After surprising many skeptics, the Black Stars ended their fairly good run at the World Cup by losing to Uruguay on penalties. The defeat broke many Ghanaian (and African) hearts. I really pity all those who put all their emotions into supporting the Black Stars, expecting them to win the World Cup.
I really felt very sorry for all those who were oozing with disappointment, some crying like babies, after the match. They should have known better.
You see, winning the World Cup takes more than skillful play and good luck (and the Black Stars had a lot of that). With the Black Stars’ elimination, which came a little too late in the tournament for comfort, there is going to be a lot of talk about why they flattered to deceive. Forget about strategies and formations. Here is my take.
1. God decided to spare the Ghanaian taxpayer a needless expense
Ours is a poor country and God is our compatriot. He knows how most of us struggle to pay our taxes and He doesn’t like the way our government squanders national revenue on footballers. Why on earth should we pay each player seven thousand dollars for winning a game, when most of our teachers earn less than that amount in a year? God in his bountiful wisdom, therefore, decided to spare us the needless expense of showering good money on a bunch of average players who provided the nation a temporary high.The further the progressed, the more money we would have wasted.
2. Other African countries brought ill-luck
The Black Stars were doing quite well – with a lot of luck on their side – until the whole of Africa decided to support them. If the Ivorians, Algerians, Nigerians and Camerounians had half the luck the Ghanaians had, they wouldn’t have been eliminated in the first round. Take the South Africans for example. They won one game, lost one and drew one in the group stages – just like the Black Stars. Yet, they were eliminated because luck was not on their side.
When the citizens of an unlucky country like South Africa, not to mention those of countries which have never even dreamt of playing in a world cup, throw their weight behind a lucky squad, disaster strikes. And that’s what happened on Friday.
Ill-luck also means too much expectation. The Black Stars often find it hard to meet the expectations of 23 million Ghanaians. Add the hopes of 500 million Africans and their legs get so heavy that they can’t even score from penalty kicks.
3. Players were thinking about lunch with Mandela
Nelson Mandela is a legend. He is one of the greatest human beings God ever created. I think he’s a god. Everyone wants to meet with him. Before him, even footballers with over-bloated egos are reduced to stuttering non-entities.
So when Nelson Mandela invites you for lunch, it fills you with a sense of achievement that outweighs the desire to win the World Cup. I love Nelson Mandela. But I think his offer to lunch with the Black Stars came a little too early and made it very difficult for them to focus on winning the game against the Uruguay.
4. The one-goal project
The Black Stars don’t like to score more than one goal in a game. Some think it’s a jinx. But it’s not. It’s called the one-goal project and most of the die-hard supporters of the team believe that it’s a bad omen for the squad to score more than a goal in a game.
So the team was content with the single goal in open play against Uruguay. When Diego Forlan equalized with that magnificent free-kick, the players were not so sure whether to stick to the one-goal project or score more. In the end, they decided to live up to the reputation. That’s why they squandered all those chances – including the penalty.
5. Most of the supporters were sent home
Government officials told us that the Black Stars were playing well in the World Cup because of the Mills administratin’s very ‘wise’ decision to sponsor hundreds of supporters (mostly NDC footsoldiers) to cheer on the team. Most Ghanaians didn’t buy that sort of crap. So, to prove to us that they were right, government decided to bring the supporters home. And the Black Stars lost. Next time, we will think twice before challenging government policy.
6. President Mills was not in the stadium
President Mills should take some of the blame for the Black Stars’ failure to make history. He chose to go to Cape Verde hobnob with other African leaders instead of going to South Africa to pray with the squad for victory – as he did in previous games. He had shown that his anointed presence brings victory to the squad, which also seems to play better when the president has his watchful eyes on them.
He was watching when the Black Stars beat Serbia. In his absence, they drew with Australia and lost to Germany. When he showed up to watch them play against the US, they won – by breaking the tenets of the one-goal project. That means they would do anything to win if the president is watching.
7. Ato Kwamena Dadzie (and his ilk) predicted a win
The Black Stars tend to play their hearts out when they need to prove the Doubting Thomases wrong. When this lot predicts that they will lose, they go all out to win. Conversely, when the prediction is that they would win, they play to lose.