Ghana started their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign in great fashion as they beat South Africa 2-0 on Thursday evening.
Two goals in each half from Thomas Partey and debutant Kudus Mohammed powered Black Stars to victory at packed Cape Coast Stadium.
After failing to end the 37 years trophy drought in Egypt, Ghanaian football fandom were upset with the Black Stars after exiting the tournament at the round of 16.
However, Coach Kwesi Appiah and his lads seem to regain their confidence on the field once again.
South Africa who were psychologically strong ahead of the game were hoping to secure a win against the Black Stars but couldn’t play according to plan.
But after careful call up by Kwesi Appiah, the Black Stars seems to have bounced back to the footballing track.
Next up, the Black Stars will face Sao Tome e Principe on Tuesday.
Here are five things we learned from the game.
- Ghanaians have missed football
After several months of no action, the Black Stars returned to winning ways in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in a grand style.
The African football powerhouse had failed to take advantage of the two previous FIFA international break after the abysmal display at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. The decision of the Normalization Committee not to secure any friendly matches for the Black Stars was questioned by many football enthusiasts.
With local football yet to return, Ghanaians were yearning to witness football again and with the numbers at the Cape Coast Stadium on Thursday evening indicates that Ghanaians have missed the beautiful game called football.
It is not known when the Ghana Premier League will officially begin but supporters have demonstrated that they are ready to welcome the Ghana Premier League.
- Kwesi Appiah needs free hands to work
Despite football fans calling for his exit after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, Kwesi Appiah remained calm and focus despite pledging to win the ultimate.
Dr Kofi Amoah, who was the chairman of the Normalization Committee in an interview with Adom TV revealed that the former Al Khartoum manager will be shown the exit should he fail to win the trophy despite signing a contract extension until December. However, the Normalization Committee kept Kwesi Appiah and with a new FA in power, it pretty clear that the Kurt Okraku’s administration is ready to extend the contract of the gaffer.
Before the Cup of Nations qualifiers, Kwesi Appiah went to scout for Ghanaian players for two weeks in Europe and named a perfect 23 man squad despite some picking up late injuries.
Even though Kwesi Appiah is one of the local coaches who have been given many opportunities to be with the Black Stars. He has assisted several expatriate coaches with and had the advantage to lead the team as the head coach in 2012 and led the team to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
However, many questioned his second coming as the head coach of the Black Stars when the Kwesi Nyantakyi’s administration gave him another nod in 2017.
However, one thing that cannot be taken away from the Kwesi Appiah is his eyes to spot talents. The 59-year-old has discovered many talents for the country. After discovering Christian Atsu, Thomas Partey, Caleb Ekuban among other players, Kwesi Appiah surprisingly named Iddrisu Baba, Mohammed Salisu who was later ruled out of the game due to injury among other players in his 23 man squad for the clash and the these players exhibited some good football at the Cape Coast Stadium with Mohammed Kudus scoring the second goal on his debut.
Kwesi Appiah has been known of working with young talents and with these young players [Mohammed Kududs, Iddrisu Baba, Gideon Mensah, Alfred Duncan etc.] available, one can say Ghanaians are yet to see another beautiful Black Stars team.
Yes, we all want the see the trophy but one thing that has been a major problem is the transition of the team.
Kwesi Appiah will need peace of mind to concentrate on his job as the coach of the Black Stars and if his contract is extended, it will be in favour of the country.
Let us keep faith in Kwesi Appiah and he will deliver with this squad.
- Black Stars have rewarded Ghanaians with the win
After the shambolic display at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and exiting at the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, the Black Stars lost the supports of Ghanaians and have struggled to win the support of Ghanaians.
However, following the election of Kurt Okraku as the new Ghana Football Association president, his first initiative was to bring back the support for the Black Stars.
Ahead of the game at the Cape Coast Stadium, the players interacted with supporters at Winneba and Mankessim and assured Ghanaians that they will make them happy. The team also visited the University of Cape Coast students before the match on Thursday.
This move initiated by the Ghana FA is to draw the support of Ghanaian for the senior national team. However, despite a starting slowly in the first half, Ghana exhibited some impressive display and the dominated the second half but doing what was needed by humbling the Bafana Bafana with 2:0 at the end of the 90 minutes.
- This performance has reignited the passion
2:0 at home grounds? Yes. This result was needed to usher the new Ghana Football Association president, Kurt Okraku and his Executive Council Members into office and this young Black Stars team did it in a sweet fashion.
The initiative with the #BringBackTheLove for the Black Stars paid off with that huge victory. The Black Stars players knew they needed to do something extraordinary to compensate Ghanaians after years of impasse and beating South Africa convincingly will propel the love for the Black Stars again.
The debutant players exhibited that they are ready to die for the country. Andre Ayew led with proper leadership style with the likes of Thomas Partey, Jordan Ayew and Richard Ofori coming to the party.
This is what the Black Stars have been known for and we hope that Kurt Okraku’s initiative to reignite the passion for Ghana Football will yield fruits.
With the performance exhibited at the Cape Coast Stadium, football-loving fans can’t wait for the return of domestic football.
- No chance for old folks
Every proper team needs experienced players to blend with fresh legs and blood to reap results. A clear example is what is currently happening at Chelsea. Despite the exit of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in the summer and with the club facing a two-season transfer ban, Frank Lampard has brought in young players whom he has faith in and has successfully blended them with the experienced players at the club and Chelsea are getting the needed results.
But in the case of the Black Stars, the old players have no chance again. It is about time we keep these young players and tell them they are the ones to deliver.
Surprisingly, the starting line-up Kwesi Appiah named are players that are playing competitive league and playing regularly at their various clubs and are on form. The likes of Thomas Partey, Andre Ayew, Richard Ofori, Jordan Ayew and these young players who are playing regularly must be kept to ensure the progression of the Black Stars to avoid any impasse.
No doubt that Asamoah Gyan is a prolific goalscorer but at the age of 34, the NorthEast United FC forward must be told that he has no place in the national team. He has done his best for the country by being part of the team to play in three successive World Cup’s and emerging as the country’s all-time goal top goal scorer.
The likes of John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Harrison Afful, among other aged players must be sidelined from the team to ensure these young players have peace of mind to play for the country.
With the performance displayed by the young lads, it will be quite difficult for the old lads to find their way back to the team.