More in this category
BY: Kwame Dwomoah-Agyemang
Two World Cup qualifying games, 4 points not a bad return for a manger making his return to the side. Ideally, one would think that should be great in any part of the world. Not in Ghana though. Having made it to the last three World Cups, the entire nation and the continent at large seem to have become accustomed to watching the Black Stars rub shoulders with the big boys. Fair to say that they have given their all anytime they have represented the continent.
The thought of missing out on a fourth successive World Cup at the start of qualifiers was very much a non-starter. Two drawn games against Uganda and Republic of Congo have all but ensured that only the greatest miracle on the planet would see the Stars through to Russia. Home games anywhere in the world serve as a massive platform to pick up as many points in qualification to any tournament. How we have conspired to blow away a massive four points is sickening to say the least. We have always been good with the Mathematics though and I have seen lots in the last 48 hours. Truth be told I honestly do not know how we are going to get as many points to get us over the line.
The Egyptians have nine points from their four games having won three out of the four games played including the home ties at the Borg Al Arab against Ghana and Uganda. Add the result against the Congolese and that to be honest might just serve as the catalyst for their qualification. A win for the North African side at home against Congo, which is more realistic than an illusion would almost see the Egyptians qualify for a first World Cup since 1990. Impossible things have happened in the sport over the years and I’m not in any way ruling out a Congolese win in Egypt. The Congolese though have been that poor bar their performance in Kumasi and it would take a performance of monumental proportions to deny the Egyptians a return to the promised land. Strangely no one is even talking up the chances of the Cranes who have a better point haul against the Stars going into Match day 5 in Kampala. Do these fellas realise how a result for Uganda in their final two games would lead to a first World Cup qualification?
On the evidence of their performances over the qualifiers, Uganda would put up a fight. Now here is the catch. A win for Cranes would see them on 10 points with a win for the Egyptians against the Congolese seeing them reap 12 points. The Congolese would have nothing to play for in that final home game with a result fetching the Cranes another three points to take them to 13 points. The Egyptians then would at least have to pick a point in Ghana to guarantee their qualification. On the other hand though, a win for the Egyptians and a win for Ghana in Kampala would see the Egyptians automatically qualify with 12 points with the game in Ghana only academic. It is that simple. Big question is why have we been that poor when it mattered most?
A look back at those two poor outings in Tamale and Kumasi clearly rocked the boat. It makes little or no sense to apportion blame for these gaffs. Just a little more importance to these games and we would have stood a huge chance of making the Russian dream. I have heard a lot of comments directed at key actors and the future of the team. For me the latter is key. I have seen a video of former skipper Stephen Appiah, these days the Technical Coordinator passionately give a team talk ahead of the game at Kintele. Now that was inspiring. I don’t know if that contributed to that sleek performance.
Gaffer Kwasi Appiah has said time and again since his return that he wants to build a competitive side for the near future. One that would infuse the talent of the older and experienced generation to the new kids on the block. On the evidence of what we saw on Tuesday, the younger generation are clearly the future if only the gaffer would deal with the phasing of the older generation tactfully and not emotionally. I insist Gyan is still key to the fortunes of the team for probably another two years. His plusses? He guarantees goals and has bags of experience. Andre Ayew is clearly burning out having been rushed back into action after injuries and pushing very hard to impress. On his day, he is still very important to the team. It is now up to the manager to get the right balance with his call ups and selection on match days.
Time would tell if we can just about gate crush the Russian party that realistically is a very long shot.
Thanks for reading this piece.
The writer is Kwame Dwomoh-Agyemang, Sports Editor at Class 91.3, Accra. You can reach on via twitter @DwomohKwame1 and on Facebook at Kwame Dwomoh. You can also reach him by phone on 0244-623166.