Ghana’s senior soccer team, the Blacks Stars, are playing their Nigerian counterparts, the Green Eagles, in an epic Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier today, and the whole country is optimistic of nothing but victory.
To provide context, the two teams are arch-rivals, which makes this play-off double-header a more interesting one to look forward to. The winner over the two legs will earn one of Africa’s five slots to the 22nd FIFA World Cup finals scheduled for Qatar from November 14 to December 18, this year.
The two West African giants have come against each other on 56 occasions, with the Black Stars earning more victories. In the 56 meetings, Ghana has triumphed over Nigeria 22 times, while Nigeria has only managed 17 wins.
In the run-up to today’s match, some Ghanaians have expressed scepticism, and justifiably so, because preparations for the match have not been the best and left much to be desired.
Again, the match is coming on the heels of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 fiasco, where the Black Stars performed abysmally, exiting in the first round, our worst in decades.
The truth of the matter is that the pessimism is rife because the names of the squad were kept as a secret for so long and only released a few days to the match, reinforcing perception that the preparation has not been the best.
There has also been the issue of moving the match venue from the Cape Coast Stadium to Baba Yara in Kumasi due of the poor nature of the pitch in Cape Coast which did not meet international standards.
Thankfully, reports from officialdom and the playing body point to a great deal of optimism about victory in the match. Our Minister of Youth and Sports, Mustapha Ussif, is upbeat, assuring the nation that the Black Stars will qualify to the World Cup 2022 in Qatar and even get to the semi-finals of the upcoming mundial.
He has further given assurance that all the money needed for the campaign has been made available.
Similar sentiments are coming from the leadership of the Ghana Football Association, the playing body and the technical team.
Indeed, many soccer fans have also opined that the selection of players for the team was, this time around, well thought-out, and that the right players have earned the call-up.
In spite of everything, we at the Daily Graphic have great faith, confidence and hope in our team to come out victorious. We are very much assured of the declaration by the Stars’ Captain, Dede Ayew, when we drew with Gabon at the AFCON, that: “We are Ghana; we are going to win the last game and go through.”
It is said that a house that is divided against itself cannot stand, and perhaps the lack of absolute support from all Ghanaians has played a role in affecting the psyche of the team.
At this moment, the nation must stand together behind Team Ghana, because at the end of the day, the players need the prayers of all, not curses, as they battle under the national flag.
While we urge all Ghanaians to support the team to shine tonight, the Daily Graphic would also like to reiterate the inspiring words of a former Deputy General Secretary of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Tony Baffoe: “The Black Stars are the only team we have and they carry the spirit of the nation. We all have to support them to excel.”
Baffoe also told the Black Stars: “When you step out on the pitch, you must sweat for the flag, sweat for the shirt, sweat for yourselves and your families and, indeed, the entire nation.
“We are Ghana, the Black Stars, the shining star, and you have to prove that no matter what, the star always shines.”
The Daily Graphic wishes to remind the Stars that their performance affects the mood of the nation and so we urge them to positively rev up the mood of the nation.
Go Black Stars, Go!