The inconsistencies in the Black Stars’ performance left no hope for the nation to compete in the World Cup for the second time after missing out in Russia 2018. It was a rolling storm that was on its way, but the Ghana Football Association (GFA) sacked former coach Charles Akonnor to reinvigorate the hope that will help secure a place in Qatar 2022. After scoring three points in the first two games, former coach Charles Akonnor was fired before the team’s October match against Zimbabwe.
Milovan Rajevac, a Serbian coach and former head coach of the Black Stars, was reappointed after leading the Stars to their second World Cup in 2010. Because of the Black Stars’ history with Serbian coaches, the appointment came as no surprise. Ratomir Dujkovic was the first Serbian coach to lead the Stars to their first World Cup appearance in Germany in 2006, followed by Milovan Rajevac in South Africa in 2010. Giving him the nod to lead again when all hope had been lost was a wise move on the part of the country’s football governing body.
After four matches, Ghana was second to South Africa with nine points, believing that a win over Ethiopia and a better result against South Africa in Cape Coast for the second meeting in Ghana would be enough to qualify for the playoffs. However, the match against Ethiopia, which was played in South Africa – a home away from home for the Ethiopians – did not go as planned for the Black Stars. The 1-1 draw left the Stars with no chance of qualifying from their group, but South Africa’s single goal win over Zimbabwe gave the Black Stars a second chance to qualify, with their destiny in their own hands.
In a video obtained by SportsworldGhana.com, captain Dede Ayew is seen encouraging his players to fight on. “If you know that when we arrive in Ghana, you will listen to what Ghanaians have to say about what went on here, then you should plan on returning home when we arrive.” “We have to compete in the World Cup, and if you are unwilling to fight for your country, Ghana, you do not deserve to be a part of us,” Captain Dede Ayew says. After a disappointing single goal gave Ghana the chance to qualify with a win in Cape Coast, this speech encouraged the players to give it their all in the final match against South Africa in Ghana.
Captain @AyewAndre words after the Black Stars picked up a draw against Ethiopia in South Africa.
Apt leadership 🇬🇭
— SPORTSworldGhana.com (@sportworldghana) November 16, 2021
Indeed, it happened, and the Stars won the match in Cape Coast after Andre Ayew converted a penalty kick in the 33rd minute, a penalty that sparked many controversies and complaints from the South African Football Association (SAFA), with petitions to CAF and FIFA calling for an investigation into the penalty awarded.
Ayew scored three goals in the group stages to help the Black Stars earn crucial points and advance to the playoffs. That speech alone after the Ethiopian game resulted in the nation’s best performance in the group stages thus far.
Ghana is one of ten teams that have qualified for the playoffs, which will take place in March 2021; however, the Black Stars’ opponent will be revealed in December following the draw. Ghana is seeded in Pot 2 alongside Egypt and Cameroon, and could face Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria.
Source: Vincent Owusu