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Opinions of Saturday, 19 January 2013

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

AFCON 2013: Let Us Wish the Black Stars Well

By Alex Bossman Baafi

Time and tide really wait for no man and come February 19, 2013 in South Africa, the National Soccer team the Black Stars will be called to national duty to compete for the prestigious championship trophy of the Orange African Cup of Nations.

To excel in competitions of this nature, assembling a competent team and adequate preparation in terms of training are key success factors which I can say with adequate certainty that the manager of the national team, Kwasi Appiah and his technical men have no deficit. The coach has assembled most of the top stars of players available. They camped in Dubai at the right time for training. We witnessed two fantastic football friendly matches against soccer giants like Egypt which the Stars whipped 3-0 and defeated Tunisia 4-2. These combined have left no doubt in the minds of our numerous football fans that the Black Stars are in as one of the favourites to pick the trophy for the fifth time.

I must however hasten to add that it is not going to be picnic in South Africa. Every nation and competing team is in with the ultimate aim to grab the diadem. We cannot therefore leave anything to chance.

The success or failure of our team depends on a host of factors some of which have been discussed here. Our players should know that complacency is a disease and they should try not to be infected by it. In today’s football matches any team can pull cause an upset because football has no room for mathematics. Let us cast our minds back to AFCON 2012, nobody at the beginning gave Chipolopolo of Zambia a dog’s chance. Who would have thought that the Black Stars who were touted the favorites before the start of the tournament would perform abysmally and could not even place in the medal zone at the end of the competition.

Yes, complacency disease killed our dream during the AFCON2012 in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. This was so because perhaps the players made the mistake into thinking that in the absence of powerful nations including Egypt, South Africa, Cameroon and Nigeria, the trophy could come to as on a silver plate. We all laughed at the wrong sides of our mouths at the end of the tournament. Another pitfall we must endeavour to avoid is indiscipline on the part of our players. Many of our players contracted the disease of indiscipline on the field of play. They attracted two yellow cards and red cards unnecessarily and that affected our tactical formation, teamwork and demoralized our team spirit.

Individual players in the team should avoid being selfish and know that teamwork is the key to success in this type of competitions. It was teamwork that made the Zambians to triumph in the finals against a formidable side like Cote D’ivoire during the AFCON 2012.

The technical bench headed by Coach Kwesi Appiah must not lose focus at any point in any game. They should bring their expertise to bear at any point in time by reading any game and innovatively adopt winnable tactics. The coach must be quick to identify loopholes in all departments of the game not only in his team but that of all opponents and their advice must be technically accurate.

On the part of the Ghana Football Association; my plea is that they provide logistical and motivational support, including prompt payment of qualification bonuses.

I wish to assure the Black Stars that their numerous supporters as well as the whole nation wish them well because apart from the unity our nation experiences in times like AFCON 2013, it is also the prayer of the good people of our country that the Black Stars win the prestigious trophy to end the ‘Trophy Famine’ that has plagued the nation for over three decades now. Go Black Stars go we wish you all the best.

Email: abkbossman@yahoo.co.uk