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Good luck Black Stars

BY: Daily Graphic
File photo
File photo

At this year's FIFA World Cup, Ghana's Black Stars are daring to be different. The team may not be considered among the favourites to perform well at the biggest tournament in football, but they look highly motivated to make their mark in Qatar, with the team’s arrival in Doha last Friday suggesting they are ready to compete.

The players and officials’ decision to wear Fugu, a traditional clothing from northern Ghana which represents strength, courage and leadership, instead of Western suits or Puma sportswear, did not only make them stand out from the norm but also send out a subtle message of intent.

Each player and official wore a sash promoting Ghana as a tourism destination and showcasing its rich culture, a move that seemed to have been well received by Ghanaians and also caught the attention of the Qatari media.

The Black Stars remain one of Ghana’s biggest brands, and at the World Cup they represent more than just a fine football team.

They are real ambassadors of the country, both on and off the field, and that realisation is not lost on the team or the Ghana Football Association (GFA), which is taking deliberate steps to ensure that the team put their best foot forward.

In the last two years, the GFA, led by Kurt Simeon Okraku, has been on a charm offensive to win back the love the Black Stars lost from the public following events that precipitated Ghana’s disgraceful showing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which portrayed the team as a group of players on whom the state lavished but who were motivated more by money than a sense of patriotism.

Eight years on, a new wind is blowing in the team, as there is unity of purpose among the players and the technical handlers, all focused on bigger goals than issues that have the potential to distract them from achieving their potential in Qatar.

It is also heartwarming to note that Ghanaians are warming up again to the national team, in response to the positive attitude being shown by the players who are looking like a side ready to put the past behind them to move forward.

A lot has changed about the Black Stars since they crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroun early in the year after an abysmal performance. Today, they are an improved side, with a new attitude and unity of purpose and managed by positive-looking Ghanaian technical handlers who are determined to get the best out of the promising young team.

In defeating Switzerland 2-0 in their last tune-up match in Abu Dhabi last Thursday, the Black Stars gave a lot of hope that the team had the potential to rise to the occasion at the World Cup, despite the lack of experience on the part of many of the young players.

Even without star performers such as Thomas Partey, Mohammed Kudus, Alexander Djiku and others, the performance of the experimental team against the Swiss sent positive signals that they had the quality to be competitive in Qatar.

As the Black Stars prepare to open their World Cup campaign against Portugal tomorrow, it is important that Ghanaians continue to strongly rally behind the team through prayers and at the stadium during matches, as they had done in previous years, to ensure that the team excel.

The Daily Graphic believes that public discussions about the Black Stars on social media will be discussions that will encourage the players and build confidence in the team to excel. This is because the team will draw strength from the knowledge that Ghanaians are solidly behind them to succeed.

Whenever the Black Stars excel at major competitions, such as the World Cup, there is unbridled joy and a sense of pride among Ghanaians and Africans at large, so we must encourage Skipper Andre Ayew and his teammates to wear the national jersey with a sense of pride and give of their best on the field as warriors and ambassadors of Ghana.

And at such a time of economic difficulties and when society is forlorn, the Daily Graphic is looking up to the Black Stars to generate joy and hope among Ghanaians.

So on Black Stars match days, beginning tomorrow, we should all rally behind the team by wearing our replica jerseys, national colours and other symbols of our national identity.

Good luck Black Stars.