Seeing ecstatic scenes at the Cape Coast stadium on Sunday was appropriate not just for the occasion of Ghana’s 4-1 win over big rival Nigeria, but it was more so to address the fact that the West African nation had not won a title at the senior level since 1982.
Prior to the Black Stars “B” team winning this year’s West African Football Union (WAFU) Tournament, the best win for the team and its team “A” affiliate was the Zenith Cup organized ahead of the 2008 African Championship. However, there are so many examples that illustrate why this trophy win doesn’t cut it in terms of major achievements a country like the hitherto named Gold Coast can boast.
For instance, the “Majors” are what Tennis and Golf Athletes strive for; winning tournaments like the FedEx Cup is great but doesn’t enshrine a player’s name in the Hall of Greats like a win in the British, US and Master’s Championship in Augusta does.
Ditto for Tennis where winning competitions outside the big four tournaments in Australia, France, England and the United States doesn’t necessarily make the grade. Should former World Number One player Caroline Wozniacki retire without winning any of the major tournaments, she won’t be a Hall of Famer the way Wimbledon Champions Garbine Mugurudza and Petra Kvitova would be.
In the same vein, should Maxwell Konadu retire from coaching without adding to his Ghana Premier League title with Kumasi Asante Kotoko, his name is likely not be ranked in the annals of Jones Attuquayefio, Sam Arday and Osam Duodu. Winning the WAFU Cup is good but what good comes out of playing a dress rehearsal competition after failing to qualify to compete in the main tournament.
Next year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) is due in a few months and the just ended competition was planned to prepare teams from the sub-region for the continental event. Reliving top national rivalries by players from local leagues proved to be an eye-catching spectacle of course with major help from Headline Sponsor Fox Sports.
However, while countries like Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Ivory Coast competed in the WAFU Tournament with an eye on the main prize next year, Ghana was in the hunt to host and win a trophy that is nothing more than the COSAFA and CECAFA Cups played out in Southern, Central and Eastern Regions of Africa. So sorry Coach Maxwell Konadu but winning the WAFU Cup does not make up for the disappointed of failing to qualify for the CHAN tournament as stated in your postgame presser.
How can a sub-regional title trump that of a continental title? The circumstances of the Black Stars failure to make it to the 2018 CHAN highlighted Konadu’s sharp and shocking fall from a high pedestal he quickly gained after blasting through Ghana’s coaching ranks early in his career.
Drawing 2-2 with Burkina Faso after taking a two goal lead away from home and losing in the return leg before home fans began a bad run capped off by his superior Kwesi Appiah’s wretched performance from the dugout in Black Stars Team A’s goalless draw with Congo.
This was the latest failure by the team to make it to the pet project of ex CAF Chief Issa Hayatou following a similar disappointing qualification campaign in 2015 where Ghana missed out to Ivory Coast with Konadu still in charge. Making the tournament this time around was the least task expected from Konadu to achieve and he missed it badly. So coming out tops in a regional competition Gambia participated with a huge contingent from it's Under 20 side is not a big deal.
As things stand, Ghana is praying hard for CAF Vice Chair Kwesi Nyantakyi to wave his administrative magic wand for his country to play in the competition by hosting it.
Due to concerns about host nation, Kenya’s readiness for the tournament, the East African country has been stripped of its rights as host opening the door for Ghana to take over and earn a spot on 2018’s competition roster.
Just like Equatorial Guinea played in the 2015 AFCON without qualifying by hosting the competition, Ghana could be next thanks to a scrum of ready to use stadia. Until this happens, Ghana’s WAFU Cup is a hollow statistic.
Credit: Yaw Adjei-Mintah