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Sports News of Friday, 22 May 2020


The Ghana national team – how good could it be?

Black Stars of Ghana Black Stars of Ghana

With the sporting world in a period of enforced slumber, everyone is using their spare time a little differently. Whether that is by learning a new language, hosting virtual meetings, or trying your luck at online USA casinos, people are dealing with this situation in their own way.

One of the disciplines that have undoubtedly felt the most significant pinch is soccer. With domestic leagues looking to restart soon, the hope is that this current season will eventually come to a rightful conclusion.

Trying to revive the domestic game brings its issues. Still, thankfully those issues are confined to a set of respective borders, and therefore hitting the start button once more is a far easier task than trying to revive the international game.

The upshot of this is that no one can predict when the Black Stars of Ghana will again take to the field, and because of this cessation in action, it allows us to play a bit of international fantasy soccer instead.

Much has been made over the issues regarding international eligibility, and there is a sense of grievance within the Ghanaian soccer community because their talent pool has been plundered by some of the sport’s biggest powerhouses.

For example, take Jérôme Boateng. The Bayern Munich defender was born to a German mother and a Ghanaian father, and that lineage meant that he was available to play for the Black Stars at the international level.

Unfortunately, Ghana’s loss was very much Germany’s gain, and with the Berlin-born defender helping his motherland to a 2014 FIFA World Cup success, viewers back in Accra would be asking themselves what might have been if he had played for Ghana.

What makes the situation all the more interesting is that the 31-year-old also has a footballing half-brother. With Kevin-Prince Boateng initially representing Germany at the youth level, he then saw the light and made a full international switch to the Ghanaian squad.

Of course, Jérôme Boateng is not the only World Cup winner with Ghanaian heritage, and the one that arguably slipped the net and annoyed the most is Marcel Desailly for France.

The former A.C. Milan and Chelsea defender was pivotal in France’s success in both the 1998 World Cup and the UEFA European Championships two years later. Although fans will never quite know, they are almost sure that he could have taken the Ghana team to some incredible heights.

There’s no doubt that Desailly is a footballing legend but, at the same time, he is now from a bygone era and although that is a prime example of representing the “wrong country”, it is not something that has gone away recently.

You could look at Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and his exploits over the past two years that have seen him deliver a Champions League title in 2019 and most probably a first-ever Premier League title for the Merseyside outfit.

Although Wijnaldum may be the engine room for Liverpool’s midfield, he also plies his international trade with the Netherlands, and with him having a Ghanaian father, there is no doubt the Black Stars would have welcomed his talent.

In addition to this, there is also Mario Balotelli. Born to Ghanaian parents, although raised in Italy when adopted at a young age, the former Manchester City forward decided to follow the path of his newfound homeland.

Admittedly, the decision by the outspoken Balotelli was not the biggest surprise within the global game. However, it did ask questions of the Ghanaian Football Association and why they cannot tempt players with the necessary eligibility.

It is also a thorny issue for young starlets in this current climate, and another one that seems to have slipped through the governing body’s fingers is Chelsea defender Ethan Ampadu – with his decision to represent Wales.

In fairness, the race to gain Ampadu’s commitment was always going to be a difficult one, as the current RB Leipzig loanee is eligible to represent Wales, England, the Republic of Ireland, and finally, Ghana.

The potential Chelsea and Ghana connection does not stop there. Winger Callum Hudson-Odoi has also decided to represent another nation, and Gareth Southgate’s England are now the lucky recipients of such an exciting talent.

What makes things all the more sad for fans of our footballing nation is that this is just a mere snapshot of ‘stolen’ talents, and although there are far more names we could mention, there will undoubtedly be lots more that follow suit.

What could we have done with all these players in our national team?