What fate awaits the Black Stars at CAN 2008?
A GNA feature by Stephen Asante
Kumasi, Feb 28, GNA – One significant feature about the
British colonial rule over Ghana was the introduction of
football into the country that has now become a passion of
the independent nation.
Even though there is still controversy about the particular
location in which the sport was introduced into the country,
statistics made available to the GNA Sports by the Ghana
Football Association (GFA) indicates that the sport was not
all that popular until the early 1900s when many residents
of the then Gold Coast started patronizing the sport.
The early parts of the 20th century saw the formation of
football Clubs like Accra Hearts of Oak, Kumasi Asante
Kotoko, Kumasi Cornerstone, Cape Coast Mysterious Dwarfs,
Sekondi Eleven Wise, Dynamos, Sekondi Hasaacas, Accra great
Olympics, Venomous Vipers, Brong Ahafo United, Gbewa United
and Savanna Stars among others who engaged themselves in
league matches and other competitive games under the then
Amateur Football Association.
These matches, according to the GFA were designed primarily
to whip up the interest of the sport among the citizenry
across the length and breadth of the country.
However, soon after Ghana gained independence in 1957 and
most especially in the early 60s, football became the most
popular sporting activity in the country as a result of the
comprehensive measures and interest shown by Dr Kwame
Nkrumah, the then President by instituting measures to
accelerate the development of the sport in the country.
In the words of Joe De-Graft, a former player of the senior
national team, the Black Stars, “Dr Nkrumah was so keen
about the game and the prospects it had in advancing the
noble cause of the nation that he worked in close
collaboration with the late Ohene Djan, the then Director of
Sports as well as football administrators to develop the
sport to an appreciable level”.
De-Graft, 70, and a member of the 1963 Black Stars’ squad
that won the nation’s first African Cup of Nations (CAN)
competition, told the GNA Sports that, “Morale in camp was
always very high as the President gave us all the motivation
we needed to boost our performance and confidence”.
Other players who also contributed to the Stars’ first
Nation’s Cup triumph under the guidance of coach Joseph
Ember include the late Baba Yara, Addo Odamtten, Dodoo
Ankrah, Wilberforce Mfum, Ben Acheampong, Aggrey Fynn and
Dogo Moro among others.
It must be noted that aside 1963 history repeating itself
two years later when the Stars successfully defended the Cup
they won on their home soil with another triumph in far away
Tunisia, as they made it as the second national team after
the Pharaoh’s of Egypt to have won the Nation’s Cup for two
There were also successes for the national team in 1978 and
82 when the Black Stars annexed the Nation’s Cup in Ghana
and Libya respectively to become the first nation on the
African continent to have won the Cup in four occasions.
Surprisingly, since 1982 to date the national team has
virtually gone to ‘sleep’ as it had tried in vain to win the
Cup and thus regain its enviable status in African football.
The last time Ghana came close to winning the Cup was in
1992 when the Black Stars lost the final match to the
Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in a tournament hosted in
Football analysts have attributed Ghana’s inconsistency at
the Nation’s Cup tournament to poor preparation, apathy
towards the senior national team by players and
administrators, lapses in football administration and
frequent changes in coaches and players and non-commitment.
Due to poor preparation, for instance, the national team
between 1984 and 92 failed to qualify for the Nation’s Cup
whilst in cases where they qualified their performance was
nothing to write home about.
It is worth noting that the performance of the team at a
point in time degenerated so much that many Ghanaians were
compelled to lose enthusiasm and confidence for the Black
Perhaps it is now very obvious that the days when the nation
prided itself as having won the Nation’s Cup on four
occasions are over as that record has been equaled by
Cameroon with victories coming their way in 1984, 1988, 2000
and 2002, whiles Egypt is now on record to have won the most
Cups – five times, with victories coming their way in 1957,
59, 86, 98 and 2006.
The African Nations Cup is without doubt the greatest
sporting spectacle on the continent that has gradually come
It is against this backdrop that stakeholders in Ghana
football should embark on a collaborative and conscious
effort aimed at enabling the Black Stars to win its fifth
Cup now that the nation has won the bid to host the Ghana
Undoubtedly the 26th edition of the Nations Cup which would
be held in the early part of next year in four match venues
have come at a time when the national team are enjoying some
sort of consistency following their exploits at last year’s
World Cup Championship held in Germany.
Due to the prudent and pragmatic measures instituted by the
present administration, the Black Stars has seen a
tremendous improvement in its performance as was manifested
in the latest world football governing body, FIFA’s rankings
which has placed Ghana in the third position in the African
rankings and 22nd in the world rankings.
In skipper Stephen Appiah, midfield dynamo Michael Essien,
John Mensah, Asamoah Gyan, Shilla Illiasu, Sule Ali Muntari,
Junior Agogo and the Kingston brothers, the nation seem to
have the crop of players capable of restoring to the nation
its rightful place in African football and the world in
There is however the need for us as a nation to go beyond
the gains made so far and look forward to putting in place a
sustained development plan that would ensure total sanity in
football administration in the country at both the local and
There must be a serious campaign against illegal sale of
players, superstition, bribery, hooliganism, player
indiscipline and poor remuneration for players while serious
consideration must be given to the upgrading of sports
fields and construction of stadiums in all regional capitals
as started by the Acheampong regime to help improve the
performance of our players.
Football administrators and team managers should resolve to
work in collaboration with corporate bodies to inject the
necessary investment into their respective Clubs so that
players’ remuneration are enhanced with the view to
retaining good players on the local scene for a longer
period of time for the long-term benefit of the Black Stars.
History had proven that the national team always performs
better at competitions whenever it has a blend of foreign
and locally based players.
For example at the Senegal CAN ‘92, the Black Stars was
adjudged to have played one of the finest games throughout
the tournament as the team had a good blend of players with
the likes of skipper Abedi Pele, Tony Yeboah, Prince Opoku,
Ali Ibrahim and Odartey Lamptey, who were all foreign-based
players alongside with local players like Emmanuel Ampiah,
Emmanuel Armah, Edward Ansah, Stanley Aboraa and
Frimpong-Manso among others.
Again, the inclusion of Shilla Illiasu, Habib Mohammed and
Issah Ahmed, all then local players in the Stars’ squad that
participated in last year’s World Cup Championship proved
timely and fruitful as they helped in tightening Ghana’s
In view of the fact that football has become a big marketing
commodity and powerful tool that has the potential to
generate employment, create wealth and also promote peace,
there is the need for the GFA to step up its efforts geared
towards enabling the national team to translate its
consistent performance into the CAN 2008.
In an interview with the GNA Sports in Kumasi recently,
Anthony K. Adusei, a member of the technical team of the
Stars’ squad that won silver in the Nations Cup in Senegal
in 1992, identified complacency as the main factor that
could affect the team’s bid to annex its fifth Cup if the
players are not properly psyched up.
“The Stars should ensure that their exploits at the World
Cup championship in Germany and the string of successes they
are chalking in friendly matches do not get into their heads
since the African Cup of Nations tournament is a different
ball game altogether”, he said.
One of the pillars upon which the FA intends to reconstruct
Ghana football includes building a robust,
marketing-oriented and top quality brand of our own
CAN 2008 therefore presents a fine opportunity and platform
for the realization of this dream if we set our priorities
Indeed, the Black Stars have come a long way in its quest to
win its fifth Nations Cup and now that Ghana is celebrating
her 50th independence anniversary there could not have been
a more appropriate time for the Stars to break the
25-year-old jinx than the CAN 2008 when the team takes on
some of Africa’s football powerhouses under the very eyes of
their numerous passionate home supporters.