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07.06.2004 Football News

Don't wobble stars the battle has just begun!

By Daniel Kenu, GNA Sports Desk
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Accra, June 7, GNA - Ghana's quest of snatching the only slot in group Two of the African Zone of the 2006 World Cup qualifiers took a tumble on Saturday in Ouagadougou losing 0-1 to their once pushovers, the Stallions of Burkina Faso.

Until the shock result, many a Ghanaian soccer fan was very hopeful of victory because of two reasons. Firstly, it was the first time in recent times that the response from the foreign-based players have been so impressive and secondly a new social contract signed on behalf of the people of Ghana by the President J. A. Kufuor and the playing body with a 50 per cent increase in winning bonus, gave everybody a new hope of achieving the country's long cherished dream of playing at the World Cup.

And so naturally, people will feel let down by the result or put differently, Ghanaians will feel that the Stars have failed their part of the contract; but this conclusion could be wrong and perhaps hasty.

Ghanaians must not forget that the contract was to get Ghana through to the World Cup and not to beat Burkina Faso. Obviously, beating Burkina Faso or any other team would have given us the needed push for a good take off, but remember nothing good comes easy.

Perhaps what seems to have created more panic or a worrying situation among Ghanaian soccer fans is the fact that "old foes" South Africa, one of the strongest contenders for the only slot in the group won her first match with a narrow 2-1 over Cape Verde Island which has boosted their moral for a great show down against the Black Stars next weekend in Kumasi.

But this is where we as a country should be very cautious and map up a good strategy for that dream to be realised.

There is a philosophical saying that -" the unexamined life is not worth living"- that is why we need to re-examine what went wrong and take advantage of the free "periods" between now and the 20th and build the necessary cohesion for the crunch game.

The dream is still alive in spite of the loss and what the team needs most from Ghanaians is the encouragement and a little prayer plus the mental toughness from the players themselves and the believe that they can make it.

The players should take the statement made by Oheneba Charles last week at the presentation of 100 million cedis to the team by Guinness Ghana limited very seriously and should spur them on to perform. He said: "no player would be deemed to have arrived unless he features at the World Cup".

This statement is crucial and timely because players world over become psychologically satisfied, their ego enhanced and market value increased just by featuring at the World Cup. And Ghanaian players must not be left out.

The South Africans themselves are not having things easy judging from the way they had to struggle for that thin victory against minnows, Cape Verde Islands at their own backyard. But it does not mean we would have things easy.

The South African jinx was broken early this year albeit at the under-23 level with a Kwadwo Poku's lone goal at the Accra Sports Stadium and the Stars must take advantage of it for a great game next Sunday.

The Bafana Bafana are joined at the top of the six-country standings together with Uganda who beat DR Congo by a lone goal with Burkina Faso all on three points.

Don't wobble Stars, the battle has just begun, keep the hope alive.

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