The day Ghana’s National Male Football Team, the Black Stars, head into a tournament, qualifying phase or a game without a scandal of some sort that will certainly be the time Ghana wins the World Cup.
Since its resurgence in the mid 2000’s, the Stars have been consistently hit by one controversy after another culminating in the disastrous campaign in Brazil three years ago.
At football’s biggest tournament, players threatened to boycott its final preliminary game against Portugal if they were not paid staggering amounts of money a country barely able to feed its populace can afford.
So footage of heavily guarded vehicles carrying $3 million being chauffeured to the Stars camp surfaced all over tabloids.
In recent times, the team has been on the right track to redeem its lost integrity among Ghanaians, particularly with the reappointment of Coach Kwesi Appiah who got sacked in the aftermath of the 2014 World Cup.
With Appiah’s second coming, perception about the team has shifted towards the good side since Appiah’s sack is widely viewed as a wrong one coupled with the detest for a foreign coach following Avram Grant’s ill advised shenanigans.
Throw in an almost entirely new technical team and new faces called up to the team, and the Black Stars are definitely on the good side of the populace for the first time in a while.
It also helps the team’s first opponent of Appiah’s second coming Ethiopia, is a relatively easy team to record a big win over. The remaining members of Ghana’s group for the 2019 African Nations Cup also fall in this category as Sierra Leone and Kenya are hardly tough teams to beat. But just like the failed trophy campaign at the recently ended AFCON, when everything looks to be heading the right way, something wrong destined to pop up, actually does and ruins everything. That time it was Razak Brimah’s unsavory words towards Ghanaians that caused the campaign to be flawed.
Ahead of the Ethiopia game, Sulley Muntari’s tirade on Ghana Football Association Spokesperson Saani Daara has completely enveloped the Stars preparations. Encouraging news trickled in from the Stars base in Kumasi where players and management have been interacting with fans in order to convince them to troop to the Baba Yara Stadium on Sunday to support them. In an offshoot of the racial incident Muntari suffered close to the end of the season, Daara’s presence around the team is sure to cause some level of consternation for the team as he inevitably draws a lot of negative attention to the Black Stars.
After being called a liar by Muntari, can people believe the words of the veteran Journalist following similar incidents where his credibility has been questioned in the past? On the back off the GFA’s strained relationship with fans and players, the new found fondness for the Black Stars will be put to the test at a time when all indications pointed to a situation where that matter won’t pop up. And there is also former Sports Minister Nii Lante Vanderpuye’s claim the Stars were paid $10,000 and not $5000 as was reported during this year’s AFCON. The reduction in bonuses was aimed at calming Ghanaians down who were angry at the team’s huge demands.
To the playing body, and earlier in the week reports surfaced of ongoing tension over who the team’s captaincy following Ntow Gyan’s shocking outburst. The former national star stated Ghana’s past problem of captaincy between Abedi Ayew and Tony Yeboah (with Kwesi Appiah in the mix) has resurfaced with Abedi’s son Andre reportedly in a tug of war with Asamoah Gyan over the armband. The elder Gyan went ahead to include Andre’s younger brother Jordan in the mixup by claiming the sons of the Maestro are “trouble makers”. It is true for a while there was palpable tension in the Stars camp over the captaincy issue with Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan throwing shades at each other through the media.
Conversely, that matter looked to have died down with the players in camp appearing genuinely together. With such revelations, expect the ambience not to be quite the same. In the lead up to what all Ghanaians expect to be a win for the nation with a cricket score line to boot, the Stars once again head into a game with unsavory reports on the playing and management bodies of the team. Kwesi Appiah’s unfinished business is about to continue but prior to his side kicking a ball, trouble has already began brewing in the background and could potentially hurt the ambitions of return manager Appiah.
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