I wish to congratulate the Black Stars for qualifying for next year’s World Cup in South Africa. Most importantly, I also want to congratulate the President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantekyi, for leading the team to two successful World Cup appearances.
Somehow, that man makes me think this country needs some sort of youthful revolution which will usher in the rule of the under 50s. Nyantekyi is under 40. Yet he has accomplished what old hags like Nyaho Tamakloe, MND Jawula, Brew-Butler and Ben Coffie could only dream of.
This has been Ghana’s easiest World Cup qualification campaign ever and I think much of the credit should go to Nyantekyi and his team at the FA, who seem to always know what they want and go all out to get. They may not always get it right. If they did they wouldn’t be human.
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As we commend Nyantekyi and his team for the unprecedented success they have achieved, I think it’s important to sound a few words of caution against the monster called complacency. Qualifying for the World Cup is like winning a battle. There is a bigger war to be fought – in South Africa. Being the first African country to qualify for the World Cup doesn’t make the Black Stars champions. So let’s not pretend they are.
The team hasn’t won any trophy in almost 30 years. It has lost all its accolades. It cannot even claim to be the “first team to win the African Cup of Nations four times.” That record has long been broken and in the world of football, Ghanaians have absolutely nothing to be proud of. Qualifying for two successive World Cup appearances doesn’t earn the country any bragging rights because others did it before us and when they went they did better.
It’s high time the Black Stars gave Ghanaians something to boast of. How about making Ghana the first African country to win the World Cup? That’s going to be hard. I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. But it’s worth a try. And what about winning the African Cup of Nations again – for the first time in almost 30 years? That’s not as high an ambition as winning the World Cup. It’s not entirely out of our reach.
Let’s not just be content with qualifying. Let’s even stop making noise about being the first African country to make it. That’s nothing to be happy about. Going there and making an impact – that is being in the top three at least – is what we should aim at.
The last time the Black Stars went to the World Cup we made such a big fuss about the fact that they were the only African country that made it to the round of 16. When they came back, they were each given national medals. They were honoured for being among last. What’s the pride in being counted among the losers? That shouldn’t happen again.
Qualifying for the World Cup is good. But it’s not good enough. We should demand of the team that they end their 30-year trophy-less run next year – either in South Africa (at the World) or Angola (at the African Cup of Nations). That’s the task before Nyantekyi and his team. If they are as ambitious as I think, they will halt the jubilation over the World Cup qualification and focus on winning some silverware. The Black Stars need to be champions again. We’ve waited for far too long. Otherwise, what’s the point in qualifying? If we just qualified for qualifying sake, then there isn’t much difference – really – between Nyantekyi and Ben Coffie.