Can Ghana football see a major turnaround?
A fortnight ago ‘Football People’ converged in Tamale to retain the incumbent president of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Mr Kurt Edwin Simeon-Okraku, to serve another term.
He went unopposed after his challenger, George Afriyie, was disqualified under what pundicts have described as bizarre circumstances. Of the 120 delegates, he garnered 117 votes with two voting against him and one abstaining.
In his first term as president, Mr Okraku chalked up some successes. Paramount among them is how he succeeded in attracting numerous sponsors for the national teams.
Corporate giants such as Puma, MTN, Decathlon, Star Times, InterCity STC Coaches, Nasco and Melcom have partnered with the Black Stars, Black Queens and Black Princesses and provided the resources to facilitate their participations in many international competitions.
In that stead, Mr Okraku has partly addressed a major financial burden that bedevils the various national teams. His tenure has also seen the emergence of a formulated policy for women’s football. A policy document on how Ghana football should be played and an adoption of the style and way Ghanaian footballers play the game has also been introduced under his administration.
His administration has also set up a foundation to support the needs of former footballers and protect them after their careers.
Receding football in Ghana
However, on the field, it has not been too good for the administration of Mr Okraku. The Black Stars suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of lowly Comoros Island in an African Nations Cup (AFCON) last year. At the World Cup in Qatar, Ghana was booted out in the preliminary rounds after winning just a single match.
The Black Queens failed to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The Queens, who were the first senior national football team to venture into the World Cup, used to be regulars in thar competition.
The underage categories of the national football teams have not been spared. For the first time, the Black Maidens failed to qualify for the Under-17 World Cup in Morocco. The Black Princesses, despite qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup a record sixth time, have failed to make it past the first round.
The Black Meteors, the nation’s Under-23 team, have failed to qualify for the past two Olympics. Since 2017, under the reign of Mr Okraku, the Black Satellites have failed to qualify for the Under-20 World Cup.
Dwindling quality of Premier League
Although the low quality of football in the premier league started before the emergence of Mr Okraku, this bad phenomenon has worsened to unprecedented levels during his time. This has forbidden many a fan from coming to the various stadiums to support their clubs. The fans want to see good quality football, which is non-existent. The ripple effect is what has affected the various national teams.
Any turning point?
While it is absurd for one to suggest a turning point in this tangle of Ghana football in the immediate, on the evidence of no concrete proposition or formulae to forestall all the above, it is worth noting that Mr Okraku has stressed that he is all-embracing and ready to work with friends and foes alike.
In his victory speech, he called for unity and the readiness to listen to all forms of advice. This may sound well for Ghana football albeit in the interim.
The real challenge lies in mending ties with those he has wounded, hearing the hard truths from non-boot lickers and ensuring that Ghana football is once again on the highest pedestal not only locally but internationally.