(A GNA feature by Veronica Commey)
Accra, Jan 16, GNA - "In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these", Paul Harvey.
It's easy to be despaired when times get rough and tough and the future appears almost bleak, but there is always a reason to look back at experiences just to have a ray of hope of succeeding.
Many soccer fans have thrown in the towel following the Black Stars chain of defeats ahead of the biannual Nations Cup competition pencilled for Egypt to kick starts on Sunday, January 22.
After the teams' qualification to a maiden World Cup summit appearance, it was a natural phenomenon that the euphoria that greeted it, would stay big especially with having also excelled in international friendlies against the likes of Senegal and Saudi Arabia. Until the recent success, being pitted against Nigeria in a group phase would previously have been viewed as a tall order. Even prior to the two defeats to Togo and Tunisia, the enthusiasm about the Ghanaians chances remained highflying; albeit a difference that only injuries and the defeat could have made.
As fans so often do, the panic buttons are being pressed and suggestions about which player must have made the squad from the 22 million Ghanaian 'soccer coaches' are soaring.
But the Egypt task remains surmountable! Ghana yearns for a fifth title with or without Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan and accomplishing the dream cannot be seen as impossible. The two friendlies luckily exposed the loopholes in the team, hoisting the podium for the technical handlers to trim the rough edges for a smoother campaign.
The current team may boast of majority of the victorious World Cup squad, but yet again include a few new ones who require time to settle into a cohesive team.
Undisputedly the World Cup squad could not even be seen as one of the talented the country had seen in time past, but to have been able to compensate their short comings with an enviable team work is a plus they can ride on to the desired destination.
The team proved that it's never what you have, but rather what you do with what you have that makes all the difference by collectively supporting each other all through the qualifiers.
It's imperative that one does not only elevate the hopes of Ghanaians, but it's equally appropriate that the boys are trusted. After losing the first qualifier against Burkina Faso they rallied back and raised the bar of excellence to win the group with some glittering performances.
It reminds me of a fighting spirit. A character Brazil and Germany taught the world prior to the Japan/Korea summit when they qualified through the play off and yet defied the odds, forcing pundits to rewrite the scripts with a grand finale appearance.
It is a trait Serbian Ratomir Djukovic and his charges exhibited when South Africa jumped into the lead in the qualifiers and looked favoured as the competition reached the crescendo.
If only the Stars can be provoked by the loss and crave to overturn the tables by fighting with the needed commitment just to demonstrate that the current crop of players are capable of dealing with any opponent no matter the calibre of players, Ghanaians could be smiling in Egypt.
The boys are capable of letting the pride associated with toppling Nigeria and other super powers arouse their thirst for honours. Without Gyan, the striking force is depleted but not impotent. Mathew Amoah proved a clinical finisher all through the qualifiers and Louis Agyemang and others could easily compliment his effort with a common purpose to duty with an unyielding character that is willing to die to chalk success when it matters most.
Essien's supremacy and Muntari's flair that proved decisive in previous games would be missed, but it equally presents an opportunity for Yakubu Abukari, Hamza Mohammed and Haminu Dramani to prove why they deserved an inclusion in the team and creates the platform for creative Laryea Kingston and skipper extraordinaire, Stephen Appiah to yet again confirm why Ghana was peerless in the qualifiers.
If only Doya and his men would do a profound soul searching, they would realise that "what lies before and behind them are tiny matters, compared to what lies within them" to quote Oliver Windell Holmes. The coach surely has some reorganization to do at the wingbacks, where Addoquaye Pappoe and John Painstil gave many a reason to rethink as well as the midfield that only existed because Appiah chose to work extra hard with the almost dead attacking machinery being mere passengers when it mattered most, but the task still remains surmountable!
There may be brighter light at the end of the tunnel and so lets keep the hope aglow. Chaoo!