It was their best performance in the tournament. Yet it was the performance that ended the incredible journey of a youthful, inexperienced Black Stars squad that had been written off by so many.
Having forced me to eat humble pie on more than one occasion over the past three weeks, I guess I should be saying that I am entitled to the last laugh because my prediction that they won’t win the cup came true. But I am not laughing.
This is not a team that should be laughed at for losing. Getting to the finals of AFCON 2010, the first time Ghana has made it this far in 18 years, is no mean feat. That it came from a team many expected so little from is an achievement worth celebrating.
At the very least, they restored my hope in the Black Stars. I lost all faith in the senior national team in 1994 after infighting culminated in their disgraceful exit from the Cup of Nations in Tunisia. They didn’t disgrace themselves (and the nation) as many had expected and for that they can go around with their heads held high.
This Black Stars squad has also proved a very important point that big names do not necessarily make a great team. That’s why the team made it to the finals of ACFON for the first time in 18 years with unknown and inexperienced players. They’ve vindicated my position that the Black Stars are better off without the likes of Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari.
Finally, this Black Stars squad has provided many Ghanaians with an inspirational story that any group of individuals can get to the heights they aspire even when they’ve been written off by everyone else. The morale here is pretty simple: it’s bad enough to be written off. What’s worse, though, is for you to write yourself off. The Black Stars, I think, came this far because they refused to write themselves off. By believing in themselves, they made the nation proud and put smiles on millions of faces. Even those faces which frowned at the coach’s decision to field such an inexperienced squad have been lit up.
It’s been an amazing two weeks for the like of Kwadwo Asamoah, Andre Ayew and Anthony Annan. Their achievements in Angola (more than the performance of the likes of Essien in Germany in 2006) should restore Ghana to its position as a football powerhouse in Africa. If our football administrators are wise enough to keep this squad together, I am optimistic that they will create some big waves at the World Cup in South Africa – and wherever they play in the future.
For all of these reasons, I have little choice than to put all my pessimism and start from now on to start rooting for the Black Stars again. And, truly, it feels very good.