Business in Ghana

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The Black Stars Of Africa Set To Shine In Brazil

Posted by Business in Ghana on June 4, 2014

By TP Magnus Ulzen

Ghana is the land of over 20 million unpaid football coaches and I confess, periodically I am one of them.

I have followed the Black Stars through the highs and lows of our football history since I was old enough to read the Daily Graphic and long before we had the benefit of television. Like many, I followed our team on radio, guided by the late Festus Addae and later, Joe Lartey.
What I can say of the Black Stars of old, who own our four continental titles, is that they had a winning attitude. They represented a republic that was unapologetically confident at that time in its history. They had a healthy respect for their opponents but entered every tournament to win.
Unfortunately, the first time Ghana qualified to play for the Jules Remit trophy in 1966 the Black Stars of old did not field a team because of the boycott of FIFA by Africa. This was because all of Africa played for 1 berth and then would have to play the highest ranked European loser. Today we have 5 spots against Europe’s 13, which still makes no sense.

The soccer dreams of three generations of Ghanaians have been rekindled steadily since our re-entry into the World Cup in 2006. (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/SportsArchive/artikel.php?ID=105899)

The ever burning flame of “Association Football” in Ghana which was born with Gold Coast Football Association in 1930, is white-hot as we enter our third consecutive “group of death” in the World Cup. Our national confidence is high because this is as talented a Black Star squad as we have seen in decades. In baseball, we would say this team has deep bullpen.

Watching the recent Netherlands – Ghana friendly caused me to gauge the attitude factor and I missed the Black Stars of old immediately as our defenders stood by like spectators and watched the Dutch put the ball in the net in the 4th minute, for what turned out to be the match winner. I missed Dogo Moro and Ben Acheampong instantly. It is a 90 minute game and as soon as the whistle goes there is no time to warm up. The battle is joined and the soccer gladiators should taste the opponent’s proverbial blood in their mouths.

Admittedly, this was not Coach Appiah’s A team but all the same, the winning attitude was absent in the first half. When a player suits up for the Black Stars, it is always a national call to duty and must be approached as such. The players must play with discipline for God and country for the full 90 minutes.
Our defenders have a habit of passing to each other in the 18 and not clearing the ball decisively and quickly enough. This is how we lost to Germany in South Africa in 2010.

We still do not use the full field to our advantage. This is an old problem, that leaves unmarked players waiting and begging too long for the ball; while those who have it at on the other flank, try to dribble their way through instead of crossing it to the other side of the field to potential goal scorers.

We must have the attitude that we are there to make history by winning the trophy, not to do better than we did previously. If we had this Black Stars of old attitude in 2010, we would have been in the semi-finals and the rest would have been history. We cannot compromise on tactical discipline.

This brings me to penalties. We should know who is taking spot kicks if it comes to that. At least 7 players should be confident, practiced and ready. We should be prepared if it comes to penalty kicks to decide a game, that the best goalkeeper at saving penalty kicks should be between the sticks for that segment. We should know all this going in.

This is a tournament of the very best and we have earned our place at the table. We have just as good a chance as any other team to win. We must respect our opponents but there should be no fear. We must believe in ourselves. We can do better than we have ever done.

The issue of corruption and match-fixing is true even at the highest level of the beautiful game, so we should not be looking to referees for fair treatment. Only ballistic goals can protect us from this scourge.
Finally, the team should relax by watching the championship games of C K Gyamfi’s Black Stars for the winning attitude. We owe them the trophy because back in the day, all of Africa played for just one berth and they prevailed.

“Ghana, Ghana osee yie! yie yie, Ghana oh………yie Ghana oh, yie yie!”

We wish Coach Appiah, the technical team, the players and GFA the very best in harvesting the fruits of the labour of their football ancestors.

T P Manus Ulzen is Professor of Psychiatric and Behavioral Medicine at the University of Alabama the author of ” Java Hill: An African Journey” – A historiography of Ghana.

tulzen@yahoo.com

6/4/2014

Sent from my iPhone

 

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