As the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers came to an end over the weekend, with Ghana failing to make it to its fourth consecutive World Cup appearance, The Finder highlights some key factors that lead to the Black Stars’ inability to qualify to the mundial.
1. Avram Grant factor
The former Black Stars coach, Avram Grant, did not help matters when it came to the qualification. Grant was contracted by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017, without tasking the manager to qualify the Black Stars to the World Cup. Thus, the manager approached Ghana’s two opening matches against Uganda and Egypt with a very lackadaisical attitude. The Black Stars drew at home to Uganda at the Tamale Sports Stadium and lost to Egypt away by 2-0 during his tenure as Black Stars coach during the qualifiers.
The Israeli stuck to a template squad which brought no competition into the team. Grant’s sole purpose was aimed at AFCON 2017, and not the World Cup qualifiers. The GFA could be blamed for not tasking Avram Grant on the World Cup qualifiers. The lazy attitude of Avram Grant cannot be left out as his poor monitoring of players at home and abroad caused the national team. He was seen on TV programmes as a pundit instead of monitoring players for the national team.
2. Nii Lante Vanderpuiye’s rift with the GFA
The impasse between the former Minister for Youth and Sports, Nii Lante Vanderpuiye and the Ghana Football Association was one of the core factors for Ghana’s failure to qualify. Both parties were involved in a media war on the winning bonus issue of the Black Stars.
According to reports, there was a time that Sports Minister Nii Lante Vanderpuiye had to keep players of the Black Stars in a meeting till up to 12am prior to a World Cup qualifying match. Instead of the Sports Ministry and GFA collaborating to ensure Black Stars qualify, they were rather engaged in unnecessary tangles. Even though the former Sports Minister was not an actor on the field, his role was very crucial to the qualification of the Black Stars off the pitch. It was evident that Nii Lante Vanderpuiye had a bad relationship with the President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi.
3. Kwesi Nyantakyi and George Afriyie saga
The qualification series of the Black Stars was beleaguered by this in-fighting between the President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi, and his Vice, George Afriyie, which affected the team immensely. George Afriyie was very vibrant and loud whenever it came to matches of the Black Stars, especially in the World Cup qualifiers. There was a time he predicted on radio that the Black Stars will qualify for Russia 2018 should his boss Kwesi Nyantakyi be made the first CAF Vice-President. However, George Afriyie became silent and abandoned the Black Stars along the line when his impasse between Kwesi Nyantakyi started.
There were reports in the media which even indicated that George would resign from his post. Wilfred Osei Palmer, being the Vice-Chairman of the Black Stars management committee, took over from George in the latter parts of the qualifiers. The last time George Afriyie was heard talking about the Black Stars was the captain band issue involving Asamoah Gyan in the AFCON 2019 qualifier against Ethiopia.
4. Needless international friendly game against South Africa
Officials of the Ghana Football Association seemed to have been very interested in the international friendly match against South Africa than Ghana’s opener against Uganda in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Due to the friendly match, Ghana’s game against Uganda was played on a Friday afternoon at the Tamale Sports Stadium in order to make time for the team to prepare and travel to South Africa to honour the game, which was played on a Tuesday.
The GFA could have honoured Ghana’s opening game with Uganda on a Sunday, but chose Friday. The Black Stars arrived in South Africa at a time the South Africans were away in Burkina Faso playing their World Cup qualifiers. The Black Stars waited for two days before the South Africans arrived for the match. Meanwhile, the game against Uganda at Tamale had ended in stalemate whilst Egypt had beaten Congo away.
5. Winning bonus issues
The winning bonus issue dragged on prior to the commencement of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. This the team in a way, especially how it was dealt with by the former Sports Minister Nii Lante Vanderpuiye.