Black Stars’ early kayo and unfolding dramas

 It was Friday, December 2, 2022, the venue was the Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar and the event was a crucial match to determine who qualifies to the Group of 16 stage of the 2022 World Cup tournament, between Ghana and Uruguay, both of whom are in Group H, considered a group of death in the on-going world soccer fiesta. Ghana, with three points ahead of Uruguay and South Korea, and lying second on the league table, needed a win or a draw to advance to the knockout stage of the competition. Portugal, with six points to its credit, topped the group and, therefore, firmly secured to advance to the group of 16 stage of the competition.


Considering the drama that unfolded in the 2010 World Cup tournament in South Africa, in which certain Luis Suarez of Uruguay made it impossible for Ghana to advance to the semi- final stage of the com­petition, using his hands to clear the ball from the goal post of which the resultant penalty was wasted by Gha­na’s captain and prolific goal poach­er, Asamoah Gyan, Ghanaians were hopeful that, this was the time for a possible revenge and that victory would be ours at all cost. Connois­seurs of football, have tipped Ghana to win that match and advanced to the next stage of the competition, in view of their three points advantage over Uruguay and South Korea, who had a point each.

Days before that match and after the match itself on Friday, Decem­ber 2, 2022, there had been a series of drama from certain personalities including former Black Stars player during studios’ discussions, thus, hyping tension among Ghanaians in that particular encounter.That game itself, looked as if Ghana had reached the finals of this tournament and that Ghana was heading for the golden trophy. The whole country was quiet like a catacomb, as Gha­naians were glued to their television sets to watch that crucial encounter, waiting for victory to come so that the country could explode in joy and ecstasy. But that was not to be, as Ghanaians were given the shock of their lives by conceding two goals to Uruguay. It was a painful defeat and I am sure that many households lost appetite for supper and slept early.


The emerging dramas that unfolded after the defeat, were unimaginable and difficult to comprehend. Peo­ple shed tears uncontrollably, some husbands refused to talk to their wives due to intense anger, while others shaved their hairs and beards to register their protests and anger. Perhaps, what could console Ghanaians a little, was the inability of Uruguay to use their score line to advance to the knockout stage of the competition because South Korea was able to beat Portugal 2-1 and advanced on basis of head-to head to the knockout stage of the competition.

It was painful and emotional spectacle, when veteran Sports jour­nalist, writer and commentator Mr. KwabenaYeboah, was spotted in tears on a national television studio. That sad moment occurred during a GTV studio discussion, leading to the match between Ghana and Uruguay in Qa­tar’s ongoing World Cup tournament. Kwabena Yeboah and other studio pan­ellists including John Painstil, former Black Star player, were all emotional, when a video of Suarez handling the ball out their goal post in the 2010 World Cup tournament in South Africa, and that of Asamoah Gyan, missing his penalty was shown on the television screen.

Another worrying drama, involved a former Black Stars midfielder, Em­manuel Agyeman-Badu, who had his hair shaved on national television, following Ghana’s loss to Uruguay. The former Udinese player, had to fulfil his promise of getting his hair shaved, should Ghana fail to qualify to the knockout stage of the compe­tition. When the game finally ended with Ghana losing 2-0 to Uruguay, Agyemang-Badu had to eat his humble pie by honouring his promise. A barber was invited into the TV 3 Studio, who immediately cleared all the hair off the head of Agyeman-Badu, who cur­rently plays for Accra Great Olympics in the national premier league.

It is recalled that a few weeks ago, Agyemang-Badu made a bold declara­tion in the studio of TV 3 that, Ghana was going to qualify to the group of 16 stage of the competition at all cost. Hear him, “With set pieces, we are progressing well over time. We are not yet in the air. We now have a sturdy bench. I am not certain that this will lose their chance to advance from the group. If they don’t, I will shave off all my hair on live TV”.


What is most astonishing and shocking to Ghanaians was the sharp announcement by Coach Otto Addo about his resignation in a post-match interview by the press. According to him, he had already indicated before the start of the World Cup that he would step down from his job after the competition, regardless of Gha­na’s performance. As he put it, “Me and my family are happy in Germa­ny. I said I would step down after the World Cup, even if we are world champions after the tournament. I have resigned my role as Ghana’s coach”.

Even though Coach Otto Addo has explained the reason for his resigna­tion, the announcement was quite in a haste, as many Ghanaians will view it. You took your army to a battle front, and soon after you have been defeated, you have decided to leave them in the midstream by denouncing your leadership role. Why didn’t you wait for the team to return to Ghana before announcing your resignation as a coach? The cheek of it was to say that your family are better off in Germany. What do you take this country or Ghanaians for?


The blame should be placed at the doorsteps of the government and the football governing body, Ghana Foot­ball Association (GFA) who contract­ed this coach to lead the technical bench of the Black Stars. When he told the whole nation during the time of his recruitment that he was going to combine the Dortmund job with the Black Stars coaching job, many were those who thought that the handling of the team should be a full time job and, therefore, he should be allowed to choose between the two jobs, the one that was dear to his heart. That advice from Ghanaians was flatly ignored and the contract was awarded. At a point, he was operating from Germany and directing affairs of the team in Ghana and the GFA accepted that. Yes, he was able to help Ghana to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar at the expense of Nigeria, but that did not give him the impunity to do what he liked. Some­times, the way he reacted to media interviews, showed some sort of arro­gance in his utterances.


Coming to the game itself with Uruguay, the matured manner in which Mohammed Kudus, AFC Ajax Amsterdam player and Ghana’s standout performer in the Black Stars team, spoke to sports journalists in a post-match interview was so commendable. When quizzed about his general impression about the match as well as the penalty missed by Captain Andre Dede Ayew, this was what he had to say, “First I want to re­ally thank Ghanaians. I know they are very disappointed right now, but I really want to thank them for their support from the start to today, even some flew all the way from Ghana to Qatar to sup­port us. It has been incredible and we want to thank them for their prayers and support and we will keep improving as human beings and then we will do better next time”.

On Dede’s missed penalty, he said that was not the ultimate reason for Ghana’s defeat. He, however, said that missed chances including those from him could have changed the outcome of the game and aided Ghana to progress to the Round of 16. These were the intelligent remarks from a young and skillful player who had earlier on won the Budweiser Man-of-the Match award in a game in which Ghana beat South Korea by 3-2. In that hectic encounter, Kudus scored two important goals to earn Ghana the maximum three points, thus placing it initially, above Uruguay and South Korea. He later told the me­dia that, the award had been dedicat­ed to all his players, both on the field and on the bench. That was a matured statement from a youngster.


We have been exited from the ongo­ing World Cup tournament in Qatar, but we have not been disgraced. We have to put our acts together with these youthful, skillful and talented players and victory will be ours in future tour­naments. We have to encourage and nurture these young players to bring honours to our country and to encour­age more jubilations from Ghanaians including the Speaker of Parliament, Hon Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin.

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By Charles Neequaye

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