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Sports News of Thursday, 18 August 2022

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Black Stars 1992 squad: The best Ghana side that never won a trophy

Black Stars 1992 AFCON squad Black Stars 1992 AFCON squad

When the issue of the Black Stars team for 1992 was discussed, the usual question that is asked is how come a team with such an array of stars was unable to conquer Africa and even qualify for the World Cup?

The answer to this question is that to achieve success in football, you don’t necessarily need a team with a galaxy of headline-grabbing players but rather a union of committed, hungry and determined players.

In the eyes of historians and football lovers who were privileged enough to watch the Black Stars team of 1992, no generation comes close in terms of pure talent and ability.

But in the strength of world-class players lied the obstacles of disunity, tribalism, perceived disrespect among players and management and apparent lack of teamwork.

According to Anthony Yeboah, the team was divided and there was no teamwork among the group.

“Yes, it is true [that the team was divided] because you could see from some of the players. For example when we meet or when we sit together as a group, you could see the Kumasi people sitting at a particular place and the Accra people also sitting at a particular place," he told GTV Sports Plus in an interview in 2020.

“We didn’t have a problem with each other but as I was saying there was a misunderstanding. The teamwork wasn’t like it was supposed to be so I think that cost us a lot.”

Per Toni Yeboah's words, this was a talented but disjointed team. It is unusual for a disjointed and disunited team to consistently put up good performances and the fact that Ghana, irrespective of these challenges reached the final of the 1992 AFCON lays credence to the perception that the team was an assembly of Ghana best ever footballing talents.

Ghana have been on a hunt for the fifth AFCON title and have been in the finals three times in the process, 1992, 2010 and 2015. However, they were tipped as the favourite to win the trophy only once, in 1992.

In 2010, the Black Stars had no chance against Egypt, the most successful country in AFCON history, because Ghana did not look particularly strong in terms of quality and experience.

Fast forward to 2015 against Ivory Coast, many saw it as a miracle because Ghana was on the verge of an early exit in the group stages, but Asamoah Gyan's stoppage-time winner against Algeria changed the story.

Therefore, among the three finals, it was only in 1992 that Ghana had all the odds on their side because they assembled the best squad and was led by German tactician, Otto Martin Pfister.

The core of the team was, lethal striker Anthony Yeboah, the intelligent Ibrahim Ali Pele, then reigning BBC African Footballer of the Year and African Footballer of the year(CAF), Abedi Pele; defensive Stewarts, Anthony Baffoe, Emmanuel Armah, James Kwasi Appiah, and Frimpong Manso as well as the energetic and powerful Mohammed Gago at the base of the midfield, while the safest pair of hands, Edward Ansah was in post.

In a group of three with Zambia and Egypt, Ghana won all two games beating their opponents 1-0 each. Abedi Pele won the game against Zambia while Anthony Yeboah turned up against Egypt.

The duo combined to qualify Ghana for the semi-finals beating Congo 2-1 where they faced their biggest test, Nigeria.

The match was tagged as the final before the final. Two of the tournament's favourites and West African rivals going head-to-head in the semis.

At the Stade de l'Amitié, Dakar, on January 23, 1992, with 30,000 fans turning for the game, Nigeria drew first blood. The Super Eagles shot themselves into the lead through former Real Sociedad man, Mutiu Adepoju in the 11th minute.

But Abedi Pele produced a magical header to pull Ghana level in the dying embers of the first half.

8 minutes after recess, former Asante Kotoko forward, Prince Polley put Ghana in the lead with a stunning first-time shot in the box from a rebound. Ghana managed the game and walked away with a narrow win over their neighbours.

The road seemed clear but Ghana incurred a significant loss against Nigeria after Abedi Pele attracted a yellow card and was suspended for the final due to accumulated cards.

“Of course, I regret that action. I apologized very much to my countrymen afterwards. It was weighing on me,” Abedi spoke to GTV Sports Plus years later.

“In that tournament, we were on top, the best. People are hurt that I didn’t play in the final and I apologise. I am human. Occasionally you can be so determined and that is where you get it wrong. Sometimes you want it so much that it blows in your face.”

In the final, Ghana faced Ivory Coast, who qualified by virtue of a 3-1 penalty shootout win against Cameroon.

The game was close, keenly contested and nothing separated the two sides after extra time as the game headed into a penalty shootout. It was the first final of the tournament that every player on the pitch took a penalty.

Unfortunately, Anthony Baffoe who scored to start the circle for Ghana missed his second of the night to hand the trophy to the Ivorian team. Ivory Coast won 11-10 in the shootouts.

EE/KPE

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