(GNA Sports feature by Wilhelm Gaitu, Ho)
Ho, (V/R) Jan. 19, GNA - Many Ghanaian football fans seem to have ruled out the Black Stars out of contention in this year's Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to kick-off in Egypt on Friday, January 20. This unfortunate lack of faith in the team came all of a sudden following the reported serious injuries to such key players as Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan who constitute the essential cogs in coach Ratomir Dujkovic's game plan and strategies for the tournament.
The general feeling of despondency towards the chances of the Stars was accentuated by the defeats they suffered in their trail matches against Togo and Tunisia, which was an attempt by Dujkovic to test his quick-fix team to be battle ready and to smoothen the team's rough edges. There is no doubt that the Black Stars technical team was itself taken off guard by the sudden unfortunate development regarding the negative effects of injuries on the team's final preparations. While Ghanaians are apparently jolted by the situation, there is no doubt that the Black Stars opponents in their group, especially the Super Eagles of Nigeria would be relishing what they see as a weakening of the Stars, who have over the years proved to be the Achilles heels of the Nigerians.
I dare say, however, that the Black Stars are capable of proving the sceptics wrong as they had done on previous occasions when after been ruled out of contention in previous Nations Cup competitions, they came out as the ultimate winners.
The Stars for example in 1982 in Libya were not given a dog's chance to survive that tournament when a new crop of young players like Albert Assase and Kofi Badu and others did the nation proud by winning the Cup at stake for the fourth time.
Perhaps it is good that the Stars should be going through these moments of anxiety and uncertainty at this time even though the developments might seem negative, the negative acts could do well to motivate those who would have the honour to don the national colours to play above themselves as a total team and prove themselves worthy of the nation's call.
The situation also provides a useful lesson to the technical bench to be flexible in fashioning out its strategy for team selection and play in a manner that would give the chance to every eligible player to fit in the game plan.
What the team requires now is for it to be psychologically psyched up through messages of confidence and pep talks from the handlers. As a nation, we should therefore not be too quick in throwing in the towel over the performance of the team for as it is said, "It is not over till it's over".
Now is an opportune time for Ghanaian football fans to demonstrate the spirit of "Never say die until the bones are rotten", a la Hearts of Oak and "Wo kum apem, apem be ba", courtesy Kumasi Asante Kotoko, slogans of two leading clubs in the country.
There is every reason why the Black Stars will have to conquer all they survey and bring home the Golden Fleece once more, since history repeats itself.