The senior national team, the Black Stars of Ghana have yet again qualified to play at the highest stage?of world football, the World Cup (WC), where the best teams in the world converge to play for honours, pride and fight for their national?flags and ultimately the much-coveted trophy.
The?Black Stars, except Russia 2018 would be appearing in their fourth consecutive world cup, after making their debut appearance at the Germany 2006 WC, South Africa (SA) 2010 WC, Brazil 2014 and now Qatar 2022 WC.
Out of the three appearances made by the Stars at WC’s, the SA 2010 would?be remembered?by Ghanaians and Africans as the closest any team on the continent had gone by way of performance in the quest to?reach the semi-final to attempt claiming the world’s?most prestigious football trophy in the finals, all things being equal.
Ghana, the last African Country remaining in the SA WC, on Friday, July 2, 2010, in that crucial quarter-final encounter with Uruguay at the FNB Sports Stadium scored the first goal in the 45th minute through Sulley Muntari, but, Diago Forlan equalised for the Uruguayans in the 55th minute.
After the 90th minute, the match went to extra-time, the Black Stars bent on making history were awarded a penalty in the 120th minute after Luis Suarez handled a goal-bound ball on the goal line, leading to his sending off from the game,?but Asamoah Gyan missed the penalty kick throwing the whole of Africa unto a state of shock and mourning.
The Black Stars had another chance to redeem themselves during the penalty shoot-out, but?painfully lost 2-4 and handed Uruguay a semi-final place. What a painful way to exit the WC after coming close to writing history as the first African Country to qualify for a WC semi-final and probably win a medal.
Yet another WC will present itself in Qatar in a few weeks, but most Ghanaians believe the Black Stars have the ability to repeat that spirited performance shown at the SA 2010 WC that saw the team reach the quarter-final and nearly made it to the semis. But a section of football fans feel the team is not as formidable enough as that of 2010.
After that shambolic display in the recently held African Nations?Cup in Cameroon, where the team could only manage a point out of the three preliminary matches, seeing their elimination in the group stage with Morocco coming top with seven points, Gabon five and Comoros three.
Nonetheless, the team in their 2022 WC decider against the Super Eagles of Nigeria played a goalless draw game at the Kumasi Baba Yara Sports Stadium and managed a 1-1 draw in the return encounter at the Moshood K.O Abiola National Stadium, Abuja to eliminate the Super Eagles to become one of Africa’s five representatives in Qatar.
Ghana and four other African countries Senegal, Morocco, Cameroon and Tunisia would be flying the continent’s flag at the world’s most prestigious sporting event later in the year in Qatar.
The Black Stars after booking the WC ticket tested their strength?in an African Cup of?Nations qualification where they drew one all with the Central African Republic at the Estadio 11 de Novembro and participated in the Kirin Cup organised by the Japanese football body and lost 1-4 to Japan in the semi-finals but went on to beat Chile 3-1 on penalties in the third place match to redeem?their image.
Ghana at the 2022 WC in Qatar is drawn in Group H alongside with European giants Portugal, South American?giants Uruguay and Asian giants South Korea. The Black Stars would be hoping to have sweet revenge over their Uruguayan counterparts after that painful defeat handed over to the team in the quarter-finals of the 2010 WC in SA.
Nationality switch by foreign-based Ghanaian players?
The Black Stars after the WC qualification have seen some foreign-based Ghanaian players switching nationality which is a good?booster for the country and particularly the Black Stars technical handlers who are keen in getting a formidable squad to participate in the football tournament at the world stage.
Notable among the foreign-based players who have switched nationality are striker Inaki Williams, playing for the La liga Santander’s Athletico Bilbao in Spain, Tariq Lamptey of Brighton and Hove Albion in the English Premiership, Stephan Ambrosius of FC St. Pauli, in the German Bundesliga Two, Patric Pfeiffer of SV Darmstadt 98, Gernman Bundesliga Two and? Ransford-Yeboah Konigsdorffer of Dynamo Dresden in the German Bundesliga Three and other players such as of EPL’s Southampton Mohammed Salisu available for selection,
The Ghana Football Association had put in much effort to ensure that these players don the national colours while opening its door for other players to consider switching their nationalities ahead of the WC.
The Black Star as part of their preparation towards the global?showpiece, played an international friendly match on Friday, September 23 against the Brazilian national team and lost?3-0.
In their second friendly match against Nicaragua on Tuesday, September 27 , the Black Stars managed a slim?one goal victory against one of the? minnows in world football and the performance has caused a stir among the football fraternity in the country and raised concerns about how prepared the Black Stars are ahead of the WC.
Ghana’s group opponents during the international break were also busy with Portugal playing in the European nation’s league, beating the Czech Republic 4-0 and losing 0-1 to Spain.
The Uruguayans on the other hand lost 1-0 to Iran and won 2-0 against Canada, while South Korea drew two-all against Costa Rica and further beat the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon by a lone goal.
In view of the might of the Black Stars’ opponents, the team’s next international friendly game with? would play the Rossocrociati (Red Crosses), the Switzerland’s senior national team on Thursday, November 17 in their final preparation match before heading to the global showpiece in Qatar.
But many football fans connoisseurs are questioning how prepared the Stars are for the WC because no team in group H is a walkover considering their experience and pedigree?in world football.
For Ghana to make an impact at the global showpiece, the team ought to show a glimpse?of its SA 2010 WC performance or out-do what their predecessors did in that particular WC to write its name boldly in the annals of world football because?an opportunity has once again availed itself and the team must build on the foundations laid by their precursors to excel in Qatar.
By Benjamin Akoto
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