On the eve of Friday 1st September, Ghanaian football fans were hoping for a turnaround in fortunes in the nation’s quest for yet another journey to the gathering of football nations in the world. We were greeted with news the previous day that Egypt had lost by a lone goal to Uganda.
Certainly, as optimistic football fans, we thought this was a sign of the light at the end of the tunnel. Little did we know, that our hopes were to be squashed by the end of the day. Congo came to Kumasi with one mission alone – to rekindle their light of hope of gracing the stage in Russia next year. Kumasi has been a fortress for the Black Stars in recent times, a venue of the historic six-nil drubbing of the Pharaohs of Egypt which took Ghana to Brazil in 2014. Such performances from the Black stars are now part of our memories.
Players of the Black Stars, knowing what was at stake, started the match poorly. The Congolese started the match hungrier for the win and they were rewarded as they took a lead in the 18th minute through Thievy Bifouma. The Congolese allowed the Black Stars to keep the ball for much of the 1st half sitting deep and hitting the Ghanaians on the counter. Ghana didn’t make any use of the possession they had in the first half where they struggled to create any clear cut chance. The first half clearly lacked the intensity we are used to seeing from Black Stars matches.
Black Stars managed to salvage a point in the final minutes of the match when Thomas Partey calmly finished a move from the energetic Christian Atsu, one of the few players who really showed up for this match. It’s disheartening when the strikers who are to bang in the goals for a team, can’t make the effort to even try and make their teammates proud with the passes fed to them.
Overall it was a shambolic performance from the Black Stars. We can as well say Goodbye to Russia now. If you had started making plans for Russia, you might just as well put a stop to those plans.
The coach has to find a replacement for our beloved captain Asamoah Gyan, whose playing days for the national team are numbered now. Jordan Ayew was given yet another opportunity to lay claim to that responsibility of scoring goals when it matters most. But unfortunately, when the spotlight is on Jordan Ayew, he manages to fluff his opportunity.
To add insult to injury, it was sad seeing the likes of Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan deliver ineffectual performances which led to their eventual substitution. They became quasi-assistant coaches in the final minutes, attempting to guide their team mates as to which moves to make. If they had done better whilst on the pitch, the team wouldn’t have been chasing the game late on in a bid to preserve the little pride we have as a passionate football nation.
After Uganda’s win at home to Egypt, the single ticket to Russia from Group E is now between the Cranes of Uganda and the Pharaohs of Egypt. To be honest, the Black Stars don’t deserve the chance to go to the World Cup this time around after dismal performances so far. It’s better for them to stay at home and plan better for Qatar 2022.
We can as well say Goodbye to Russia and get prepared to witness the next World Cup without the Black Stars representing Africa.
WRITER: Kwesi Otoo