The Ghanaian national football team, the ‘Black Stars’ are as well known for their exciting dancing celebrations after scoring as for their pulsating brand of football but yesterday evening in Brazil, both aspects were lacking, evidenced best by the lack of any celebration whatsoever when Asamoah Gyan scored his record-breaking equalizing goal, as the Black Stars went out of the World Cup with heads bowed after earlier promising so much.
Following their exploits at the last two world cups where they reached the second round in 2006 and were seconds away from a semi-final berth before being stopped crudely by a handball by Luis Suarez in 2010, the Black Stars were seen as the team – alongside the Ivory Coast – to give Africa the best representation but they flattered to deceive and ultimately followed their West-African neighbours out of the competition in quick fashion.
A lack of concentration at the beginning and the end of their opening match to the USA cost them that match and left their hopes hanging on a precipice but a thrilling draw against the mighty Germany in a match they could and should have won restored hope of a good outing by the Ghanaians. In the end, the Ghanaians pressed the self-destruct button ensuring that they arrived for the Portugal match already psychologically beaten, after a row over bonuses with the Ghanaian government and infighting within the team’s camp which led to Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng being sent home early.
Prior to the match, a lot of Ghanaians were still upbeat about their chances against a weak Portugal side, thinking that the off-field issues had been resolved but their minds were clearly not settled. Known for their passionate displays, the Black Stars put in an uninspiring and tepid display, which resulted in so many errors that if not for the wastefulness of Cristiano Ronaldo in particular, the scoreline would have been disastrous. After a series of comical defending, John Boye finally scored an own goal to give Portugal the advantage in the first half. Needless to say, Boye looked very likely to score more own goals. It was that bad.
After the halftime break, Ghana rallied and put together a decent spell which saw them equalize through Asamoah Gyan who became the highest African score at World Cups with 6 goals. To sum up their afternoon though, Gyan who is known for his trademark dance-step goal celebration didn’t even celebrate the goal at all. It was such a day. Ghana was further boosted with news coming through that Germany had taken the lead against the USA, as a result, only needing one more goal to seal qualification to the second round and redemption for their failings but once again, they did themselves in. Mensah almost scored another own-goal with a header and goalkeeper, Fatawu Dauda stepped in to intervene but after having been one of the best Ghanaian players all match long feebly parried the ball straight at Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest is history.
In years to come, this World Cup would be remembered by Ghana as the one in which they embarrassed themselves on the world stage and deprived themselves of a good shot at glory. A campaign that looked so much promising just 5 days ago has ended in a whimper and the Ghanaians have only themselves to blame. What a shame.
Damilola Orehin is a freelance creative writer with interesting opinions and analysis of sports, entertainment and social issues. He has written on several established print and online platforms and he showcases his deep-rooted passion for a wide variety of sports at tecmosports.blogspot.com.
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