The Ghana Black Stars: Matters Arising

Association Football, popularly called football the world over and soccer in the United States of America is the most widely played game in the world. The Federation Internationale de Football Association – FIFA – was established in 1904, among other things, to foster unity and organize soccer tournaments including the World Cup among nations. The 22nd mens’ FIFA World Cup in Qatar from November 20 to December 18 has several firsts: first to be held in the Arab world of 22 countries, first in the Muslim world of two billion people, first in the Middle East, and first to be held in November to December. It was also the first time that all five teams from Africa had African coaches. And Morocco became the first African team to reach the tournament’s semifinals in their fairy tale journey in Qatar.

Ghana had the youngest team in the tournament and was the least rated among the 32 teams. The West African country was eliminated at the group stage and all of a sudden, Ghanaians, including this newspaper became pundits. It is understandably so, because Ghana, like several other Africa countries, is an intensely soccer-loving nation. Even though eliminated, skills displayed by Ghanaians on the field portends a potential soccer powerhouse in Africa and indeed the world if resources are well harnessed by a competent administration. This publication believes the team came up short of expectations and did not stand a dog’s chance not because of naivety but rather inherent negatives off the field among stakeholders.

Several challenges need to be confronted head on and resolved before the Black Stars can hope to achieve international laurels. Top among them is housecleaning within the Ghana Football Association (GFA). Owners and stakeholders of soccer clubs in Ghana must decouple themselves from being members of GFA. Further, previous owners and stakeholders in local clubs must not be on any committee of the GFA. Similarly, any new GFA member must repudiate interest in local soccer clubs. This, and some, hopefully would curtail their (the GFA membership) influence on the technical team of the Black Stars in player calling and selection.

The technical team should include an efficient and effective psychology unit that clearly understands when psychological services are needed most. Prior to FIFA World Cup of 2014 in Brazil, a Black Stars defender Jerry Akaminko was hurt in their last friendly match against the Netherlands. Moral and other support offered by GFA, was if any, peripheral. At Qatar, the Black Stars went to sleep after captain Andre Ayew missed a penalty kick earlier in the first half against Uruguay. On the other hand, even though Morocco lost to France in the semifinals, it fought gallantly till the end.  It appeared there was moral injury, decay and decadence after the missed penalty as if the game solely was dependent on the one penalty.

To all intents and purposes Uruguay won the game before it started. Ghana’s number one soccer nemesis, Luis Alberto Suares Diaz a.k.a. el pistolero seemed to have intimidated Ghana’s team with his provocative, yet confident pronouncements before the game, highlighting that Uruguay would capitalize on the weak defense of the Black Stars to win the game. And win they did, exactly according to Suares’ description of the Star’s weakness. We are not privy to half time chats between players and their handlers, psychologists inclusive, but there wasn’t much inspiration and motivation at the beginning of the second half. The Black Stars needed someone to remind them that soccer is played on grass, not on glass.

The current crop of the Black Stars has talent and must keep their heads up. They didn’t disappoint, management and handlers did.

Prior to the tournament, Ghana played FIFA-sanctioned international friendly games against Switzerland and some other teams. Such friendlies are geared to assess and prepare the skills, experience, and mental preparedness, among others, on the field. In the game with Switzerland that did not include key players such as Partey and Kudus the Black Stars won 2-0. Unfortunately, Elisha Owusu, and Daniel Afriyie Barnieh who excelled in the friendly games saw no action whatsoever in the tournament.

Technical handlers are judged on the decisions they make, and we think they owe Ghanaians some explanation.  We do not buy into the notion of loyalty to older players because newer and younger prospective players would evolve and appear on the scene, and it would be inimical to Ghana to bench them in the name of “loyalty”. The comparatively youthful Black Stars should stick and play together more often like birds of the same feathers for ease of chemistry flow within the playing body.

Amandla considers playing a game or representing one’s nation in a sport as a labor of love even though it has its tangible and intangible benefits.  In soccer, exposure to the international circuit for a great player could be a windfall, besides pride.

Well ahead of FIFA’s World Cup 2022 in Qatar, the Ghana Football Association placed premium on Ghanaians born outside the country and playing competitive soccer at club levels outside of Ghana to come on board. GFA succeeded in bringing in a few and we applaud their talent hunt. However, we are at a loss about the national status of these drafted players with Ghanaian roots. Are they classified as full-fledged, half, or temporary Ghanaians? Or, are they Ghanaians only when called up to play for Ghana?

Quite a few of the players who featured for the Black Stars in the World Cup were not born in Ghana but switched nationality from their countries of birth through parental or other lineage. However, Ghanaians born and bred in the country who migrated to and acquired citizenship of their countries of residence are barred by Ghana’s Constitution of 1992 to be parliamentarians or hold some public positions in Ghana. That smacks of hypocrisy at the core and for that we are angry, indeed very angry.

Ghana’s coach at the World Cup, Otto Addo was born in Germany but was referred to as one of five African coaches at the tournament. The eyes of the likes of Dede Ayew, Tariq Lamptey, Inaki Williams, Antoine Semenyo who toiled and sweated in the sweltering heat of Qatar would see Ghana’s Parliament House but their feet would never step there if they choose to run for elections later in life.

But that is the verdict of Ghana’s warped 1992 Constitution.  Hitherto, we thought that once born a Ghanaian, always a Ghanaian.


Posted by on Dec 15 2022. Filed under Editorial. 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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