The year began brightly for Ghana as a relatively young and inexperienced Black Stars team defied all odds to make the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
Confidence was very low as most of the more established players of the team had to miss the tournament due to a variety of reasons which was dominated by injuries. Even Michael Essien who just about made it to Angola only lasted past Ghana’s first group game against Cote d’Ivoire.
I am sure little did he and many other Ghanaians knew that the team left behind, “The Kids” were the ones to take the nation to its first Africa Cup final in 18 years and truly could have snatched it.
It was however not to be as a more organised and experienced Egypt team claimed the sixth and third African crown on the bounce with a late strike from super sub, Mohammed Gedo Nagy. But again, i am sure Ghanaians would more than take the team’s feat considering the circumstances it found itself prior to the start.
Fast forward to June, the Black Stars went on to prove that their feat chalked in Angola about four months earlier was no fluke. Kudos to the Ghana FA for managing to rope in a Kevin-Prince Boateng who made sure the team did not miss Essien who hadn’t fully recovered from the injury he sustained from the African Cup.
Ghana was a penalty kick away from setting a record as the only African side to make the last four of the Fifa World Cup. However it was never to be as Asamoah Gyan’s way-ward spot kicked left fans in the Johannesburg Stadium and many others around the globe bitterly disappointed.
But truly again, the boys really impressed everyone especially again with the circumstances it found itself. For once the World stood up and appreciated the technical and tactical discipline of an African side at the senior World Cup – a trait that has bedeviled sides from the continent in past world cup’s.
Immediately after the impressive male outing at the World Cup in South Africa, the U-20 Womens team also embarked on another world adventure in Germany.
Unlike the male version, publicity, attendance and the general atmosphere at this World Cup was virtually not in existence and the Black Princesses did not do much to improve it in the Ghanaian perspective.
A win and a draw against Switzerland and the USA respectively raked in 4 points just like the Black Stars but the difference was that, it was just not enough to carry the female youth team through to the knockout stages- they had to book an early flight back home.
A month later, yet another youthful female side was at battle with the world in the U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.
Even after recording a famous victory over Brazil, losses to Canada and the Republic of Ireland meant the Black Maidens had to come home early.
Just when one thought it couldn’t get worse, the senior womens team, the Black Queens bundled out of the African Cup in South Africa without even making it past the group stages. Even the title of Africa’s No.2 behind Nigeria was taking away from us – now being filled by Equatorial Guinea of all nations!
No disrespect, but really, if Ghana is now behind a country like Equatorial Guinea, then the womens game of this nation really needs “emergency surgery” and it has to be now.
The Nation is currently experiencing a mixed baggage in terms of qualification for the next couple of tournaments – all being continental events.
The Black Stars seemed to be carrying the momentum from the impressive world cup outing by thrashing Swaziland in the first qualification game for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations to be jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea (afterwhich Milovan Rajevac departed to Saudi club Al Ahli-Jeddah), but a barren game against Sudan at home brought back the doubters.
Though still top of the group standings, the team surely knows it cannot accommodate anymore slip-ups.
The Local Black Stars team also qualified to play in the second edition of the CHAN to be hosted in Sudan.
The Black Satelites duly earned qualification to defend their African crown in Libya with a comfortable 6-1 aggregate scoreline against neighbours Benin.
The story was a whole lot different for the Black Starlets who once again failed to cross the final hurdle of qualification – loosing on penalties to Senegal. The nation has thus failed to qualify for the past three editions of the tournament.
Ghana’s efforts at both the African Cup in Angola and the World Cup surely couldn’t have gone unnoticed.
The country swept all but one of the awards it was nominated for. The Most Promising Player (Kwadwo Asamoah), National Team of the Year (Black Stars), Coach of the Year (Milovan Rajevac), plus a honourary award to the Ghana Football Association. There was however heated debate as to why Asamoah Gyan was overlooked for the African Player of the Year especially after bagging the BBC version four days earlier.
Anyway, he came second to Samuel Eto’o and as far as i am concerned the award was to consolation for the Cameroonian after Caf horrendously gave the award to Drogba last year right infront of me here in Accra.
Leagues and other Domestic Competitions
The 2010-2011 Glo Premier League started on a very bright spot but with heavyweights like Accra Hearts of oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko struggling to keep up with the emerging powerhouses, there seems to be a little blip in excitement.
However, with the emergence of Bechem Chelsea, Kessben (Medeama) and the others proves what proper organisation and massive investment could do to change the fortunes of a club.
The league however suffered some problems notable of them: the Kotoko-Arsenal jersey clash incident, the hooliganism in the BA Stars-New Edubiase game and the raid on the offices of the GFA by the EOCO which resulted in the suspension of the Premier League for a week.
The PLB, clubs and other stakeholders however managed to steer the league to fairly a successful first round end to be resumed in the new year.
Refreshingly though, the FA Cup was brought back to life after a ten-year absence. At least lower tier clubs would have the platform yet again to steal the limelight even if it is for a day and would also get some much needed cash for their efforts.
The Division One league also has kicked of with no major incident yet.
At the moment, the senior national team is coachless and the search for Milovan Rajevac has itself opened a whole big can of worms.
The surprise omissions of the big-names that were reported to have applied for the job, the Marseille Desaily saga and the increasingly sour relationship between the football association and the present government.
At least we are being told a coach would be secured in a few weeks time so at least some of these challenges are being dealt with but we can only hope the other amny challenges be met especially to put to bed this issue of GFA-Government issue once and for all.
Generally, Ghana had a good year but we could sure have a better 2011 with the CHAN and the retention of both our Africa and world U-20 crown coupled with the qualification of the Black Stars to the 2012 CAN.