is getting to win the Holy Grail.
In the pyramids of Giza last Friday night, the draw for this year’s Nations Cup was held with defending champions Cameroon being clustered into Group F with Ghana, Benin and Guinea-Bissau. Hosts Egypt will face DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe in Group A.
For Ghanaians, though the group provides them with the prospect of getting back at Cameroon, it also looks dicey as one cannot afford to underestimate the capacity of the likes of Benin and Guinea Bissau.
Cameroon were responsible for Ghana’s pain in 2008 when the Ghanaians hosted the tournament for the third time as the Indomitable Lions edged the Stars 1-0 at the semi-final stage. Nine years later, Cameroon again were at their pitiless best after ditching the Stars 2-0 at the same stage in Gabon on their way to clinching their fifth Nations Cup victory.
Amusingly enough, Cameroon had not even won their first trophy when Ghana’s Black Stars annexed the crown for the fourth time – and winning it for keeps too, in the process.
Similarly, the Pharaohs of Egypt had grabbed just two Nations Cup victories (1957, 1959) when Ghana’s name became household with a hitherto fourth unprecedented African conquest. Today, Egypt are amazingly seven-time (1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010) African champions; Ghana is still wedged at four!
It is a shocking embarrassment!
However, it must be pointed out that the Stars have staged some valiant efforts at winning the title but a disquieting bout of factors including ill-luck crushed the dream.
In 2015, for instance, the Stars exhibited some polished football and dazzled all the way to the grand finale only to stumble cynically to Cote d’Ivoire through the lottery of shoot-out after extra-time. This was when Ghana had taken an imposing 2-0 lead during the kicks.
Hearts were ruptured! The disappointment was too much for Ghanaians to bear. Clearly, luck was not on the side of the Stars who were also losing finalists to Egypt at the Angola 2010 tournament.
In the Egypt game, the Stars took charge of the evening and should have settled for their fifth continental triumph. But once they failed to tuck away the profusion of opportunities that poured their way, the Ghanaians would be punished as substitute Mohammed Gedo broke into the box at pace and played a breathtaking one-two with Mohamed Zidan, before excellently tucking the ball home across Richard Kingson’s goal and into the far corner. With only five minutes from the end, the loss was all-too heart-throbbing.
Certainly, as the Stars zoom into the land of the Pharaohs in Egypt for this year’s tournament that begins from June 21-July 19, they should have revenge firmly embossed on their mind and dash for the jugular.
Time to break the 37-year-old trophy curse is now or never.
In the last six tournaments, Ghana has found itself in the last-four and that is quite imposing. But the actors need to do the do in Egypt. Luck aside, the players have to be committed to the cause. They have got to be whole-heartedly bound up to each other and play their hearts out.
They should say to each other “we are not coming back to Ghana without the Cup.” They must make that their shibboleth and work their fingers to the bone in that respect.
Truth is, the Cameroon side that won the last Nations Cup were not exceptional. They were not prodigious. But they were extra committed, disciplined and dedicated to the goal of clinching another trophy and ghosting past Ghana. They succeeded!
Ghana can also make it with same attitude. They players must just be determined and resolute in this goal. The Stars were not seeded for the tournament and for many, it is a good omen, since it is certainly going to take some pressure off them.
Graciously, the government has promised to do everything in their power to make the players feel homy to enable them deliver gold in Egypt. And, it must be so!
PlainTalk with JOHN VIGAH
Ghana must win this trophy