Within the parameters of what matters most in AFCON qualifiers like that of Thursday in Kumasi, between Ghana and Angola, the 1-0 win for the Black Stars was satisfactory. It’s a big plus in our forward march to Cote d’Ivoire. However, looking at things in the context of decent, organised team play, the Black Stars’ show was drab.
It’s fine to note that Coach Chris Hughton didn’t promise beautiful football. How interesting that, on his first day at work, his team laboured 90 minutes and beyond before putting smiles on our faces – particularly the thousands of fans who positively responded, as always, to the national call to come and cheer the Black Stars.
Kumasi, famously, is the heartbeat of the country’s football. We can’t argue about that. We also needn’t debate the unifying force the Black Stars are or have been from the early days of post-colonial rule. It’s why we should be interested in how the team is managed not only technically but administratively too by the FA and the politicos.
Black Stars’ win is a win for every Ghanaian and we see and feel it when our team performs. Chris Hughton and the team triumphed but the consensus is that the stars’ shine was dim; we didn’t see any glitter in the sky, at the stadium or on television relative to the Black Stars’ performance. There’s work to done.
Work on playing as a unit, taking on opponents with dazzling courage and in fact, scoring. Hughton just got down to work but we must be blunt regardless of giving him total support. We have to review the team’s form against Angola with the objective of correcting what didn’t go right; not like slamming a little ant with a sledge hammer.
I like how Hughton is exerting his authority firmly over the team in these early days. His answer to why he neither started nor fielded the captain, Andre Ayew says it all. “This is the choice you have as a Head Coach. You know the quality that Andre has – you also know the quality that I like to think the squad have,” he stated.
“So these are very difficult decisions for me; certainly nothing to read into that” he added. We would invariably disagree on Hughton’s “difficult decisions”. What would matter to some of us wouldn’t simply be explanations of those decisions but ultimately how his decisions transform the Black Stars’ into a proper winning team.
That’s what Ghanaian fans expect, to play well and win trophies eventually. I believe that’ll come in the course of time. For now, it’s lovely that we won. It’s also great that Kumasi marvellously turned up as it has always done. Many expect the best from Chris Hughton and the Black Stars but their first outing under the new dispensation is far from exciting. We’re hoping for the best in future games.