As the senior national football team, the Black Stars prepares for their fourth appearance in the world’s most-anticipated football tournament, the expectations of Ghanaians are rising to unrealistic levels.
This has been to the extent that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Sports Minister Mustapha Ussif and other high-profile personalities are expressing the hope that Ghana is capable of winning the trophy.
This unrealistic expectation is being fuelled by a section of the media that keep hyping the qualities of some players, mostly players who have switched nationality to play for the Black Starts, as well as other players in top form for their club sides.
Ghana’s new talents
Ghana’s new talents include Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey, Atletico Bilbao’s Inaki Williams, Southampton’s Mohammed Salisu, and Hamburg’s Ghanaian trio: Patrick Pfeiffer, Ransford Yeboah, and Stephen Ambrosius.
Other key players
Thomas Partey (Arsenal star), Daniel Amartey (Leicester City), Gideon Mensah (AJ Auxerre), Alexander Djiku (Racing Strasbourg), Daniel-Kofi Kyereh (SC Freiburg), Mohammed Kudus (AFC Ajax), Abdul Fatawu Issahaku (Sporting Lisbon), and Osman Bukari (Red Star Belgrade, among others, are all in top form for their clubs.
Group stage exit from AFCON in Cameroon
Ghanaians cannot pretend to forget that the Black Stars in January last year suffered an unexpected group stage exit from the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) competition after failing to win any of their three group games in Cameroon.
During the qualifiers for the AFCON, Ghana only won their qualifying group ahead of South Africa on goals scored and were not seeded for the play-off draw.
Ghana’s worst performance in the history of AFCON
The shambolic performance in the AFCON has been labelled as the country’s worst performance in the history of the competition.
In what can be described as a rescue mission, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) dismissed coach Milovan Rajevac.
Otto Addo led technical team appointed
With a crucial World Cup playoff against Nigeria on the line up, GFA then appointed Borussia Dortmund talent development, coach Otto Addo, as the interim Black Stars coach, supported by former Norwich City and Brighton and Hove Albion manager, Chris Hughton, as the new technical advisor to the new technical team.
The then Aston Villa under-23 boss, George Boateng, and Nordsjaelland coach, Mas-Ud Didi Dramani, were also appointed into new Black Stars technical team as assistant coaches.
The quartet masterminded the Black Stars’ qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar after eliminating West African rivals Nigeria in the playoff.
Ghana beat Nigeria to qualify
The four-member team got to work and the Black Stars booked their place for this year’s Mundial with an away goal advantage from a 1-1 aggregate scoreline, having drawn 0-0 in Kumasi and 1-1 in Abuja.
GFA extends tenure of Otto Addo led technical team
Following the qualification, which brought big relief to the football association since it was under extreme pressure from the poor showing in AFCON, the GFA extended the contract of coach Otto Addo to the end of December, ensuring that the former international player is in charge at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The deal also ensures that Coach Addo’s coaching crew, including Hughton, Boateng and Dramani, will also stay in their roles as coaches of the national team until December 2022.
Otto Addo wins 2 out of 8 games
Since taking over in February 2021, Coach Addo and his technical team and players have won two out of eight games, drew 3 and lost 3.
Other games played
Aside from the two legs with Nigeria, the Black Stars managed to beat Madagascar 3-0 in Cape Coast in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The streak has featured two losses against Brazil (3-0) and Japan (4-1) in the Kirin Cup, as well as draws with Central African Republic (1-1) and Chile (0-0).
The Black Stars also defeated Nicaragua 1-0 in a friendly game played in Spain.
Ghana to play Switzerland on November 17
The four-time African champions will test their strength against Switzerland, the Euro 2020 quarter-finalist on November 17, 2022 at the Baniyas Club Stadium before the Mundial kicks off on November 20, 2022.
Huge improvement over AFCON humiliation
Though one could say that the performance of the team under Coach Addo represents a huge improvement on their Cup of Nations humiliation when they failed to qualify from their group, the Black Stars have a lot of improving to do if they are to do anything once they arrive in Qatar.
Teamwork, collaboration and cohesion
Football is a sport where success and failure are measured by teamwork.
But in the long run, personal success will be achieved through everyone’s success, and that is when teamwork comes into play.
Football involves the collaboration of each of the players, companionship and solidarity, the struggle in cohesion and the acceptance of victory or defeat as a result of teamwork.
The cohesion of the Black Starts will enhance the team’s performance; therefore, a circular correlation between cohesion and execution is critical.
If there is good group cohesion, the team’s performance will be favourable and, at the same time, that success achieved will strengthen the Black Stars.
Conversely, the lack of cohesion will damage the performance and failures will weaken this cohesion.
Possible core of Black Stars team
You don’t have to be told that new talent such as Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey, Atletico Bilbao’s Inaki Williams, Southampton’s Mohammed Salisu, and Hamburg’s Ghanaian trio — Patrick Pfeiffer, Ransford Yeboah, and Stephen Ambrosius — will be part of the core of the Black Stars team in Qatar.
Players have not played together for a considerable time
However, one cannot talk about cohesion when these players have not played together for a considerable time.
Under Coach Addo, the team has played only eight games, and some of the players expected to play key roles in the success of the Black Stars at the World Cup have not even played full 90 minutes in a game.
Others have played less than five matches and one cannot, therefore, guarantee the expected cohesion and collaboration.
No established goal poacher
In the current team, the key players expected to lead the attack for the Black Stars have not scored significant number of goals for the team.
At the World Cup, progress in the tournament depends on winning matches, and winning matches require scoring goals.
Scored 7 goals in 8 games
In the eight matches played under Coach Addo, the team scored seven goals; one against Nigeria, one against Japan, one against Central African Republic, one against Nicaragua and three against Madagascar. All the seven goals were scored in five out of the eight matches.
Clearly, the team cannot boast of a player considered as the prolific striker under Coach Addo though the only prospect is Mohammed Kudus.
12 goals conceded in 8 matches
On the other hand, the team conceded 12 goals: three against Brazil, four against Japan, one against Nigeria and one against Central Africa Republic.
Conceding 12 goals in four matches out of the eight games played under the current technical team points to a defensive problem, especially with the goal keeping department
Who is the goal poacher?
While the team cannot point to any particular player as the goal poacher, the defense cannot also be said to be that solid to prevent goals from entering the post of the Black Stars.
Can a coach build winning team with 8 matches?
It must be stated that it is unrealistic for football fans, administrators and pundits to expect any coach to use eight matches to rebuild a team that can perform wonders at the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Ghana in Group H
Group H includes Portugal, Uruguay, South Korea and Ghana, with Cristiano Ronaldo on track to open his fifth straight World Cup finals by facing Ghana.
The top two teams in the standings of each group advance to the round of 16 knockout stage.
Progressing out of the group stage is a tough test
Using current form, the Black Stars progressing out of the group stage at this World Cup is a tough test.
Though it is the wish of most Ghanaians that the senior national football team will progress to the next stage and possibly to the quarter-finals, the reality is that the current performance does not suggest so.
Accept whatever happens in Qatar in good faith
In the event that Ghana does not progress out of the group, football fans, administrators, pundits, and all Ghanaians should take it in good faith.
Focus should be on next AFCON
The country should rally behind the technical team, players and the GFA to turn their attention to the next AFCON.
The team should focus on qualifying for the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023.
Breaking the 40 years AFCON jinx
Ensuring qualification with improvement in each game can then give Ghanaians confidence and reason to expect the Black Stars to win the next AFCON and be prepared to take the next World Cup in the North America by storm.
Top-notch quality technical team
Coach Addo and his technical team are top-notch quality and the players assembled so far have the needed qualities to play world-class football when given the time to blend as a team.
GFA deserves applause
It is also fair to applaud the GFA for constituting such a technical team that has identified some of Ghana’s best players around the world and invited them to play for the Black Stars.
Their hard work has ensured that some players who previously vowed never to play for the nation due to what they described as ill treatment by former GFA executives have now joined the team.
All stakeholders must unite behind this team and given them time to blend and restore Ghana’s footballing glory in the next AFCON and subsequent World Cup.
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