Thomas Partey on Tuesday led the Black Stars to a 5-1 romp over Congo in Brazzaville with a performance that could breathe back life into Ghana’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign after an unusually poor start.
With Kwasi Appiah’s team virtually blowing away their World Cup hopes after dropping two vital points against the Congolese in a 1-1 game in Kumasi, Ghanaians wrote off the team’s chances of making it to a fourth consecutive Mundial. And the fallout from last Friday’s match, particularly after team captain, Asamoah Gyan; his deputy, Andre Ayew, and Jordan Ayew had all pulled out of yesterday’s return fixture in Brazzaville over injury and health concerns, hardly won the team the needed goodwill and support.
Yesterday’s victory, which saw Partey scoring a hat-trick and Richmond Boakye-Yiadom hitting a brace, hardly won back Ghanaians because the Black Stars might just have left it too late in the qualifiers. Nonetheless, that the team put up an impressive performance and achieved such a high-scoring win without the big-name players is food for thought for the team’s management committee and Coach Appiah.
It is no secret that the team’s big-name stars are not in the best of form lately and hardly put up the kind of inspirational performance required to qualify Ghana to the World Cup, as was the case in the three previous qualifying campaigns. And suspicion of a power play between Gyan and Andre was not helped by their pedestrian performance in last Friday’s game, followed by their withdrawal from the return fixture over doubtful claims of injury.
In an interview, Gyan just let the cat out of the bag that the players were not hungry enough against the Congolese. While this is an honest admission, Gyan’s revelation that “the desire wasn’t there today” was nothing short of an indictment on his part as team leader that he and his teammates were not tactically and mentally prepared to fight for a place in Russia next year for football’s biggest global gathering.
Whichever way one looks at it, yesterday’s victory in Brazzaville sent a message that there were still younger players who were ready to wear the national jersey with pride and play with a sense of commitment and desire.
It may have come late in the day, with yesterday’s massive victory unlikely to save Ghana’s World Cup dreams, but it was a testament that Coach Appiah must be firm and sit tight to ensure that only players who are hungry for the big stage and ready to fight for the national cause are invited to the team for future assignments.
Appiah’s inability to effectively deal with indiscipline among his big-name players undermined Ghana’s World Cup campaign in Brazil three years ago and it is about time he ensured that his players wear the national jersey with a sense of pride, and those without the desire to play with passion axed, no matter whose ox is gored.