Ghana Black Stars: Where is the luster?

Ghana’s national soccer team, the Black Stars went into the 2013 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) games in South Africa as the hot favorites. The basis for the pundits’ choice of the Ghanaians is murky and spurious further to the performances of the Black Stars in earlier meets. The kind of performance the Stars put up in South Africa only proved that the Ghanaians are overrated. But truth be said: the Ghana Black Stars is not a bad side. They possess all the attributes of a great soccer team and they have the pedigree. But unlike the Stars we know, the boys this time do not have  the pizzazz of the Stars we know.

Stars captain Asamoah Gyan was valiant enough to accept defeat after their match with Burkina Faso and added that it was unfair to blame the field of play for his team’s lack luster performance. Football or soccer in Ghana is next to politics and Ghanaian soccer enthusiasts do not take the loss of their darling team kindly. Asamoah Gyan  has a story to tell when it comes to that. His failure at a couple of penalty shots during the 2010 World Cup made his mother warn him against taking any such shots in future and he listened. But whether or not he took any shots this time – which he did not do anyway – his team could not win the match with Burkina Faso. Neither could they beat Mali for the bronze.

There is every indication that the Black Stars need more than training. They receive enough from the individual teams they play for in Europe and Asia. The same can be said of the players from Burkina Faso and Mali. Each of the national teams that played in the games has players playing all over the world. Much of the criticisms leveled at the Stars have always been that they need to play like a team.

The match with Burkina Faso gave the Stars away as indisciplined and uncoordinated. The Burkinabe held the ball 60 percent of the time. The Stars got their goals from a penalty which should not have been called by the referee whose suspension is not surprising.

The team that played in this year’s Afcon games was not the best but it was not supposed to be the worst. It had it all: youthfulness, energy and speed, but it lacked the discipline to put the ball into the net. Asamoah Gyan played a captain’s game during the initial stages but could not improve upon it in subsequent games. Obviously, there must be something wrong, but is it cohesion or indiscipline?

Maybe the state of the nation at this time has something to do with the performance of our boys. After a tough election, Ghana is still in an ad hoc state of mind because of the contest pending in court.  Football and politics are entwined in Ghana and there is no doubt that one influences the other.

The dynamism needed in sports management in general is lacking. Ghana has not been much of an Olympic team but the country’s Olympic squad for the London Games was the worst ever. With only nine competitors the expectation was that Ghana could grab at least a bronze. If nine competitors are selected to represent 24 million people, they must be the best in what they do. Contrary to expectations, the Ghanaian squad had to leave for home earlier than expected.

Ghanaians love to boast about their past glories and still judge the Black Stars on the team’s proud history. Ghana has held the Afcon cup for four times at a time when football in Africa was not much developed much in most African countries. That time is gone. Soccer like other contact sports has undergone several transformations. Like everything else technology has been introduced into the game and it is not cheap. In the United States coaches are only managers who supervise sub-coaches. Each position in basketball and the other games, not excluding soccer has a coach and so the player goes to the field knowing what he has to do. It is only a matter of time but the U.S. could be a soccer power house very soon. Ghana has the experience, but the powers that be lack the foresight and political will to develop the game.

Football is now an exportable commodity. The majority of Ghana’s few millionaires happen to be soccer players in Europe and other countries. A few years ago soccer academies sprung up all over the country but nothing was done to coordinate them into a single unit of training. As is done with the country’s resources, strangers come into the country, hunt for the best and for a few dollars and cents, fly them out. It is only when they shine that we hear about them at home in Ghana. Those who are unfortunate enough to show any class are chaffed out.

There is everything to gain from improving the standard of soccer in Ghana. The game can take care of itself economically but all it takes is commitment and professionalism from managers and administrators of the sport as well as governmental support. Ghana still has a chance to win the World Cup in our lifetime.

Posted by on Mar 26 2013. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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