Feature Article of Saturday, 19 March 2011

Columnist: Obour, Samuel K.

The Wembley Encounter: Ghana to ‘colonise’ England

By samuel K. Obour

Ghanaian football fans in Accra, kumasi, Takoradi Tamale and other cities, are enthusiastically looking forward to Ghana’s friendly match with England at the Wembly Stadium on the 29th of March. It’s a match many feel has been long overdue, considering Ghana’s African football pedigree.

Some of the world’s best players will be on parade when the match comes off in a couple of week’s time. The likes of Lampard, Rooney, Terry and Asley Cole will be available for England, while players like Asamoah Gyan, Kevin Prince-Boateng, Sulley Muntari and John Mensah will hold Ghana’s fort. Conspicuously missing from the game, however, will be Chelsea’s Michael Essien and Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard. The former has put his international football career on hold while the latter is out with an injury. Although, the Captain of the Black Stars, John Mensah, has said Essien will be available for England, the latter’s name is not among the 24 players called up for the game.

Available information indicate that football fans in NIgeria, South Africa and other African countries are also looking forward to the match. So, come March 29, folks from Lagos, Abuja, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Abidjan, Lusaka, Nairobi, Cairo and other countries on the continent will tune in to Supersports and other television channels to watch the Black Stars in action against the Three Lions of England.

The match has generated lots of media attention in the UK. This isn’t surprising because over 400,000 Ghanaians reside permanently in that country. Most of them have probably bragged about how Ghana will spank England to their counterparts in the UK. According to Graphic Sports, tickets for the March 29th Ghana-England game have been sold out, and more than 700 million people around the globe will watch the match on television.

Ghana is currently rated the 16th best team in the world and the best in Africa, while England is rated the sixth best team in the world, and the fourth best in Europe. So Africa and indeed the world, can look forward to a great encounter at the Wembley Sports Stadium. It will be a match between two great football powers.

It’s extremely important, as I conclude, that the Black Stars of Ghana put up a respectable performance against the Three Lions of England when they meet in two weeks. Though Ghana is ever capable of standing up to the best teams in the world, their attitude to friendly matches leaves much to be desired.

With Ghana’s current world ranking, it’s extremely important that the Ghana FA and the Black Stars attach serious importance to the England match. Ghana cannot afford to be disgraced as the case was when we lost 6-1 to Germany in Bochum 18 years ago, and 5-0 to Saudi Arabia in 2007. With regard to the latter defeat, there were reports of bribery in the Ghanaian media prior to the game. The Ghana FA and players of the Black Stars were reported to have received huge sums in bribes, to lose the match by a particular scoreline. Indeed, the Black Stars parading big names like Michael Essien, went ahead to lose 5-0 to a Saudi Arabian side they had beaten 3-1 the previous year.

The Ghana-England match is capable of defining Ghana’s football future and we cannot afford any such disgrace. A good performance against England, especially a win, will open new opportunities for the Black stars in respect of international friendlies. The likes of Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany and other top teams in the world, will obviously want to play against the African side that beat England in a friendly! A disgraceful defeat, on the other hand, will spell doom for the Black Stars.

Though England played Nigeria and Cameroon at the old Wembley in 1994 and 1997 respectively, Ghana would become the first black African country to play at the new Wembley and the first time a visiting country will be supported by more than 20,000 fans.

The English colonised Ghana for almost a century. I’m happy to state that Ghana will also ‘colonise’ them, in terms of how to play the beautiful game, at the Wembley Stadium, when we lock horns in two weeks. We can look forward to a great game. I predict a 2-0 win for Ghana.

samuelkwason@yahoo.com Samuelobour.wordpress.com