Sports Features of Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Unity is key to Black Stars success

We have never seen the Black Stars' worst performance at the FIFA World Cup as we are currently witnessing at Brazil 2014.

This is their third participation in the prestigious tournament, and in all respects they have never put the nation under such severe pressure and subjected the citizenry to such mathematical calculation as we are going through now.

Honestly, the fate of the Black Stars hangs on a thin thread, and much will depend on the final test of their "Group of Death", that is Group G. The United States of America and Germany have already acquired four points each, while the Black Stars and Portugal have one point apiece, and for obvious reasons, the whole exercise on the part of the of the Stars lies on “unceasing prayers" for final delivery.”

In their two previous World Cup participation, it will be recalled that at that very stage, they had advanced better than they find themselves today. All over the place, the clarion call is that the Stars victory over Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal must be solid and complete. In other words, picking four points in their match will possibly qualify them for the next stage of the tournament, but much will depend on the result of the Germany and USA do and die.

Really, as it happened in the last tournament in South Africa, all our prayers is that the two opponents that will play their match tomorrow, Thursday, in Recife at 4p.m. would not end their match in a draw. In other words, if Germany beat USA and the Black Stars manage to floor Portugal, then our prayers have been positively answered.

In South Africa in 2010, the Stars won their first match 1 - 0 against Serbia, drew 1-1 with Australia, and lost their third match 0-1 to Germany. But luck smiled at the Stars when Australia who had initially beaten Serbia 2-1 and drawn 1-1 with the Stars suffered a hollow 0-4 defeat at the hands of Germany.

Yes, the Black Stars were fortunate to qualify on account of narrow goal advantage. The nation suffered from similar mathematical equations which lasted for nearly one week. A lot of speculations are going on all over, and the lot is about the possibility of the Black Stars winning their last match and Germany beating USA or vice versa.

For all we know, Portugal are under serious pressure following their first loss of 0-4 defeat at the hands of Germany. Of course, the whole nation is discussing the issue.

At last Sunday's Ordination of Ministerial Probationers at the Resurrection Presbyterian Church at Asiakwa in the Eastern Region, a good friend I met posed his first question which bordered on the Black Stars chances, and the obvious answer was that it would require a lot of prayers.

I believe even at the ordination service, the congregation had their hearts and mind on what was happening to the Black Stars in Brazil. And who says from the moderator down to the new ordinands, the success story of the Black Stars was not on their mind? It appears everybody saw some of the factors that contributed to the 1-2 loss to USA and the 2-2 draw with Germany. In the US match, close followers of the game blamed the loss to poor utilisation of scoring opportunities through erratic shooting, and lack of concentration.

Indeed, one wonders why after the last gap equaliser, the defence stood aloof and allowed the opposing attacker to head the ball that was floated from a corner kick into the net to silence all the vociferous fans who were cheering the Black Stars to victory.

I must say the same lack of concentration enabled the German substitute, Minoslav Klose to stretch his leg to the elastic limit to push the ball into the Stars net, with all the hard defenders around. Earlier, when the Stars took a 2-1 lead, they started losing concentration, and threw team-work to the dogs.

At one stage an elated player dribbled his way to an acute angle, and instead of passing the ball to his colleagues who were in a good position to score, shot the ball into the waiting hand of the goalkeeper.

It was a very painful moment for the team and the numerous fans who were watching the game and rooting for the Stars. The player later apologised to his colleagues for his poor judgement, but the opportunity was already gone! It was an apology of teamwork.

The Black Stars went to the Brazil tournament with one fine agenda of moving one step of reaching the semi-finals at least, to break the African record at the Mundial. That agenda is attainable, but it needed a total unity of purpose, a total understanding and total devotion to die a little more than they had ever done. Unfortunately, many factors have worked negatively against that plan, and that hads resulted in their playing their first two matches and gaining only one point that has subjected everybody to unnecessary football mathematics.

All over the country, people who are hungry for their success are not giving up, and the clarion call is that Portugal will fall, and by a simple permutation, Germany will overcome USA and that will pave the way for Black Stars qualification. At this stage they will need the prayers of everybody, and all will be well. Good luck!