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Opinions of Monday, 10 October 2016

Columnist: Derek Caesar

The Black Stars must improve quickly or forget Russia 2018

By Derek Caesar

The scorching sensation of pessimism has struck again; maybe a wind of uncertainty blowing all over. Everybody stirred at another somewhat stale performance from the Black Stars as they pitted their strength against an all too familiar foe.

The Tamale stadium was packed. The whole atmosphere was as energetic. So you would be right to say that people were expecting the Black Stars to fix in the missing link. That could have at least given these teaming fans a good starter for the weekend.

It would have also gone a long way to do a repair of the already damaged reputation the team has suffered since the 2014 world cup. Instead, the level of play suggested a complete mockery of the Ghanaian’s trust. Not to suggest that people have lost complete confidence in the team, but most fans have started being realistic.

The dreaded force in Africa is not feared anymore. Stars Captain Asamoah Gyan has been once quoted as saying there are no minnows in football these days. But the truth is that there are. With all things being equal, Argentina should smash Comoros Islands with all due respect to the latter. So that’s not an excuse at all.

Ghana has enjoyed two wins out of two in their previous matches at the same venue against Guinea and Togo; both 3 – 1 victories. So a goalless draw in this one means things are not the same. The pitch understandably slowed down the pace of play. But that is not really an excuse. We are just not good enough these days.

In my frank view, Avram Grant is not learning anymore. Or maybe I dare say that he is still on holidays with the team. The records show that the Black Stars do not hold a good reputation against the Cranes. And Grant and his team have done little or nothing to erase the unfavorable run of results.

On the match day, our players didn’t look like it. Our attack failed to glitter, while the whole team looked out of sort. Generally, none of the players was ready to take up the mantle and deliver to Ghanaians the three precious points. So does this mean motivation was not there to set the tone for the group? Well; I’ll attempt to answer that.

The look on the faces of the players at the end of the 90 minutes depicted satisfaction. Does that also mean that the Black Stars must now accept that failing to beat Uganda in their last three or four outings are quite okay? No!

In my view the Black Stars have been sleeping for far too long and need to wake up to the reality. The hard earned reputation the team has built over the years is in danger of being reduced to shreds. Uganda with no disrespect, now believe they can get the results against the once called African pride.

The relatively younger players in the team including Baba Rahman, Frank Acheampong andAfriyie Acquah must step up to the challenge while the more experienced ones like Gyan must start showing the way again. There is no room for error, the team must either get it right in their subsequent matches or risk losing everything which has been built over the years.

The next game against Egypt is a massive one and must not be taken lightly. The team must improve in their work ethics too and Avram Grant must work harder if he is to make the dream of a fourth world cup berth a reality.

Finally, the ministry must try and make things right with the Ghana Football Association as soon as possible if we are to make any strides at all. If we fail to plan for our subsequent opponents, we are definitely digging our graves.

If we fail to take our subsequent world cup qualifying matches seriously as we did in the game against Uganda in Tamale, then I’m afraid the Black Stars have to start planning for the 2022 world cup qualifiers and forget about this one.