Black Stars, a team in crisis (Part 1)

Black Stars, a team in crisis (Part 1)

The Black Stars squad for AFCON 2023 IN Cote d’Ivoire

 Gradually, the mention of the Black Stars, referencing the senior national male football team, is becoming a nuisance in the ears of Ghanaian fans and non-fans.

It used to be a team that brought joy to Ghanaians despite winning nothing.

That notwithstand­ing, the fans chose to adore the team; not purposefully for the result they produce but the sight of some of the great players that put the nation on the map as a football powerhouse.

But it has become very difficult to write about this team and lump all the gener­ations together.

It is easier when one separates the trophy-winning generations without rec­ognisable reward packages from the overly-pampered, over-hyped and paid genera­tion that has added nothing to what their predecessors won or achieved.

Perhaps, it is the reason Ghana’s Black Stars trophy cabinet still has only four trophies – all AFCON, with the last in 1982 regardless of the huge expenditure that goes into bonuses, accom­modation, preparation for games, logistics and many others.

The Black Stars squad that failed to shine in the Cote d'Ivoire 2023 AFCON
The Black Stars squad that failed to shine in the Cote d’Ivoire 2023 AFCON

The excuse has always been about the evolution of the game and the fact that more countries have devel­oped or improved.

Others also held the view of the game becoming more competitive and has moved from the era where only four countries took part in the AFCON.

But from Ghana’s per­formance in the last two AFCONs, especially Cote d’Ivoire 2023, one can easily argue that Chris Hughton’s Black Stars would not have qualified to the final in that four-nation AFCON.

The team has won the AFCON four times (1963, 1965, 1978, and 1982), and finished as runners-up on five occasions (1968, 1970, 1992, 2010, and 2015).

That clearly explains the quality and serious­ness of the genera­tions.

For over 40 years, there is no credible achievement to be at­tributed to the team; be it AFCON or World Cup.

When the Black Stars secured Gha­na’s first World Cup qualification for Ger­many 2006 that was equated to about two AFCON trophies by a few overzealous and excited fans; but they can be pardoned be­cause the ecstasy and elation that followed was overwhelming.

After four editions, a quarterfinal berth became the highest feat and Africa country chalked until Moroc­co did the unthinkable – a semifinal berth.

In spite of Ghana’s form, a few brave-hearted fans trusted the Black Stars to deliver at the ongoing AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire.

Interestingly, the cam­paign crashed painfully in a repeat of the 2021 edition and manner that should even make every member of the team resign from whatever role assigned to him or her.

The Cameroun AFCON marked a sad end with an ego-battering 3-2 defeat to Comoros at the Roumdjé Adjia Stadium in Garoua.

That was after the Black Stars had managed to pick just a point in their first two matches.

It left them with a huge task of winning at all cost after losing their Group C opener 1-0 to Morocco and surrendered a lead to Gabon in the second game.

When it got to the crunch against the Islanders from Comoros, the Black Stars conceded late to complete a shambolic show at what was expected to be the biggest platform for African coun­tries to show the world what they were made of.

The ‘Director’ for that ‘play’ in Cameroun was returnee Serbian trainer Milovan Rajevac.

It appears Hughton was presented with the same script but altered a few scene to make the play his own.

He met sharks from another Island – Cape Verde in a Group B opener and lost as Ghana’s struggles against Islanders continued.

 By Andrew Nortey

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