The Black Stars will today be on the ‘war-path’ against Portugal, a team whose invisibility is in doubt when the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, is not in the team.
The Stars, led by Asamoah Gyan, have assured their teeming fans that in spite of their lacklustre showing at the World Cup so far, with a loss and a draw, they will shock Portugal, who will be inspired by a half-fit Ronaldo.
At normal strength, Ronaldo is a daredevil who must be watched in competitive tournaments like the one currently underway in Brazil. But so far he has not proved to be a threat to opponents at the tournament.
Many fans back home never gave the Stars a dog’s chance of qualifying for the World Cup, and even when they did, some people thought it was sheer luck.
Preparations towards the World Cup were ducked by controversies, including who should make the final 23 to Brazil and whether or not there must be foreign technical support for Coach Kwesi Appiah.
Despite the initial hiccups to psyche up the Black Stars and the initial concerns raised over bonuses, as well as the number of supporters to be flown to Brazil and who will provide the funding, Ghana joined the 32 elite football nations to begin the 2014 Mundial on June 12, 2014.
Our performances in Brazil have been anything but satisfactory, especially our first match against the USA. But for our colourful showing against Germany last Saturday, there was little hope of Ghana making it to the next stage of the tournament.
When Portugal also managed a draw against the USA, Ghanaian fans heaved a sigh of relief and expressed the hope that all was not lost yet, as we can hold Portugal effectively and even carry the day in a possible goal harvest to be among the best 16 at the World Cup.
However, just when the confidence level of the supporters started soaring, presto, the media boomed with the news that there was player agitation over the delayed payment of appearance fees for the Black Stars.
For the President of the Republic himself to intervene to calm nerves meant that the situation in camp was looking quite chaotic.
The Black Stars should be told that many ordinary Ghanaians who cannot make ends meet are still prepared to sacrifice to enable the state to provide them with the incentives to put in their best.
The fans were waiting for the final whistle last Saturday to take over the streets in wild jubilation but that was cut short by the Germans’ equaliser.
That is why the Daily Graphic thinks the Black Stars should stop making extra demands on the country at these trying times when ordinary people are being asked to sacrifice by tightening their belts.
The mood of the nation last Wednesday when information became public that the government was ‘flying’ $3 million to the Black Stars to pay for their appearance fees was not pleasant at all, with some fans saying that the players were not prepared to bear part of the nation’s present burden.
Be that as it may, we still have a corps of die-hard supporters who are praying for the Black Stars in the hope that they can carry the day against Portugal to qualify for the next stage of the competition.
We know Ghanaians are very religious. They will go on their knees to seek the face of God in our encounter with Portugal.
But as we demonstrate some level of frustration at the attitude of the national team but put our faith in God to take us through, the Daily Graphic reminds the players to focus on the game and work extra hard to beat Portugal convincingly.
We wish the Black Stars well and salute them for holding the flag of Ghana aloft on the world stage, albeit with a not-too-impressive performance at Brazil 2014.