The Black Stars of Ghana travelled to play the Pharaohs of Egypt at the Borg El-Arab, Stadium- Alexandria. It was a FIFA World Cup qualifier. Much was expected from the Ghanaian team who in recent times has been in the bad books of their fans. Going into the game, the Black Stars had drawn at home against the Cranes of Uganda- a result that may have shocked a lot of Ghanaians. In Alexandria, the squad demonstrated their growth against an opponent with whom they have a joyful history recent history and who were the last side the Black Stars defeated to make it to the 2014 World Cup.
Serene qualification has become an assumed tradition, but also a false indicator for the Black Stars. Three (3) consecutive qualifications for the team corroborate how well and highly the Black Stars is rated in the world as far as football is concerned. Their Exploits in Germany in 2006 during the debut campaign was one that will forever longer linger in the minds of Ghanaians. The Black Stars lost against Italy in the first game but came back strongly to beat the Czech Republic and the U.S.A to only to lose to giants Brazil in the 1/16 stage.
As if that was not enough, their heroics in South Africa four years (4) years later were remarkable. The stars were an inch close to the semi-finals only to lose on penalties to Luis Suarez’s Uruguay. It was a painful defeat inflicted on Ghanaians and it was taken in good faith as the players were given a rousing welcome when they returned from the mundial. There was always an air of forced gaiety any time the Black Stars played. Mammoth street carnivals followed their victory.
Fast forward to today, things have changed. The Stars are gradually losing the tag as one of the forces to reckon with in the African continent and the world at large. There is apathy surrounding the Black Stars games in recent times. The Stars now play against a tide of hostility from their own fans. Ghanaians are seen gloating over misfortunes of the Black Stars as was the case last Sunday when they lost to their Egyptian counterparts.
Prior to the game against Egypt, the Black Stars had played four (4) matches including friendlies without a win- losing one and drawing three. None of their predicament seems to excite the football family who still can’t forgive and let go the hurts the Stars put them through in Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The fans feel their unconditional love was insensitively abused by the Stars’ unpatriotic showing at the World Cup. Never in Ghana’s history has the team been so out of touch and love with its followers.
The nation was held ransom due to a delay in the settlement of their appearance fee. The Black Stars chose the obsession for money over patriotism, shameful impulsiveness over responsible patience, heartlessly turning their back on the nation. The raging disgrace they subjected the nation to and in full glare of the world, the unforgivable squabbles in camp, the disrespect shown by players towards the coaches, management and fans, the episode of physical assault, the unthinkable attempt to boycott trainings and even a game in the name of money delays, the headline- grabbing jet full of cash flown to them were unbearable vexations even for the most tolerant souls.
Yes the players erred but as a nation, can’t we forgive them, support them and bring back the ‘Mojo’ surrounding the team?
The Black Stars faces an uphill task of making it to Russia for the World Cup in 2018 as the Stars trail the Egyptians by five (5) points but I believe the return of love from the nation will help buoy the confidence of the players as they prepare for the African Nations Cup in Gabon early next year as they seek to end the 32 years trophy drought. The Black Stars have suffered enough for their past mistakes, they’ve learnt their lessons and only hope to continue their bromance with their loyal vociferous fans.