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Sports Features of Friday, 27 February 2015


How soon could a Spain or England play in Ghana?

For all its renown in international footballing circles, Ghana seems miles away from pulling off a feat some of its peers on the continent have managed and probably would do some more in the future.

In recent years, the likes of Nigeria, South Africa, and even Gabon have hosted some of the world's biggest national sides in friendlies; Brazil, Argentina, Spain, and England have all been in one or more of the nations cited above.

And Ghana?

None. Not ever, and, apparently, not anytime soon.

Okay, I might have been exaggerating just a little with the 'not ever' bit. Some reputable sides have once been Ghana's guests, actually. Between 1958 and 1977, the country had a select England XI (comprised mostly of amateurs), East Germany, Ukraine, USSR, West Germany, and Denmark all visiting.

Respectable opponents, you would agree.

Interestingly, though, much of that action came during an era when the Ghanaian national team was in its relatively nascent years and of a much lower profile than now; way before three successive Fifa World Cup qualifications thrust the country fully into global consciousness.

Since 1988, the biggest non-African national teams to have been entertained by Ghana are Cuba and Jamaica.

Boring, yeah.

With Ghana's allure now more enticing than ever, encounters with the Spains, Italys, and Portugals on our own territory and terms, you'd think, is long overdue.

Unfortunately, though, it takes much more than just a good reputation to bring teams that grand to your home turf. Even more crucially, it requires a great deal of investment: money, precisely.

And, perhaps, that is where the government could lend a hand. Oh, and there is a fine precedent, Messrs. J.D Mahama et M. Ayariga, in case you were wondering.

Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, was key in bringing most of the aforementioned big sides - as well as glamour clubs like Real Madrid - to the country.

Since then, however, the State's interest in the Black Stars' affairs has steadily waned to what mainly pertains to major international tournaments. That aside, there is precious little input into the Stars' fortunes, very much unlike the sort Nkrumah and Ohene Djan, Osagyefuo's able sporting lieutenant, contributed so many years ago.

It could be a one-off or eventually an annual fixture on the football calendar. Either way, Ghanaians do deserve such a rare treat.

Hardly anything that $2m's worth of [38] luxury cars could not fix, right?