President J. A. Kufuor re-scheduled his trip to Italy for a meeting of the World Food Programme to return home on Saturday to inspire the senior national team in their quarter-final match against the Super Eagles of Nigeria in Accra yesterday.The President travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week to attend the 10th ordinary session of the African Union and was expected to continue to Italy to attend the annual meeting of the World Food Programme.
The crucial nature of the match, and the need to inspire the Stars to victory, made President Kufuor reschedule his travelling arrangement and return home to have a pep talk with the senior national team at the Fiesta Hotel last Saturday night.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food aid branch of the United Nations, and the world's largest humanitarian agency. WFP provides food to 90 million people on average per year, 58 million of whom are children.
After watching the match, President Kufuor is expected to fly to Italy to attend the WFP meeting.
Interacting with the Stars some six hours after his return from Addis Ababa, President Kufuor said in view of the importance of the match, and the need for the national team to strive towards winning the cup, he decided to meet and inspire them.
He advised the players not to be nervous but be calm, cool and collected, knowing very well they had the capacity and ability to beat the Nigerian side.
The President further advised the players to continue to subject themselves to the discipline of the technical handlers and abstain from any acts which were likely to affect their performance.
"l am here to watch you and make sure that the spirit with which you started the competition remains with you until you win the tournament.
"No fears, we are together and we are winning," he told the Stars who clapped to express their admiration for the words of encouragement from the President.
The President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Mr Kwasi Nyantakyi, said the visit would certainly boost the morale of the players and assured the President that the players would do their best to win the match and the ultimate prize.
The Captain of the Black Stars, John Mensah, in a terse statement, expressed profound gratitude to the President for the visit and said it was a key to the victory of the national team in their match against Nigeria.
Earlier at the Kotoka International Airport, the President on his return home, was met on his arrival by Ministers of State, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Patrick Acheampong, and other senior military and police personnel.
Briefing newsmen at the airport, the Press Secretary to the President and Presidential Spokesman, Mr Andrew Awuni, said Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was elected as the new Chairman of the African Union to take over from President J.A. Kufuor, while the Gabonese Foreign Minister, Jean Ping, was elected to replace Mr Alpha Konare as Chairman of the AU Commission.
Mr Awuni said the 18th session of Heads of State of the Implementation Group of NEPAD and the eighth session of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) were also held on the sidelines of the AU Summit.
The President took the opportunities offered by the two meetings to present a comprehensive second annual reports on issues bordering on democracy, governance, gender, as well as actions taken by his government to satisfy the recommendations of the APRM.
Mr Awuni said the meeting agreed on the selection of a number of African leaders including the new AU Chairman, Jakaya Kikwete, and President Kufuor to examine the road map for the proposed continental union government and present a report to the next AU session in July this year.
The meeting also endorsed the setting up of a three-member panel by President Kufuor under the chairmanship of Mr Kofi Annan, former UN Chief, to restore peace in Kenya.
Story by Nehemia Owusu Achiaw