All too soon the African Nations Cup is here with us again.
The 32nd edition which is being hosted by Egypt, the record seven times champions, will commence on June 21 and end on July 19.
In all, 24 national teams are competing as against the usual 16 teams following an expansion of the competition.
Ghana’s participation in the competition dates back to 1963 when we made our first appearance.
At a point, we were the most crowned with four trophies until mighty Egypt overtook us.
That Ghanaians love football and for that matter the Black Stars is an understatement.
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And this is for good reasons.
There is no single event which brings us together like when the Black Stars are playing, especially when they are in their elements and rubbing shoulders with the best in the world.
We believe so much in our national team that we expect them to win every tournament no matter the odds.
Even in matches with well-established and better equipped teams, we still expect the Black Stars to win.
Of course, such expectations are not unfounded as our national teams at all levels have prevailed in the past over some of the best teams in the world.
In 1991, the Black Starlets conquered the world in Italy by winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Ghana’s under-20 team (Black Satellites) won the World Cup against Brazil in Egypt in 2009.
The Black Stars also saw off the Czech Republic, then ranked second by FIFA, during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The Stars again prevailed against Serbia during the 2010 World Cup in South Arica.
To expect that a Ghanaian team going into a tournament will do well seems like a forgone conclusion.
Regrettably, the picture painted above speaks more about our history than our present circumstances.
The last time Ghanaians set eyes on the coveted AFCON trophy was in Libya in 1982.
Ever since, there have been near misses with Ghana appearing at the finals record five times.
It is therefore very good justification that we seem to be demanding it as a right that the cup should come home.
We have tried all manner of strategies, including “host and win” but to no avail.
But is the fact that we have not won the cup for a long time enough justification for us to have it?
How about sister competing nations who have not won it even once?
In sports, as in many endeavours in life, the best prepared always has a better chance.
How we prepare will go a long way to determine our outcome. Then also is the assemblage of material (players) we are sending out there.
They may be our best but do they match up the big ones out there? Hunger to die for one’s country is not enough when you are competing with superior forces.
How many of our players are playing top flight football in Europe?
You bet not many.
Issues such as the quality of our technical bench, discipline and unity within the playing body will all come to play.
Not long ago, the issue of the captaincy nearly marred our preparations but the President intervened and it is our hope that the matter has been resolved.
Only time will tell though.
On player motivation, it appears we are on course as we have a President who is passionate about the game and is personally pulling the strings.
Then, of course, is good old luck. A dose of it will come in handy in Egypt.
This will require concerted prayers from all of us who make up corporate Ghana.
It is when all these are working in our favour that we can begin to lay realistic claim to the trophy.
Even when the above is done, it does not automatically mean that the trophy is ours for the taking.
The other competing nations would also leave no stone unturned to ensure that they achieve success.
It is for these reasons that we need to manage our expectations as a nation so that should the unfortunate happen, heavens forbid, we can manage it with dignity.
Wishes are still not horses.