Tag: ghana football


AFCON 2017: GHANA DRAWN IN GROUP D AND FACE FAMILIAR FOES

The Blackstars of Ghana have been drawn in Group D of AFCON 2017 alongside Egypt, Mali and Uganda as the draw was made yesterday in Libreville, Gabon.

Egypt, Ghana and Uganda will  be tired of the sight of each other having been drawn together in Group D only four months after they were placed in the same group for 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Seven-time African champions Egypt will be eager to revive their dominance after some years of under-performing, while Ghana are desperate to win their first title since 1982 and go one better than the runners-up spot they achieved last year and in 2012 and 1992.

Uganda’s last appearance at the tournament was in 1978, when they lost in the final to Ghana.

Gabon kick off the tournament on 14 January, with the final on 5 February.

The hosts appear to have been fortunate in the draw, pitched in Group A alongside debutants Guinea-Bissau, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.

This years competition has been described as the most open for years so promises to be an exciting team. Though one notable absentee are the 2013 winners Nigeria who failed to qualify.

The full group draw is as follows;

2017 AFCON – GROUP STAGES

Group A: Gabon (Hosts), Guinea-Bissau, Cameroon, Burkina Faso

Group B: Algeria, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Senegal

Group C: Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Morocco, Togo

Group D: Ghana, Egypt, Mali, Uganda

Will 2017 be the year Ghana finally end their 34 year wait for glory? Lets hope so!

Me FiRi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_Ghana)

The Ugliest Day of Ghana’s Beautiful Game: 15th Anniversary of the Accra Sports Stadium Disaster

5354030820799_5043073398733There are very few things which unite the Ghanaian people like football. There is a visceral, all-encompassing passion when it comes to the beautiful game – not only in Ghana, but worldwide. However, with such a game which has played host to numerous moments of unspeakable joy and celebration, there have also been moments which have encroached upon the very darkest parts of the human condition. Racism. Abuse. And most of all, death. Death found its way to Hillsborough and Heysel in the late 80s. And on the 9th of May 2001, death found its way to the 40000 all-seater Accra Sports Stadium (aka Ohene Djan Stadium). This week marks the 15th anniversary of the Accra Sports Stadium disaster on ‘Black Wednesday‘ which claimed the lives of 127 supporters.

Speak to any football fan and they will tell you that there are certain matches which peak interest unlike most of the others. Liverpool v United. Real Madrid v Barca. In Ghana, when the Accra Hearts of Oak go toe-to-toe with the Asante Kotoko, it’s a very big deal.

In such matches tensions are high as the tribalism and passion of the fans thunders through the atmosphere. You can feel it. You can taste it. And that fateful day in May was the same. Every tackle met with cheers of derision and accomplishment in equal measure. Until one refereeing decision proved to be one bone of discontentment too much for some. Hearts of Oak had scored two late goals to race into a 2-1 lead. This led to fans registering their displeasure by launching missiles onto the pitch – chairs, water bottles, etc.

The police decided to fight fire with fire and in an attempt to disperse the crowd, indiscriminately Accra-Sports-stadium-stampedefiring tear gas, rubber bullets and flashbangs into the throngs of people. A recipe for disaster. People in pain and distress now found themselves in a warzone, and everyone made a frantic bid for the exits. Fans couldn’t encroach onto the pitch because of the 2-meter high wire fences which were adorned with barbed wire – similar fences which had been outlawed in Europe post-Hillsborough.

So the fans made mad dashes down the six narrow stairways which led to the exits. The bottleneck effect was brutal, fans crushing against each other in panic. Amidst the mayhem and the bedlam, fans trampled over each other, everyone desperate to save their life. In turn, 127 individuals lost theirs. And countless others sustained injuries of various severities.

Locked gates. Narrow exits. It took too long to relieve the crush. Chests prevented from expanding. Those who had fallen did not have space to get back up. People had been trampled upon, piled up against each other. When all was said-and-done, the battle list read painfully. 117 died from traumatic asphyxia – having their chests crushed inward resulting in suffocation. 10 more died from stampede trauma. 148 children of the deceased are being catered for by a Stadium Disaster Fund.

Black Wednesday was a logistical catastrophe of errors on an unbelievable scale. Aggressive police were too hack-handed in their attempts at crowd control. There were inadequate numbers of safety staff, inadequate access for emergency services. The stadium originally built in the 1960s was not fit-for-purpose for the new millennium – a poorly-maintained concrete dinosaur which simply could not cope with the worst that sport can have to offer. 37 Military Hospital was unable to house all of the dead – and so instead of the 106 surplus bodies being shifted to other mortuaries, they were kept on the compound in inappropriate temperatures; already in a state of decomposition by the time collections began for burials.

sffasfafafThe Accra Sports Stadium disaster on Black Wednesday still stands as the deadliest stadium disaster in all African history. It’s very ironic that the 15th anniversary comes just a couple of weeks after the new Hillsborough inquiry ended – just 8 less people died on Black Wednesday than Hillsborough and Heysel combined. Yes, an official Ghanaian commission blamed police on duty for inciting the stampede through criminal negligence. But unlike Hillsborough, there is no ongoing inquest, no active fight for justice. Even today, 15 years on, and despite renovation in 2007, the Accra Sports Stadium still falls short in terms of structural safety. Most of the recommendations from the government-appointed commission’s report following the disaster have been ignored.

But for a country which remains so football-mad, we need to do more to safeguard future sporting fans. The Ghanaian government needs to learn lessons from the West, which has made great strides in learning from their past disasters to ensure there is no room for repeat. The 127 need to be remembered – a safer, more fit-for-purpose sporting environment would be a fitting legacy. For nobody should leave home to go to a football match, cheering on their favourite team, and never come back home.

“As I made my way towards the staircase, I froze,” reported Accra sports journalist Yawme Ampofo-Ankrah in the aftermath of Black Wednesday. “I saw something I will never forget for the rest of my life…the most appaling look of fear and hopelessness was written across the faces of dying innocent young men. They were dying and ther was nothing anybody could do to save them.” We have the means, the will, and the lessons in our nation’s chapter to learn from the disaster and ensure that there is hope for the future. That there will not be another one of Ghana’s sons or daughters in such a predicament ever again. We can save them now. For as the inscription on the memorial bronze statue outside the stadium reads, ‘[We are our] brother’s keeper’.

By Dr Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

AFCON 2015 Qualifier: Ghana 1 -1 Uganda

Ayew Penalty Salvages Draw for Black Stars as fans stay away in Kumasi

untitled

Ghana was forced to come from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with Uganda in its opening Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Saturday. The Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi was noticeably empty as fans decided to stay away after a dismal World Cup riddled with off-the-field problems.

Kwesi Appiah’s men made an unconvincing start to their qualifying campaign in Kumasi. Without Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng  (suspended indefinitely because of disciplinary problems) the host toiled against their opponents, ranked 45 places below it in the world.

After Tony Mawejje had given Uganda the lead at the end of the first half, Ghana was grateful to receive a controversial penalty that Andre Ayew confidently dispatched to earn the hosts a point

Ghana made the brighter start, and captain Asamoah Gyan was twice denied by fine saves from Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango. Those stops proved crucial on the stroke of halftime as Mawejje gave the visitors the lead with a shot from the edge of the area that bounced awkwardly in front of Fatau Dauda and flew into the corner.

Ghana reacted strongly at the start of the second half and was level in the 50th minute. Abdul Majeed Waris was judged to have been felled inside the box and, after protests from the Uganda players fell on deaf ears, Ayew sent his spot kick straight down the middle.

Uganda almost retook the lead immediately, but Dauda tipped Brian Umony’s low effort onto the post. Although Ghana had much the better of the final half an hour, Appiah’s men were unable to force a winner and will now travel to Togo for their next Group E qualifier Wednesday, while Uganda will host Guinea

 

Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_Ghana)

#LetsGoalG​hana: Disappoint​ment / Inspiratio​n / Hope / Belief

Confession: I just couldn’t do it

I couldn’t bring myself to write after our defeat against USA, amidst the feel-good motivation of Me Firi Ghana’s already exceptionally-successful #LetsGoalGhana campaign. Any spill from my downtrodden dreams and bruised emotions would have been profusely negative and contrary to the Let’s Goal Ghana message.

unnamed 4

You see, like most I was disappointed.

Disappointed in what I thought was a team selection which was arrogant and disrespectful to the USA team in equal measure.

Disappointed in finding our foundation of defensive discipline blown away in seconds – both from kick-off, and from the restart of the match after we had gotten back into the game.

Disappointed that we had seemingly gone from being seconds away from becoming the first African nation to enter the World Cup semi-finals, to potentially being on the plane back to Kotoka after only our second game.

Disappointed in wrong decisions being made during a game where the USA were there for the taking – wrong passes, wrong runs, wrong shots. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

And after watching Germany, World Cup specialists, dismantle Portugal effortlessly…well, things looked very ominous for us…

unnamed 5

In disappointment, one tends to seek inspiration. And my inspiration was found in the neck of the official Ghana football kit. Embroidered on it is the following message: ‘Stars represent hopes, dreams, legends. This shirt earned its stars with strength and courage. It’s stitched with the pride of Ghanaians everywhere. It’s built on the belief that anything can happen. Believing is in our nature.’ Inspiration. Inspiration triggered hope, and fuelled the inherent belief woven into the shirt.

The belief that anything can happen.

Post-USA game, #LetsGoalGhana underwent metamorphosis. It became a rallying call, picking up the crestfallen and reminding them that anything is possible! Reminding the despondent that believing is in our nature! That we earned the stars on our shirt with ‘strength and courage’ – and if we applied those traits to this game, who knows what we could achieve? That regardless of how things looked, it was not over!

Optimism amongst Ghana supporters blossomed as we watched reigning champions Spain, former masters of football, get taught a footballing lesson by Chile.Optimism grew when we watched Costa Rica, anointed the doormat of their group, qualify ahead of England, Italy and Uruguay. And just before our time underneath the World Cup lights presented itself again, we almost, almost, saw lowly Iran put the mighty Argentina to the sword. This was fast becoming a World Cup where anything was possible.

So we too had right to believe anything was possible when we finally took on Germany. Just as we had believed anything was possible when we were first drawn into the group of death. Disappointment. Found inspiration. Triggered hope. Fuelled belief.

unnamed 2

Where onlookers expected Ghana to arrive humbler, the Ghana team still entered the stadium as they always do: brave, loud, triumphant! They didn’t shy away from the monumental job at hand, to keep the German machine at bay. They didn’t quieten down their faith in fear of dashed hopes and the possibility of missed dreams. They came prepared to lay it all on the line.

And so it proved. Ghana crackled with attacking verve and creative class. The defence looked stronger, more purposeful. Germany thought they were meeting a team willing to roll-over and die, accepting the fate that most had already written in the stars for them. But they didn’t prepare themselves for Black Stars hungry to shine brighter than ever on the footballing world’s grandest stage. Disappointment. Found inspiration. Triggered hope. Fuelled belief.

unnamed 3

The pale imitators of the team we know and love had not made their way to the stadium this time. The real Ghana finally showed up on Saturday. In front of a viewing population of millions worldwide, the great entertainers of the World Cup turned up. And we gave the Germans a game. We gave them the shock of their lives. Where last tournament we granted them three points, this time we shared the spoils with one of the World’s best.

Following the draw, social media timelines effervesced with plaudits, praise & pride. Profile pictures proudly dripping in red, gold and green hue. Finally, we had arrived. The Ghana team, just like myself and the hopes of many of Ghana’s supporters, needed to get lost for a while before it was able to find itself again.

Now, as the dust settles in Fortaleza (after we produced what many are proclaiming to be the best match of the tournament so far) instead of disappointment in defeat, you have Ghanaians disappointed that we didn’t beat a team with legitimate claims to win the World Cup this year! Can you imagine? Our story has changed. Our objectives have shifted. Disappointment. Found inspiration. Triggered hope. Fuelled belief.

One more chapter of this group remains – let’s see how we write it. Be grateful, however, that in a game where most people didn’t give us a chance, and many Ghanaians had come to with little hope, our Black Stars have managed to give us our Licence to Dream again. For our third and final game in this Group of Death, let’s finish the job. Let’s shock the world again.

Let’s Goal Ghana!

Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

Ghana Black Stars; “Nana Nyam3 ne kura y3n”

So I am not an expert when it comes to football… and I probably only ever watch football when the Ghana Black Stars are playing so that’ll be mostly during the African Cup of Nations or when the World Cup is on- but TRUST me whenever the Black Stars are on the field I become an instant expert on all things related to football! In fact I become a self-proclaimed coach and referee at the same time! It’s all part of the excitement!

_68810152_01_ghana_reuters

It’s been 4 years since ‘SUALEZ’… I need not say anymore! Some of us have moved on and some will forever curse the day ‘SUALEZ’ decided to do some stretching ‘INSIDE DE GOAL’ in the final minutes of a heated semi-final! Hmm… and all you people out there who criticised Baby Jet, please go and volunteer to take the next penalty shot wai, after you have run around the field for 100 minutes! As I said earlier I don’t know very much about football but when people say things like ‘ahhh chale akoa w3i dy3 wonim ball bo kura oo, mon schw3 ne nai’, whilst they are chopping banku and fufuo with supermalt on the side I get irritated! I’m just saying!2014fifaworldcupbrazil_-Group-G-Germany-Ghana-Portugal-USA

Anyway… it’s 2014 and we’re back in the game taking on the world in BRAZIL – Group G… please let us all bow our heads in prayer; psalm 23:4 says ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’

Despite the fact that we have been placed in a very tough group, there’s hope my fellow Ghanaians, there is hope! The team spirit of the Black Stars alone is very encouraging and commendable. Watching videos of the boys singing and dancing before games is incredibly infectious and each time I join it ends up in a full-blown praise and worship session! NOW tell me which other team do you know of that can create such an atmosphere huh?!

With music playing a key role a number of Brazil 2014 campaign songs have recently been released in support of our Black Stars and one of my current favorites is titled Ghana Black Stars by Castro feat. Kofi Kinaata, check it out ya’ll! This track is on fire- it is very upbeat and brings together familiar tunes from recent hit singles such as ‘Adonai‘ and ‘Odo pa’.

Make sure you have all your gear in check; jerseys, flags and if you haven’t its not too late- go to Kumasi Market!!! Let’s all join in and continue to support our Ghana Black Stars with full ‘VIM’#LetsGoalGhana.

Nora Mistersky (@Ms_Nora_M)

Meet the Ghana World Cup Squad 2014: Introducing Michael Essien…

The Bison

Michael-Essien-006

When Michael Esseine takes to the field in Brazil for his second World Cup some may argue he is has a point to prove. Once considered one of the finest midfielders in the world there are many who say he is not the force he once was. Not to mention he was not among the Ghana World Cup squad in 2010 due to injury so missed out on the teams epic run to the quarter finals. The fact remains though that he is one of Ghana’s best and most experience players. He has enjoyed a career that a lot of players from the African continent can only dream of.

At his very best though he is a box-to-box midfielder with the ability to exert energy in supporting offensive and defensive play and for his tough tackling style which has earned him the nickname “The Bison”.Essien can also play as a defender, both on the right of defence and in the centre.

Essien began his career playing for Liberty Professionals in Ghana. In 2000, he moved to France joining Bastia. Essien spent three seasons at the club appearing in over 60 matches before joining league champions Olympique Lyonnais in 2003. At Lyon, Essien won back-to-back league titles between 2003-2005 and also played in the UEFA Champions League for the first time. In 2005, Essien signed for Chelsea for a fee of £24.4 million and, at the time of his signing, was the most expensive African footballer in history, but he remains Ghana’s most expensive footballer ever! At Chelsea, Essien helped the club win the Premier League twice, as well as three FA Cups and one Football League Cup. He later signed a season-long loan deal with Real Madrid in 2012, linking him up with José Mourinho, the manager who signed him for Chelsea. Once the loan spell ended he returned to Chelsea but later joined AC Milan in a permanent deal at the beginning of the year.

Essien is a seasoned Ghanaian international. At youth level, he represented his country at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship and 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship with the latter team finishing as runner-up. Essien made his senior team debut in January 2002 and has represented his nation at three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where Ghana reached the Round of 16. He has racked up over 50 caps for Ghana since 2002 and has captained the side several times over that period.

Ghana will need Essien at his best in Brazil. The Bison can certainly bite back!

Michael Essien, Me Firi Ghana salutes you!

#LetsGoalGhana

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

Meet the Ghana World Cup Squad 2014: Introducing Jonathan Mensah

The heir apparent!

19617218

Not to be confused with his namesake John Mensah, Jonathan Mensah is seemingly the heir apparent to the former.  Going by the name Jonathan on his jersey in 201o to avoid confusion with the then Captain John Mensah , he will have no such worries this year as the former captain was not included in the squad this time round. The more than capable defender will relishing his second world cup this time as certain starter as opposed to cover for the defensive partner ship of John Mensah/Isaac Vorsah four years ago.

Jonathan joined Free State Stars in the 2008 off-season and was signed from Ghanaian side Ashanti Gold.In January 2010, after joining Udinese, Jonathan moved to Spanish club Granada on loan. In July 2011, Jonathan moved to newly promoted French Ligue 1 side Evian for an undisclosed fee.

During the 2012-13 season, Jonathan struggled with fitness and form. He played six games with the reserve side in the Championnat de France Amateur level 2. Jonathan returned to the first team in 2013, and featured in the club’s opening game of the 2013-14 Ligue 1 campaign, playingthe full ninety minutes in the club’s 1-1 draw with Sochaux in August 2013.

Jonathan’s International career started in 2009, he was in the Ghana team for the under 20 youth championshipin Kigali and helped Ghana win the  tournament Jonathan’s performances during this competition earned him a call-up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where he was given the number 8 shirt usually worn by Michael Essien.Jonathan established himself as a central defensive partner for John Mensah in the absence, through injury, of first-choice centre back Isaac Vorsah. Jonathan played in two out of the three group stage games for Ghana at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and also in the round of 16 win against United States.

After an impressive World Cup in 201o, Jonathan will be hoping for a even better one this year.

Jonathan Mensah, Me Firi Ghana salutes you!

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

Meet the Ghana World Cup Squad 2014: Introducing Samuel Inkoom….

Mr Versatile!

Samuel+Inkoom+USA+v+Ghana+2010+FIFA+World+buSwd6ZPbvRl

 

The Ghanaian right back Samuel Inkoom is one of the survivors of the 2010 World Cup squad. In fact he was in the starting 11 which took to the field in Johannesburg to play Uruguay in that epic quarter final. Four years on and he is almost a certainty to start Ghana’s group games given the experience he has built up over the years not to mention his talent.

Inkoom is a right back by trade but can also play wing back in a 3-5-2 system or also right wing in a standard 4-4-2 system. Its versatility like this that may prove vital if Ghana want to progress to the latter stages of the tournament. Having made his first appearance for the senior team in 2008 and played at U-17 and U-20 level, Inkoom knows the rigours of international football.

He began his career in Ghana. In 2009 he moved from Asante Kotoko to FC Basel in the Swiss Premier Legaue on a three-year contract. He made his Basel debut in a 2–0 defeat to FC St. Gallen in July 2009. He was a member of their double trophy winning team in 2010, which included the Swiss Championship and domestic cup.

In 2011 Inkoom moved to FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk of Ukraine where he remains today. However In February 2013 Inkoom moved to Bastia on a loan deal for the rest of the 2013-14 season.The following season Inkoom was on the move again on six-month loan, this time to Greek club Platanias in January 2014.

With 44 caps for Ghana he is one of the most experienced defender in the squad at the age of just 25! His experience will be vital if Ghana are to qualify from a tricky group.

Samuel Inkoom, Me Firi Ghana salutes you!

#LetsGoalGhana

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

Meet the Ghana World Cup Squad 2014: Introducing Adam Kwarasey…

A Safe pair of hands!

 

Adam-Larsen-Kwarasey-

Adambathia Larsen Kwarasey is quietly cementing himself as Ghana’s first choice keeper ahead of the likes of Fatau Dauda and Stephen Adams. His recent excellent performance against the Netherlands in Rotterdam will do his chances of starting in the World Cup no harm at all. He was arguably Ghana’s best player and kept the scoreline to a respectable 1-0.

Born in Oslo to a Ghanaian father and a Norwegian mother ,the 6ft 3 inch Kwarasey started out playing youth football with Trosterud and Vålerenga in Norway.After moving to Strømsgodset, he made his debut in May 2007. Kwarasey was the captain of the club when Strømsgodset in 2013 won the Norwegian league titltle for the first time since 1970.He also won the Kniksen Award as the best goalkeeper in the 2013 season. It was in November 2007 that Kwarasey declared that he would play international football for Ghana,  even though he would later play a friendly match for the Norway under-21’s.

In October 2010, Kwarasey received his Ghanaian passport and became eligible to play for Ghana.On 30 July 2011, Kwarasey was called up tothe Ghana national team for a match against Nigeria. That match was postponed due to security reasons,although Kwarasey confirmed his intention to become Ghana’s first-choice goalkeeper. He made his international debut for Ghana in September 2011 in an 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Swaziland,before playing in a friendly match against Brazil at Craven Cottage in London three days later.

Kwarasey was named to Ghana’s 23-man squad for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations but did not play a match as Kwesi Appiah favoured Fatou Dauda at the time much to the surprise of many observers. However this time around he looks to have found form at the right time and is favourite to be first choice between the sticks for Brazil.

Adam Kwarasey, Me Firi Ghana salutes you!

See below for  Kwarasey in fine form in  a friendly against Brazil!

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

Meet the Ghana World Cup Squad 2014: Introducing James Kwesi Appiah….

The Boss!

 

appiah

James Kwesi Appiah goes into the 2014 World Cup as the first Ghanaian manager (our previous two being Serbian) to take Ghana to a World Cup finals. Even with Ghana being in the toughest World Cup group (according to FIFA rankings) the pressure is on the 53 year old to ensure Ghana at least reach the second round following the rollercoaster ride to the quarter finals in 2010 and the disappointing African Nations Cup campaign last year.

Often much derided by the Ghanaian press there are signs that Appiah is creating a new type of harmony within the squad and could get the best of returning players such as Michael Essien and Kevin Prince Boateng.

Appiah has pedigree in the Ghanaian game. He played as a left back, for Asante Kotoko, between 1983 and 1993. He won 5 caps for the Ghanaian national team between 1987 and 1992. Including two appearances FIFA World Cup qualifying matches where he also captained the team.

During his coaching education he received technical training from both Manchester City and Liverpool. He later became Ghana’s assistant coach between 2007 and 2012. So he knows the players inside out and has also been astute in bringing through some of the younger players in the squad.

He was appointed as the Head coach of the Ghanaian national team in April 2012 when at the time he wasn’t confident on his chances of landing the job even though the media were. He guided Ghana safely through qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil by topping their initial qualifying group. However the real triumph over his critics was overseeing a 6-1 demolition of Egypt in the final qualifying round which all but booked Ghana’s place in Brazil  He was given a new two-year contract in May 2014.

James Kwesi Appiah, Me Firi Ghana salutes you!

#LetsGoalGhana

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@kwesitheauthor)