An Ode to The Black Stars | The Beauty & Joy of Football

Black Star

 

I have never considered myself a football fan. Heck I can’t even remember the last time I sat down to watch a game of football. And no, I am not a bimbo…I just don’t like sports.

The only time you would catch me watching a football game is when Ghana is playing, and it has to be an international match. I do enjoy such games because I know the players. I know their stories. I know how they started and how far they’ve come. For most of them, it is a story of grass to grace. It resonates with me as well as a whole lot of Ghanaians.

In 2006, Ghana qualified to play in the world cup for the very first time. As a non-football fan, all I could process from that piece of information was that Ghana was going to share the stage along with other big name countries. It was a chance to for the whole world to know about this awesome tiny West African country.

We were put in a group along with Czech Republic, Germany and the USA. These countries were giants in the football world (well apart from the USA). I can never forget how Ghana’s performance at the 2006 world cup made me feel. In particular I remember the match between Ghana and the USA. That match was a make or break match for us. It was either we won, or our team would be sent back home. You see, nobody even thought Ghana would leave any mark in the games. After all, that was our very first world cup. But the Black Stars surprised everyone, including Ghanaians watching at home.

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Take a Bow: ‘Local Coach’ James Kwesi Appiah to Debut on the World Stage-World Cup 2014 | ‘The Black Man is Capable Of Managing His Own Affairs’

James Kwesi Appiah
James Kwesi Appiah

When the Black Stars line up late tonight to take on the might of the United States of America, a little bit of history which is being threatened to be overshadowed by all the brouhaha of a world cup is going to take place. For the first time in the history of Ghana, the Black Stars are going to be led by a black man on the world stage, at the senior level.

Admittedly ours is a short romance with the world cup, this just being our 3rd tournament overall, but this does not in any way diminish the significance of the occurrence. Ghana’s first president Dr Nkrumah is amongst other things, famous for his utterance that “the black man is capable of managing his own affairs”. And after trusting in the white man to take us to our first two world cups, Kwesi Appiah was given the chance and has, rather spectacularly, led the team to the world cup in a manner more flamboyant than either of his predecessors could manage.

We have a rather unfortunate tendency in this country to dismiss the value of our own products, and this pertained to our choice of a national team coach for a long time. Which is why the exploits of Kwesi Appiah should not be glossed over, as in being successful he makes a case not only for himself, but for all local coaches and for our ability to perform just as well as the foreigner given the right conditions.

READ ALSO: Ghana Vrs USA: How Ghana Can Beat USA-World Cup 2014

Kwesi Appiah’s initial appointment was met with incredulity and indifference by a large section of the Ghanaian public. There were those who believed a local coach was the way to go, but Kwesi Appiah himself was largely untested as a manager at the top level. Admittedly, he had been assistant coach of the Black Stars for several years prior; this did not however diminish the calls of his critics who felt he was entirely out of his depth.

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Ghana Vrs USA: How Ghana Can Beat USA-World Cup 2014

Ghana Vrs USA Match Preview
Ghana Vrs USA Match Preview

“When I get older… I will be stronger … They will call me freedom … just like a waving flag …and then it goes back… oh oo o ” … Four years ago, Somalia’s K’naan rose to prominence with this theme song for the World Cup in South Africa, and while Shakira’s Waka Waka had a groove about it, Waving Flag just tugged at your heart strings in a special way…

Four years ago, Nana Borro’s “Aha y3d3” became another unofficial theme song, especially after Ghana games; Four years ago, Octopus Paul was your go to guy for match predictions; Four years ago, the Cedi was 1.4 to the Dollar…. Oh how the times have changed since the last World Cup!

But those moments are back; those moments when you, including your boss, steal office hours; dash from the office to the pub or rush home, if your wife is the “house master” type, to catch the action live on TV, or simply tune in to radio commentary from your car. For one long month from June 12 – July 13, our daily routines will be rearranged because the 2014 FIFA World Cup is here; live from the home of football, Brazil! and you know what that means; a football party!

For us this side of the Atlantic, we are concerned with how our beloved Black Stars would kick start the campaign against perennial World Cup foes, United States of America (USA), on Monday June 16, 2200 GMT in Natal. In keeping with the World Cup fever, I have got a couple of tips for Black Stars coach Kwesi Appiah on how to beat the USA from a purely scientific angle, nothing Kwaku Bonsam-ish. And oh, while I am at it, I will attempt an ideal line up too.

Arrest Michael Bradley

US Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, a former German international, recently stated that formations do not matter as much as tactics. In the lead up to the tournament, Klinsmann has departed from his favoured 4-2-3-1 in favour of a diamond 4-4-2 and tried several combinations with different players, although one has been ever present; Michael Bradley, son of former US and Egypt Coach Bob Bradley.

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Ghana Vrs USA Match Preview: Do Or Die Battle For Group G Underdogs-The Black Stars

Celebrating the BlackStars Win In Ghana
Black Star Fan

The Black Stars of Ghana will take on the United States coming Monday night as they kick off their third successive world cup campaign.

And for a third successive world cup, the Black Stars would have to beat the team from across the Atlantic if they are to have any realistic chance of making the next round. Paired in a so-called ‘Group of Death’ alongside European heavyweights Germany and Portugal, either side are aware of the value victory in this game would bring; as a loss would all but guarantee the elimination of the side in question.

In two previous world cup encounters, Ghana beat the United States 2-1; in the Group stage in Germany and at the second round stage in South Africa.

Bob Bradley led USA into both encounters, and his successor-Jurgen Klinsmann is not eager to suffer the same fate as the American. Klinsmann has already brought a change of style and mentality to the United States’ team, and from watching Ghana demolish South Korea 4-0 a week ago in a friendly is well aware of the threat his side would be facing.

“Obviously a great result for Ghana” Klinsmann said of the 4-0 win. “I wanted to see them myself and have an impression there, and we have that now”

Nevertheless, the German believes despite the history and pedigree of the Black Stars, his side can stand toe-to-toe with the them.

“We feel very confident going into this game against Ghana. But we also know what Ghana represents, one of the top nations in Africa, no doubt about it”

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