FIFA U-20: Ghana’s young warriors

D. Opare“Young men, help me, do help me! I love my country so; That is why I am fighting” ~ Sitting Bull

Let me start by congratulating the Black Satellites for qualifying to the semi-finals of the 2009 FiFA Youth Championships. Ghana’s 3-2 win against Korea did not come with a silver platter. Everyone with some football knowledge could easily predict how the Koreans will come running at Ghana. What the pundits could not predict was that Korea was on a mission of taking complete dominance of the game to give Ghana her hardest battle yet since the qualifiers. To sum up this game in one phrase – What a heart-throbbing game? I doubt if there is anyone (Korean, Ghanaian or Neutral) watching this game who did not miss one or two heart beats.

Try as they did – huffing and puffing for well over 93 minutes, the Koreans could not run hard enough; possess the ball long enough or shoot hard enough to out do the resilient Black Satellites. Ghana came into the game with a strategy of slowing down the game and taking the Koreans by surprise. Perhaps Ghana’s coach had hoped that after taking the first punch, the Korean flames will be doused once and for all. How wrong was he? His plan worked, but the Koreans never gave up. They kept pounding on the defensive doors with every arsenal in their possession. Finally, after what turned out to be a battle of wills more than wits Ghana won narrowly.

The ‘experts’ are at it again, tearing the Ghanaian team apart for putting up its worse performance ever. But I do not think so. Having followed the progress of this team, I am well aware that this is not a team that boasts of champagne football. Once a while you get them playing like Arsenal. But in general, this team is about results not process.

Given all the negatives that are being brought out about team Ghana, I have chosen to focus on an aspects of Ghana’s game which distinguishes Black Satellites 2009 from the other teams in this tournament and perhaps other Black Satellite teams.

Team Ghana has one of the toughest spirits I have come across in a long while. This is the spirit which ought to characterize all Ghanaian teams. Very often our teams have chickened out too early in important games. Such teams have always usually relied on individual brilliance of one or two players. Once such players fail to glitter, the entire team crumbles. So far, Ghana’s fighting spirit has been top class. Every one of those players are warriors.

It was Edward Tick who mentioned that among others, a warrior is an assertive, active and energized person. He or she is clear-minded, strategic, and alert. A warrior uses both body and mind in harmony and cooperation. “A warrior is disciplined. A warrior assesses both his own skills and resources and those of his opponent. A warrior is devoted to causes he judges to be more important than himself or any personal relationships or gain. Having confronted death, a warrior knows how precious life is and does not abuse or profane it”

These boys are more than warriors! Marshaled under the astute leadership of Andre Dede Ayew, Black Satellites 2009 has risen over its numerous formational problems (of alleged bribery, poor technical bench etc) to become one of the top 4 youth teams of the world with a chance to produce the golden boot player in Dominic Adiyiah.

Together with the spoils, every battle has its costs and the Ghana 3:2 Korean game did not come without costs. Although medical reports are not yet out, Ghana’s brightest attack initiator and wing back Daivd Nii Addy could be out of the semi-final due to injury. Again Ghana is bound to lose the services of central defender Jonathan Mensah. The real challenge of the Semi-finals may not be which country Ghana comes up against, but how Ghana nurses its wounds and sharpens its sword for battle not withstanding these setbacks.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that Ghana’s ability to hold its own in this tournament. Well, you got your answer tonight.

Pictures From: Getty Images


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