Insulated against heartbreak - Elizabeth Ohene writes

Insulated against heartbreak - Elizabeth Ohene writes

Since almost all of us claimed that we were not expecting very much from the Black Stars at the AFCON23, I wonder why the defeat to Cape Verde hit so hard.


Before the match, on every radio station I listened, the "cross-section of Ghanaians" that spoke to reporters about the chances of the national team at the African Cup of Nations competition in Abidjan, had nothing but doom-laden predictions.                                                                                                                                                                                              
Everybody said the Black Stars would be kicked out at the group stages.                                                                                                                                                                                    
The sportswriters went to great lengths to tell us why they did not think the team had a chance.

Even those among them who said they were optimistic by nature could not bring themselves to say the Black Stars would do well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
I heard theories about curses, those among us who are superstitious had our fears reinforced by stories of old grudges and wrong colour jerseys being responsible for the Black Stars not winning competitions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Of course, when it comes to football, we are all experts in this country and we all have our theories about what should be done and what should not be done.                                         

I heard my friend Ken Bediako on the radio.

Now, that is someone about whom one can use the word "legendary" and not run the risk of being accused of resorting to hyperbole.

Ken knows everything there is to know about sports, about football, about the Black Stars, about the team, the coaches, the officials, the politics around the selection process, the jerseys throughout the years, the highs and lows, the near misses.

He has followed them around the continent and the world, he knows where all the skeletons are hidden and apart from his knowledge, he has always wished Ghana well.

You can safely rely on what he has to say about football in Ghana.

I heard his analysis on the radio and I could hear the struggle between his head and his heart.

I could hear him not wanting to dampen the enthusiasm of any young person who was probably going to have his first experience of the Black Stars at an AFCON.

I heard him trying to be positive, maybe in the hope that if we all believe and wish the Black Stars well enough, they might pull a pleasant surprise.


I heard other experts do what they do best by hedging their bets so that if the team wins, they can claim they predicted a win and if the team loses, they can still claim they knew the team would lose.

The sentiment among the supporters was generally one of we have been disappointed too many times and there is no need to set ourselves up to have our hearts broken again.

One young man said the last time the Black Stars were playing a competitive match, he decided not to eat his dinner until after the match.

According to his story, the food was never eaten, and he has never recovered his mental and physical equilibrium.

He was therefore taking no such chances anymore.

He would not make any emotional investments in the national team.

If the Black Stars win, he said he will be happy, if they lose, his heart would not be broken.

I have been trying to analyse my own sentiments.

Once upon a time, there would have been no question about how I would have spent last Sunday night.

I suspect that I would have tried to go to Abidjan to watch the match.

It is less than an hour's flight away and time was when I have paid good money and flown halfway around the world to watch the Black Stars play.

I would have gone because I was sure the Black Stars would win, even though I would obviously hope and pray that they would win. Following the Black Stars was simply part of my life.


Today, I don't even know the names of the Black Star players, I don't know and have no ideas on who should have been included in the team and was left out, I have not got angry with Chris Hughton, (aha, I know the name of the Coach) nor felt like sending him an open letter detailing what he should have done.

I don't even recall the last time I got into any arguments with anyone about the Black Stars.

I fell out of love with the Black Stars after the Brazil antics. 

I accepted it had been a one-way love affair.

I have been around long enough to know that you can never love anyone enough to sustain a relationship if the object of your love doesn't return a wee bit of your love.


The Black Stars expected to be loved but felt under no obligation to love us.

I did see the photos of the team in gorgeous kente and was captivated.

I thought whoever came up with the idea of getting them to wear kente was imaginative and brave.

I have no idea why I didn't think the Black Stars players would know how to wear kente or be able to carry it with such panache, but they certainly looked impressive and as my friend Akwasi Agyemang captioned the photos, they looked the part as the Kings of Africa.


They were simply going to win a few matches in Abidjan and be formally crowned Kings of Africa, they already had the royal regalia.

Sunday night

Come Sunday night, I couldn't bring myself to watch the match.

Surely I didn't think there was any danger of the Black Stars losing to Cape Verde, God forbid.

I claimed I wasn't watching or listening to the commentary on the match, but I knew within seconds when that first Cape Verde goal was scored.

The news came from my son in Austin Texas, and when we equalised, Austin reported before I was able to tell from the car horns that blared in celebration on the street nearby.

So, the question is this, if nobody was expecting the Black Stars to win, and if it has been simply a case of our worst fears being realised when the Black Stars lost, I wonder why everybody is so down?

I thought that was what we were expecting and therefore were prepared for it.

For all the bravado, and claims of not having confidence in the Black Stars, I think we had all been hoping secretly to defeat Cape Verde, force a draw with Egypt and run riot over Mozambique and then take our chances once we make it out of the group stages.

I confess I am dreading the next two matches.

But then, can someone you claim not to love, really break your heart?

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