The bonding power of a trophy

BY: Joe Frazier
Africa Cup 2017 in the horizon. Due to start in a couple of weeks in Gabon, this competition will be very crucial for national bonding
Africa Cup 2017 in the horizon. Due to start in a couple of weeks in Gabon, this competition will be very crucial for national bonding

The staccato of celebratory gunfire and crackers shake the sleepy Asokwa sky. The echoes are transported across the Susan valley to invade the peace of the bedrooms of residents of the Ahensan side of the valley.

It is a nightly ritual which starts at 9:30 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. or a little later. It has been this way since the Electoral Commissioner declared the results of Election 2016. The cup of the victorious New Patriotic Party (NPP) clearly is running over. It is a sweet and emphatic victory earned through meticulous planning and flawless execution. Obviously, only the NPP supporters are deservedly enjoying the glory of the moment. But can we have an occasion of victory that all Ghanaians, irrespective of party affiliation, can enjoy together as one people?

Surely, there is Africa Cup 2017 in the horizon. Due to start in a couple of weeks in Gabon, this competition will be very crucial for national bonding. A win will see all 26 million Ghanaians savour victory with hugs and general jubilation. Admittedly, such a victory will not come on a silver platter. Since 1982, we have waited but have had our hopes dashed even in those years when Ghana had been tipped heavily to win the cup.

For the past two weekends, I have been watching matches of the English Premier League (EPL). I am fascinated by the intensity and the skills that characterise that league. It also gladdens my heart that some of the strongest teams of the EPL cannot do without players from African national teams. I must ,however, hasten to say that I envy countries such as Nigeria, Senegal, Algeria and Cote d’ivoire for the amazing rate at which they produce new and exciting players to feed the major leagues of the world. It is such players who make a difference in a nation winning the African Cup. Unfortunately for Ghana, our Black Stars players, especially in Europe are not performing at the level of Nigerians or Senegalese or Algerians. How will Ghana fare then in Gabon? I insist that we can do well without a galaxy of stars.

The point must be made that team selection and preparation are the keys to success in a continental competition. Perhaps, Mr Mac Manu, the NPP campaign strategist may have more to say about it, if only Avram Grant will listen to him. A team such as the Cranes of Uganda cannot boast of more than average stars but they are doing well in continental matches. Their coach knows strategy. He selects the best players available and drills this strategy into them.

Avram Grant on the other hand seems enamoured with certain strikers who have consistently failed to score in open play. He has ignored players such as Kevin Prince Boateng who is currently doing wonders in Spain; Majit Warris and the budding stars who, not too long ago, had won bronze in Under-21 World Cup in Turkey.

If there is any time in our history when we need to bring the African Cup trophy to Ghana, it is 2017. Through our jubilation, the cup will bond us as one nation. Football is our number one obsession and must be made to serve the purpose of oneness. We want to hear gun salutes and fireworks to herald the return of our heroes back home from Gabon with the cup. Incidentally, Ghana will have had a new Minister of Youth and Sports, if the new government chooses to maintain old nomenclature. Let’s pray that he brings good luck to this seat which has once been described in this column as the transit house for make-weight ministers. The portfolio has been cursed with frequent changes and internecine wars. Worse, it is sometimes doused liberally with scandals. Hopefully, the new minister will not be the choobbooi type whose actions will revisit the past. We need stability. We need trophies.