Black Stars Revive The National Spirit …6-1 Massacre Eases The Economic Pain
It will take a miracle to stop the famed Black Stars of Ghana from booking a third successive date with the elites of the global game in Brazil next year. After bringing the Pharaohs of Egypt tumbling down heavily at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi with five clear goals to spare, connoisseurs of the game are already looking forward to another splendid performance from the men from the centre of the earth, when the 2014 World Cup begins in June next year.
One mischief-maker suggested that with this humiliation of the Pharaohs, the great pyramids of Egypt have come tumbling. That may be an exaggeration, but the fall in Kumasi has its symbolism in the total eclipse of Egypt by the Black Stars. The victory was so comprehensive that the Egyptians have all but thrown in the towel. According to state-run Daily Graphic, capturing a report on the authoritative Al-Ahram Newspaper of Cairo, the World Cup dream of the Pharaohs is virtually over after the Kumasi massacre.
‘An error-ridden Egypt were battered 6-1, outmuscled by Ghana in the first leg of the World Cup play-off tie on Tuesday , in an unprecedented humiliating result that saw the Pharaoh’s long held World Cup qualification hopes, all but dashed,’ Al-Ahram reported. ‘The loss is the biggest in the head to head record of the two teams, and one of the worst in Egypt’s history.’ When Al-Ahram says so, who are we to challenge the assertion?
In Kumasi, seat of the Golden Stool, the conquest of Egypt, with a 6-1 thriller, was celebrated throughout the night. Various joints in the Garden City were filled with jubilant Ghanaians dancing and drinking their way into the wee hours of yesterday morning. It was a total demolition job. To think that the opponents in this 6-1 thrashing were the Pharaohs of Egypt, as seven times champions of Africa, certainly the most decorated national team in the whole continent of Africa, tells the complete story of the competence of the Black Stars on Tuesday .
I have been covering competitive sports and writing about the Black Stars since 1974. I can state on authority that this is the most comprehensive job ever done by the national team of Ghana on the way to the World Cup. Commenting on the national team’s performance, Mr. Yaw Oppong, an Accra-based lawyer, told TV3 yesterday that the fact that the Black Stars performed under a local coach makes the victory more satisfying. ‘We did that with our own coach,’ saying that the 6-1 massacre kicks the one-goal project under various Serbian coaches to touch.
Naturally, yesterday morning media reviews on radio and television were dominated by pundits showering praises on the Black Stars and their technical handlers. My classmate Kwesi Pratt, usually animated by political discussions than sports, was over the moon. The Editor of the Insight Newspaper and Nana Akomeah, immediate past Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party, who usually have problems with each other’s submission on politics, sounded a cordial note yesterday.
They were unanimous in their assertions that assigning the role of directing the technical build-up to Kwasi Appiah, an indigenous Ghanaian, who featured for the Black Stars himself, has yielded dividends. The team is more cohesive, and the players seem to be enjoying themselves.
They went on to suggest that apart from making the face of the technical team purely Ghanaian, there is the need to let the Black Stars’ jerseys, and even the way the players celebrate goals, to
reflect on the distinctive aspiration of brand Ghana. The match itself was a total exhibition of what Ghana football is all about – fluency and entertainment with the purpose of hurting the opponent. It was clear that the blend of youthful exuberance with rich experience had paid dividends.
Michael Essien showed why he is a global star, linking the defence with the attack with supreme confidence. The second goal bore all the hallmarks of the Chelsea midfielder. He went on one of his usual surging runs, virtually running through the Egyptian defensive pair of Hosam Ghally and Mohammed Naguib, and forcing aging defender Gomaa to slot the ball past Sherif Ekramy in the post for the visitors.
Before the game, the main worry of many Ghanaians, including the technical team, was the absence of four key defenders through injuries and suspensions. But, Essien, Sulley Muntari, Kwadwo Asamoah, and Dede Ayew in the midfield, so controlled affairs that the Ghanaian defence was under very little pressure. Youthful Samuel Inkoom, Daniel Opare, Rasheed Sumaila and Jerry Akaminko ably protected Fatau Dauda, to the extent that the Ghanaian goalkeeper was virtually on holiday. The only goal the Ghanaian conceded, an expertly taken penalty by veteran Mohammed Aboutrika, could not be blamed on any Ghanaian player. The foul committed by Rashhed Sumaila was a 50-50 affair. There are many referees in this world who would have ignored the little push.
The striking pair of skipper Asamoah Gyan and Abdul Majeed-Warris kept the Egyptian goal-mouth boiling throughout the ninety minutes. In the first 10 minutes especially, the Black Stars could have been up by three goals. Such was the pressure on the Egyptian defence that the visitors were forced into many errors. As the game wore on, and with skipper Asamoah Gyan limping from an injury, and Sulley Muntari tiring after surging runs throughout the game, coach Kwasi Appiah brought on Wakaso Mubarak and Emmanuel Agyemang Badu to replace the two veterans.
Dede Ayew was also pulled off to make way for Christian Atsu, the young dribbling magician, receiving universal acclaim as a Lionel Messi type of player. Atsu mesmerised the Pharaohs’ defence with surging runs with the ball glued to his feet, crowning an afternoon of a great performance with a great goal two minutes to full time. The inclusion of Agyeman Badu, with his long shots and inter-positional play at a time the Egyptian defenders were tiring, helped to keep the Pharaohs’ goalmouth boiling.
One thing worth noting in the game was the decision by skipper Asamoah Gyan to stick to his decision not to avail himself the opportunity to convert penalty kicks. On Tuesday , the role of a penalty taker was taken by Sulley Muntari, who expertly converted the only such award given to the Black Stars.
Asamoah Gyan’s two expertly taken goals put him up there among great Ghanaian goal scorers like late Edward Acquah, the man with the sputnik shot, and Powerhouse Kwasi Owusu. Apart from the 6-1 drubbing, which has all but guaranteed the Black Stars appearance at the 2014 World Cup, the tactics deployed by Kwasi Appiah, particularly by playing two strikers, tells the story that the Black Stars are back to their natural selves.
The one-goal project was laborious. It is refreshing that the national team played with enthusiasm on Tuesday . With this kind of performance, the world of football would stand and stare. For those of us at the centre of the earth, our prayer is that the Black Stars continue to cheer the nation in the midst of our economic and political difficulties. I dare state that in the encircling gloom, football, and precisely the Black Stars, are our only hope!
Ayew out-muscles an Egyptian player
These fans put their lives at risk as they celebrate Ghana’s win
Asamoah Gyan scored a brace
Ghanaian supporters cheer the stars
Ghanaians take over the streets to jubilate
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