You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2011 04 03Article 206223

Opinions of Sunday, 3 April 2011

Columnist: Appiah, Papa

Black Stars Put on a Show

Circumstances beyond my control meant that I could not attend the Ghana- England match. I cannot therefore pretend to comment on the match with any more authority than anybody else who watched it on TV. But please allow me to make a few humble observations.

Firstly, what exactly is the best role for Sulley Muntari in the Black Stars? On the left of midfield, Sulley at the moment lacks the pace and energy to track backwards and assist the left full-back and also lacks the skill to be able to go round full-backs and cross the ball. In the first half of the match against England, Lee Addy was badly exposed because of his inexperience but a little more support from Sulley would have made things a bit easier for the lad. Personally, therefore, I think Ayew remains the man for that role as shown by his energetic performances for Marseille in the Champion’s League.

Sulley plays as a holding midfielder for Sunderland at the moment, but for the Black Stars he would have to compete, for that role, with Annan, Agyemang Badu and Derrick Boateng. Sulley cannot compete with Kwadwo Asamoah or Prince Boateng in the attacking midfield role. So, much as Sulley’s recent dedication is to be admired, I believe his role will have to be coming on from the bench in the latter stages of matches to exploit the opponent’s weary legs with his brilliant left foot, nicking a goal every now and again.

Why do we not use Derrick Boateng more often than we have been doing? I must be missing something here, but anytime I have seen this guy play, I have been impressed by his physique and skill in midfield and in the game against England, his introduction in the second half changed the game for Ghana. Does anybody know why we don’t use him more often?

Poor Adiyah was overwhelmed by the whole Wembley experience and missed two clear chances. But the fact that he got those chances in the first place, mean the guy has got what it takes. With time, he will start scoring at the highest level. He has the intelligence, if not the physique to get to the top.

I don’t know about you, but I think I like this new coach. He speaks good English and appears to be a humble, likeable personality. He even apologised for our first half performance. His changes in the second half showed his tactical prowess. I pray he takes us to the final of the next World Cup.

It was nice to see Stephen Appiah on the pitch before the match chatting to Fabio Capello. There was a certain mutual respect visible that made us all proud. During the game, I saw Mr E...... He seemed happy and full of laughter. How anybody could be happy missing a game like this with 21,000 Ghanaians in the stands beats me. When the Black Stars was formed, it constituted as much a political tool as a national football team. The Black Stars epitomised Nkrumah’s view of a new African personality and identity - An African ready to fight his own battle and in his words, to prove to the world, that the black man was fully capable of manning his own affairs. Nkrumah fully understood the importance of sports in winning friends and influencing people. The Black Stars thus became ambassadors of Ghana, spreading not only Nkrumah’s gospel of pan-africanism, but also hope and inspiration to the rest of Africa. This was evident in the Ghana-England match as Ghana, in their performance and the behaviour of the fans, won new friends around the world.

I perused the British press, the day after the match, and found one little article in the Daily Mirror written by Mike Walters, which I think makes very interesting reading. I have reproduced it here word-for-word for your enjoyment. “At the world cup ties that never happened, the racket was nearer Accra town than Accrington. And as 21,000 Ghanaian fans daubed Wembley in a riot of colour, Fabio Capello finally discovered what it is like to have a party in Africa instead of a awake.

On the route march along Empire Way, it might have been the usual diet of burgers, hot dogs and horse droppings. But inside the national stadium, it was as if the flavours had all been imported direct from the Gulf of Guinea – yams, fufu and jollof rice. One man’s beef is another man’s okra stew, but a smarter –than- average friendly left Capello with plenty of food for thought.

If only England had played properly in South Africa instead of moaning about boot camps and strolling into “easy” games against the USA and Algeria with a superiority complex, they would have topped their group and landed an exotic tie against the Black Stars in the last 16. Ghana were so thrilled to become only the fourth African nation to play at Wembley that informal dialogue has already started about a reciprocal visit by the Three Lions to the Ohene Djan in Accra.

“We have unfinished business with England”, said Fred Acquah, 39, a clinical nurse from Wellingborough who joined the Ghana Army’s colonisation of our national stadium. End-of –season friendlies are usually monuments to tedium, but nobody could level that charge at the World Cup quarter-finalists. The team was vibrant, and those 21000 cultural attaches formed the largest visiting contingent since the Tartan Army’s last real invasion of Wembley at the Rous Cup in 1988.

And for all the treats awaiting us at Wembley in future, there is now some corner of a foreign field that is forever African.

Akwaaba, Ghana” Enough said Papa Appiah