At the dawn of every New Year, it is common place for people to dream up what prospects await. With regards to football, the questions will be frequently posed: How will Ghana fare on the football map? Who will emerge winners in Ghana’s bitterest football rivalries?
African Cup of Nations
For us Africans, 2012 will start in a whirlwind fashion as 16 clubs battle for that African Holy Grail at the Orange CAF African Nations Cup to be hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea at the end of January 2012. Some 20 odd years ago, as a high school kid, I was devastated when Ivory Coast virtually stole what had been virtually destined to be Ghana’s fifth Nation’s Cup title.
Posterity’s balancing act being what it is, captain of the 1992 squad, Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, has two sons in the current squad. Vice captain of the 1992 squad, Kwasi Appiah, is the deputy head of the technical team. Edward Ansah, one of the goalkeepers in 1992, is now the goalkeepers coach. Destiny cannot be wicked to these fine gentlemen twice!
Despite Asamoah Gyan’s injury scare; the threat posed by the North Africans, Senegal and the noisy neighbour Ivory Coast notwithstanding, the Black Stars should be able bring home what was rightfully Ghana’s as far back as 20 years.
International Age-Category Tournaments
The future of Ghana football, Black Starlets (U-17), have been placed in the hands of two coaches who have spent the last 5 years struggling to keep their jobs, let alone build winsome teams – Paa Kwasi Fabin and Isaac Adade Boateng. I will gladly stuff my belly with some humble pies if the 2013 Black Starlets turn out to be anything close to the 1991, 1993 and 1995 generation.
The saying goes that: ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try again’. Orlando Wellington will have another go with the Black Satellites (U-20). Hopefully, this time around, he will be firm enough to scout his own players and use them as he pleases. With such a huge pool of talent both at home and abroad, Wellington cannot fail the second time in a row.
Two reasons make me have hope for women’s football this year. First, local women’s football competitions have been revamped. Much more talent will bud and get drafted into national teams. Secondly, the current crop of young girls representing Ghana at senior level are some of the most experienced female footballers around; having represented Ghana in several competitions around the world since they were 9 years.
There are 18 games and one more transfer window left to decide The Glo Premiership title. Although Kotoko are leading the table, their away form will be their ‘Achilles Tendon’. On the bases of their rear guard superiority and the possibility of grabbing goal machine Emmanuel Baffour, I see Hearts of Oak stealing the title at the very depth.
Champions Berekum Chelsea will not go down without a fight but, like Wa All Stars and Dwarfs, they will have to make do with Top 4 places. What of the battle to survive relegation? Wassaman Utd, Berekem Arsenals, Mighty Jets, AshantiGold and Bechem United will have to fight for survival. It seems Bechem and Wassaman are beyond salvation.
With the MTN FA Cup holders, Nania FC, disappointingly out of contention just in the first round, the floodgates are open for others to have the honour. Division I side Accra Great Olympics will fancy their chances, but I tip Berekum Chelsea to lift this cup with Asante Kotoko and Wa All Stars putting up a fierce challenge.
CAF Club Competitions
Berekum Chelsea have been busy buying any player with half-decent quality in the name of building a solid squad for the Champion’s League. Chelsea’s secret is a midfield which is unrivalled by Ghana standards. If Coach Van der Plume can work on their big game temperament, Chelsea will have a realistic chance of making it pass the group stages.
Legendary Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew’s Nania FC on the other hand does not have problems with the big stage. A decent showing in the CAF Confederation Cup can be expected from Abedi Pele’s side. Winning it will be a tall order.