Soccer News of Saturday, 2 February 2013
For many young Ghanaian football fans who have never seen Ghana lift an AFCON trophy despite being champions on four occasions, the time for another Nations Cup glory is now and it will be at the FNB Stadium in South Africa on February 10, 2013.
The march towards exorcising the trophy drought that has haunted Ghana for 31 years begins this Saturday when the Black Stars face the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in a cagey quarter final duel in the 29th edition of the AFCON tournament.
Despite topping Group B which had the likes of Mali and DR Congo, many Ghanaians are still skeptical about the chances of the Black Stars and more importantly about the tactical disposition of Coach Kwasi Appiah.
More than anything, the Cape Verde game should underline Ghana’s title ambitions, Appiah’s coaching credentials and hopefully Gyan’s leadership qualities all of which have never escaped critical scrutiny.
Can Gyan do what Abedi, Appiah, and Mensah did not do?
For 31 years Ghana has been barren in football even though she had some of the finest players and even more quintessential leaders. Abedi, Appiah, Mensah in the three decades have all taken a bite at the cherry; a band on their arms; the team on their shoulders and the whole country on their heads but due to a multiplicity of reasons the country has never tasted a trophy.
Obviously Gyan, who now takes responsibility for the captaincy, does not and may never have the charisma of Abedi Pele and Stephen Appiah; he does not have the pleasing personality of John Mensah but his unwavering courage will be crucial in a tournament which has over nine Black Stars players making their debut.
Gyan is no stranger to Ghana’s outrage. He is a player who has inspired and frustrated many Ghanaian football fans with equal measure. He still does. He scores one goal in a game to pull you up and squanders three in the same game to put you down. But if many a Ghanaian could exhibit half the courage this young man exhibits on the field, in their various areas of expertise, Ghana should be more than a lower middle income country by now.
My instincts tell me this eccentric little man will be Ghana’s sensational torch bearer to break the trophy jinx for a country whose demand for football success is insatiable. But instincts don’t play football.
Coach Kwasi Appiah has a point to prove and a trophy to win. If for over 30 years Ghana is without a trophy, it is partly because we never had faith in our indigenous coaches. For years, we went in for half-baked foreign coaches, some of whom, I am sure will be asking themselves how they landed that job when their own countries will never for a moment consider appointing them.
Appiah has a duty to bring back this lost glory and confidence in local coaches and has not performed badly thus far, but if the Asamoah Gyan story is anything to learn from; then Appiah must know that Ghanaians care less about how many matches he has won so far. What they will remember and remember so well will be the match he will lose. And if it is to Cape Verde, then he had better stayed in South Africa.
There is that possibility of the Blue Sharks winning, but I don’t see it happening. My biggest fear rather is Burkina Faso, not even Ivory Coast and the Black Stars must beware.