PARLIAMENT is rallying national support for the senior national team, the Black Stars, as they attempt to annex the coveted African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2019) trophy for a fifth time at the 32nd edition of the competition underway in Egypt.
In the view of the House, the 23-man playing body and the technical team needs the support of the citizenry if Ghana was to be crowned African champions for the first since 1982.
Ghana, four times African champions, would be opening its campaign at the continental soccer fiesta on Tuesday when they take on West African neighbours, Benin, before locking horns with Cameroon and Gunea Bissau on June 29 and July 2 respectively.
The expanded continental championship with 24 teams is the first to be held in June at the close of the major European football season and is expected to be keenly contested.
In a statement on the floor of the House yesterday, the Vice Chair on the Youth, Sports and Culture Committee, Kojo Asemanyi, said Ghana could only end its 37 years trophy drought if the team received the needed support from the people.
“Mr Speaker, never in our football history have we experienced series of heartbreaks than the period between 2008 and 2017” when the country reached the semis in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017 with two unsuccessful finals in 2010 and 2015, he noted.
These disappointments, Mr Asemanyi, Member of Parliament (MP), Gomoa East, said has led to dying interest in the team but “if the Black Stars are going to make any meaningful impact in Egypt, it will immensely depend on the support we will give them.”
Commenting on the statement, Mahama Ayariga, a former Sports Minister, under whose watch the team reached the finals in 2015, said contrary to questions about the commitment of the players, “the boys are committed to the core.”
Recounting how Ghana narrowly and painfully missed out on that final to its a Western neighbours, Côte d’Ivoire, Mr Ayariga, Bawku Central MP, said it was time the citizenry discarded the teams’ ‘sins of the past’ and rally behind them to bring the trophy home.
Effutu MP, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, whiles calling for national support for the team cautioned the players against personal ambitions and interests at the tournament and play as a unit if they were to make any inroads.
He said football, a key selling point of Ghana, was the rallying point of the country and that politics should be done away with in the affairs of the team so that they could win the trophy for the country.
The First Deputy Minority Whip and Banda MP, Ahmed Ibrahim, said whiles soccer continue to be the passion and pride of the nation, it was important the local football was developed to give the any talents the opportunity to realize their dreams of becoming professional footballers.
Mr Matthew Nyindam, MP, Kpandai, and Majority Deputy Whip, urged the management of the team to thoroughly address the issue of compensation of the players to avoid any form of player revolt at the tournament.
Meanwhile Mr Emmanuel Kofi Armah Buah, MP for Ellembelle, has urged the Egyptian authorities to ‘up’ their security in the wake of a threat issued by the Muslim Brotherhood following the death of former Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi, on Monday.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI
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