On a normal day, I would not put on my thinking cap to write on football because I feel a lot of sports journalists do that often. I always want to be unique and appealing in terms of my writings and take different dimensions on key issues. This time around I want have a bite of this tasty cherry. Ghanaians are very passionate when it comes to football and I am of no exception to this, I also love football and when I was a kid I thought I might be a sport journalist but situation alters dreams. I will take delight in highlighting on the just ended AFCON 2017.
AFCON 2017 was the 31st edition organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) with Issa Hayatou being the captain of the ship. The AFCON 2017 was hosted by Gabon and I must say the AFCON has been thrilling, exciting, nerve wrecking, surprising, heartbreaking etc. The mood correlated with the plethora of games we witnessed. There were a couple of injuries, good goalkeeping, great goals and diverse celebrations and this is good for African Football.
Tournament of such magnitude will always attract spectacles from the world and I am highly elated we did well with the organization and the kind of football played. I would not talk about the highs without touching on the lows. One of the flaws of the tournament was the pitches the games were played on, very poor and even caused some of the injuries. The second flaw I noticed was the officiating. Some of the officiating were bad and I believe moving forward we have to take a critical look at these things because they are indispensable. I want to use this opportunity to congratulate the top four teams Cameroon (1st), Egypt (2nd), Burkina Faso (3rd) and Ghana (4th).
Cameroon were not favourites from the on start, in other words nobody ticked them to win the AFCON 2017. This is because they had lost their key players due to certain reasons so the highlight was not on them. This is a team that surprised the world with their performance. You could clearly see how hungry they were for the trophy. They exhibited great teamwork and they worked hard for it so for me I was not astonished they won the trophy. When they eliminated Senegal, scored Ghana in the semifinal, my dark vision became bright and I saw how dangerous they were and will win the trophy. I am not a soothsayer but I saw it coming. My favourite in the Cameroon team was Fabrice Ondua. Egypt were one of the favourites even before the tournament began.
I know a couple of friends who chose Egypt as their second team. Their performance for me was not impressive as compared to previous tournaments. They did not exhibit what we know them for but they managed to get to the final. One thing that merited them was that, they took their chances seriously and scored. They didn’t concede so many goals in this tournament. Burkina Faso I would not want to say much about them but rather congratulate them. They have good players and they must thank Aristide Bance for assisting them in the elimination stages. I was looking forward to see Jonathan Pitroipa shine in this tournament but unfortunately he was sidelined due to injury.
Now at this juncture, my focus will be on the Blackstars.
Blackstars were also one of the favourites of this tournament. They were ticked by football fanatics and pundits to win the AFCON this time around. Blackstars have been trophyless since 1982, which is very bad for the country. This tournament was an opportunity to break that jinx because the nation has been yearning for the trophy for long. I am very young and I must say my generation hasn’t seen Blackstars win any trophy. Our performance in this tournament was nothing to write home about. Am not surprised because their performance was lacklustre and has exacerbated from the previous AFCON. Ghanaians were heartbroken when Cameroon scored us in the semifinals. Comments I chanced on social media showed how this saddened the heart of Ghanaians.
This made Ghanaians descend heavily on the Blackstars. We were not happy about the coach’s performance in this tournament. Our game against Burkina Faso was even more heartbreaking because a team that has been ticked by pundits and fanatics across Africa didn’t even win bronze. That’s very embarrassing I must say.
When the young players were introduced, you could see how hungry they were and their performances were exciting and impressive until the senior players were introduced. Blackstars’ performance has been and will still be the talk of the town. We should look at the way forward and see how best we can bring a trophy home to wipe the tears of Ghanaians.
This article was written by Ben Owusu-Mante, known in showbiz as Trilla.