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Sports Features of Friday, 8 February 2013

Source: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

How I saw the Black Stars' game against the Stallions

How I Saw the Black Stars' Game Against the Stallions of Burkina Faso!

I know how passionate Ghanaians are when it comes to football, especially Africa Cup of Nations. Having last won the cup over three decades ago, it was the expectation of all and sundry that this year's cup was a home-bound. All the support a coach would need for a tournament of this nature was given to Coach Kwasi Appiah, be it financial and moral. Kwasi Appiah was given a free hand to operate and the discipline he brought to the young team was a delight to watch. Apart from the "luck" the Black Stars had by virtue of referees' wrong decisions, Ghana had a less difficult group through to the semi-finals. For instance, in our game against the Eagles of Mali, the Black Stars' goalkeeper, Fatau Dauda should have been shown a straight red card instead of the yellow card given him. Similarly, the Burkinabes should have been awarded a penalty in the first half of the game when one of their marksmen was brought down in the 18-yard box by defender John Boye.

But looking at the mood of Ghanaians prior to AFCON '13, it was clear that the mood was anti-football. The outcome of the 2012 general elections has no doubt, had a terrible effect not only on the business and political environment, but also the entire football circles. The public eye is currently focussed on the petition before the Supreme Court regarding the electoral fraud. For the first in the political and football history of Ghana, all right-minded Ghanaians seem to prefer "ELECTORAL JUSTICE" to winning African Cup of Nation's tournament and the coveted World Cup. Many football fans did not show any interest in the current Africa Cup of Nations taking place in South Africa and therefore the wearing of jerseys depicting the Black Stars was negligible.

Personally, I pity Katakyie Kwasi Appiah for his inability to lift the cup or at least reach the finals of the competition. He is a good coach by all standards judging from the football materials that were at his disposal. Given much time and resources, I'm confident the former Black Stars Captain and his team would come out stronger to be serious contenders for the subsequent tournaments. My only beef however, was Kwasi's failure to substitute the Captain of the Black Stars, Asamoah Gyan in the 2nd half of the game. Gyan was a passer-by for the entire duration of the match. Besides, he failed to provide the needed leadership or inspiration for his subordinates. Asamoah Gyan couldn't make use of the numerous chances that came his way. I think it was high time his role as a lone striker was reviewed, if the national team was to score more goals in a competition of this nature.

Technically, Derick Boateng executed his role to perfection as a defensive midfielder. However, his overall output could have benefited the team more, if he had played as an offensive midfielder. Most of his incisive passes were centred in the midfield. For me, if such passes had gone straight to our strikers, I believe we could have put more balls in the net of the opposing team. Having said that, it was difficult for Derick to play in front of the defenders, stop any move from the opposing strikers, and distribute balls straight to strikers at the same time. His effort needed to be complemented by Atsu and Badu.

Sadly, the offensive midfield role assigned Emmanuel Agyemang Badu was not effective in this particular match. Badu, as we all know, has been an inspiration to the team from the group stages to this end. But, it was not Badu's day in the Burkinabe game. He did not live up to expectation. Mubarak Wakasso, on the other hand, showed signs of aggressiveness at the beginning of the game but fizzled out along the line. His final deliveries were sometimes problematic, but I still think his substitution at latter part of the game was wrong. This is because as the number one penalty taker, he should have been kept on the field when the game seemed to head for a penalty shoot-out.

The Black Stars lost balls unnecessarily anytime we had possession of the ball. The team could not keep the ball for a few minutes when the pressure was on us. Going forward, we must have more ball jugglers in the team and I believe the inclusion of Dede Ayew, Emmanuel Frimpong, and Kevin Prince Boateng would go a long way in addressing this problem. Defender Afful Harrison, together with the other defenders did well. But the two central defenders must be blamed for the equaliser. Vorsah and Boye shouldn't have left a dangerous striker like that unmarked. Fatau Dauda has been a revelation in this tournament and I take this opportunity to congratulate him for the brilliant saves.

On the whole, I think the better team won the day. The Stars did not deserve to progress to the finals because the team played below par. Admittedly, the Tunisian referee got most of his decisions wrong and I expect CAF to take him on. The Burkinabes should have been awarded at least two clear penalties. The penalty awarded to the Stars was a wrong decision by the referee. However, the Stars deserved a penalty when Agyemang Badu was brought down in the box.

The presence of the Vice President, Amissah Arthur at the stadium was ill-timed. What did he go to South Africa for? I wouldn't have been bothered if the occasion was for an Homosexuality Conference because that is his area of speciality. For example, when Ghana's gold valued at $80m got "missing" recently, we all saw the urgency with which the political thieves and robbers dealt with it. John Mahama, Akwasi Osei Odike, Alfred Woyome, and Tatsu Tsikata rushed to Turkey within two days. Why should Amissah Arthur waste the taxpayers' money by visisting the players in South Africa? Was he there to motivate or educate the players on how to engage in gay marriage? Why couldn't the government delegation involve retired footballers like Rev. Osei Kofi, Abdul Razak, Abedi Ayew Pele, Tony Yeboah, and Malik Jabir? I think the NDC government has caused serious financial loss to the state. The faces of the supporters readily portrayed that over 90% was NDC fool soldiers. Did they think that God was a "left-handed" person, or Alata man as some people would say? "Onyame ntes3 Alata ni da"! The NDC wished to use the Black Stars' victory to brag and lie to Ghanaians that John Mahama's administration was a blessed one. They thought the "victory" would divert our attention from the impending court case. No!

Now the die is cast! Our mood is still on the court case. We expect the fraudsters to provide details of all the registered voters in abroad. Until the diabolic NDC was kicked out of power, nothing good would happen to our beloved country because it is a bad luck political party. Katakyie Kwasi Appiah, take heart. You did your best but the fault was not from you. The team is young and inexperienced. Our bane is that Ghana is being governed by evildoers. The team's defeat is painful but I wish the Black Stars a better luck next time. Let's keep the team together and I hope that with the inclusion of the Ayew brothers and better training, we shall win the World Cup in 2014 and the AFCON '15.

God bless the Black Stars and make our senior national team great and strong! God bless Kufuor!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Enfield, London. (Free SHS Ambassador) Official blog: (www.katakyie.com) katakyienpp@yahoo.co.uk 07577626433 A native of Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri

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