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Sports Features of Saturday, 1 July 2006

Source: Ulzen, Thaddeus P. Manus

The Soccer Dreams of Three Generations (III)

The dream has come to a screeching halt!... for now. The post ?morgum has begun and the various spin ?meisters and newly minted experts are all having their say. They range from the superstitious and paranoid to those with a highly technical analysis of what went wrong. It?s simple. The game with Brazil exposed our weaknesses for all to see. The Black Stars outplayed the Brazilians and indeed the Italians without scoring. That is what Association football is about?. Goals!

The tournament did not have a nightmarish ending for the Black Stars because given the obstacles of possibly biased officiating and sheer bad luck (luck is part of the game), we came up short. The yellow card epidemic warrants closer examination. African countries seemed to have special nectar for attracting the bee of yellow cards. I do not want to wallow in yellow card sorrow but my son must have thought I was a prophet when I told him Essien was going to get a yellow card in the USA game, barely 2 minutes before the clever deed was done. I?ve watched the advance of many an African team stymied, World cup after world cup.

Right after the first games played by the Ivory Coast, Togo and Angola it was obvious that yellow and red cards had a special predilection for African players. Right at that point, in my dream of dreams, I imagined a press conference being called by the African soccer federations with slo-mo video tapes of denied penalties, unwarranted yellow cards and European offside goals for all to see. They were nowhere to be found. I guess they were just happy enough to have been invited to the party and were not going to complain about the poor menu being served.

What about the ?Draman? and ?Kingson? issue? Could we not get our players names straight? Whose job was it to fix this problem before the games began? If we can accept any name, we will accept any decision foisted on us. I already had the greatest respect for Doya before we started out in Hanover because I read him as a discipline freak. He is the only person who earned his red card. Good for you Doya for saying it like it is in Serbo-Croatian or Slovakian to the referee. I could tell the complaint was in the vernacular! In my books, you deserve to be Member of the Star of Ghana ? Civil Division.

This game with Brazil said tons about our national character. Catholic ?born and raised, I had never seen so many signs of the cross being executed after every play. God may have been in our corner but we needed to find the net. I?ve always found religion misplaced to the extent that it stifles initiative and creativity. Pray we must, but the work at hand must be done too. Heaven helps those who find the net in the Church of Association Football. We were very often not taking chances we should have. The Ghanaian is not a coward but he is too deliberate and careful. Sometimes this is costly as we found out.

The real lesson here is that for us to be more successful than we have been, we must manage soccer in Ghana very carefully. We should avoid politicizing it, grow and nurture our players from their earliest years in the game and teach them how to shoot to score! Bravo Ghana, we did the best we could against the odds! We should be satisfied with nothing less than the ultimate prize but we have to work really hard to achieve our goal of worldwide soccer supremacy. Our players have been fantastic ambassadors for our young democracy.

Dr. Thaddeus P. Manus Ulzen