Stars Lose Shine Against Bafana Bafana

The Black Stars lost 1-0 to South Africa yesterday in what was a frustrating performance to watch at times. My attitude before the game was that this was a friendly so it didn’t really matter who won. However, in the first half the competitive spirit kicked in and I found myself wanting to win as though it were a World Cup match and getting annoyed at every misplaced pass-and there were many. South Africa dominated the first half and deservedly took the lead in the 41st minute through Katlego Mphela. The second half was more competitive. Milovan Rajevac made many changes and everyone got a run. Unknown quantities Cofie Bekoe,  Yaw Antwi and Bright Addae introduced themselves to Ghanaians and registered their first cap. Bekoe was quick, skillful and with more experience and control could be an effective player. I can see why Rajevac would be intrigued by him. One thing I thought we missed at the World Cup was a player who could be introduced to change the pace of the game and run at tired defenders. Quincy Owusu-Abeyie could have been that player but his bad decision making means Rajevac has probably soured on him. It was hard to judge the others but Antwi was also forceful in a number of situations and I could sense why Milo invited him. On one play he tracked back and won the ball just into the Black Stars half. In Rajevac’s Black Stars every single player has defensive responsibility so even that small contribution will not go unnoticed.

It is safe to say that we will see some of these players again in the future as Rajevac revamps his squad.



"Baby Jet" returns to South Africa for Bafana Bafana friendly Photo Credit: Senyuiedzorm Adadevoh


Every Sunday many Ghanaians grace the halls of churches to remember the Lord and give thanks for life’s blessings. Wednesday night, the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg will serve as the venue for such thanks for many a Black Stars player. A little over a month after exiting the World Cup, Ghana takes on South Africa in a friendly that is as much about the past as the future.

The Black Stars will play in front of an audience that embraced them as they carried Africa’s hopes. The match is also about those players that represented the country then but may no longer be in coach Milovan Rajevac’s plans. Stephen Appiah, Sulley Muntari and Matthew Amoah headline the list of absentees for this friendly. But even as the squad evolves, it is never too late reminisce on South Africa 2010.

Let’s start with the painful or as it were, THE END.

“Oh ASAMOAH!” is how a friend looking sullen and with his head in his hands put it a day after losing to Uruguay. Need I say more? It was probably the most painful defeat we’ve known because of the occasion and the possibilities of making history. And yes the 6-1 Bochum disaster and the Tlemcen debacle pale in comparison.

Of course, a few days before that terrible feeling, Ghanaians were on clouds we didn’t know existed, the high propelling us to dream of destinations unimagined. A semi-final berth against the Dutch or Brazil was within reach and we all contemplated it. Could it be? It couldn’t but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to celebrate Asamoah Gyan’s stunning left foot strike against the USA in extra time. Every time I watch that goal on television, I want to dance like Gyan but find my dancing skills are more limited.

That game against the USA was the game that almost wasn’t though. A 1-0 loss to Germany in the last game of the group stages meant we had to rely on the resilience of Australia in beating Serbia. Has a loss ever been celebrated as much as that one?

And while our listless display against Australia was quickly forgotten our win against Serbia was rousing and put us in position to come out of the group.

These memories will always remain with us but will recede and hopefully be replaced by even sweeter ones. 

Soon Ghana will embark on journeys to African Cups of Nations in 2012 and 2013 as well as the World Cup in 2014. May the lessons of South Africa be learned and improvements made so that the next generation of footballers grant us the pleasure of fulfilling our wildest dreams.

So, win, lose, or draw against the South Africans, let’s remember their hospitality and may Asamoah Gyan do the Samba in Brazil.



Asamoah Gyan and Dede Ayew return to Soccer City, the scene of their Quarter Final heartbreak Photo Credit: Senyuiedzorm Adadevoh


Ghana will take on South Africa next week with a mix of the old and new, familiar and unknown.  The World Cup quarter finalists have retained several players integral to their success during the Mundial. 

But Coach Milovan Rajevac who is reportedly close to renewing his contract with Ghana has included a few new faces as the squad that affectionately became known as ‘Baghana Baghana’ returns to the venue of their triumph. In what will be a homecoming of sorts, the 18-man squad will be composed of recognizable faces like Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew, Kevin Prince Boateng, Anthony Annan, Kwadwo Asamoah and Asamoah Gyan.

Some of the more conspicuous omissions are Sulley Muntari and Stephen Appiah who were inconsistent contributors in the Stars’ campaign this South African winter. Muntari in particular had a mixed competition marked by a well-publicized confrontation with Rajevac. The most vivid memory of him in the end was one of redemption as his wonder strike put Ghana ahead at half time against Uruguay. Add Hans Adu Sarpei and John Paintsil to the list of absentees and you’ve got the makings of a changing squad for the future. Two young players who are very much a part of Rajevac’s plans and were originally invited were Isaac Vorsah and Prince Tagoe. Unfortunately, Vorsah’s brother died after the competition and the two Hoffenheim FC players have only now joined the German club in their preseason preparations.

The match will represent an opportunity for the Stars to say thanks to the South African public for their support in the just-ended World Cup. But a thank you tour alone it is not. Ghana Football Association spokesperson Randy Abbey says a full strength South Africa will be an important test when the Stars start their qualification to the African Cup of Nations.

Abbey says, “the overriding principle is that we are playing the Nations Cup qualifiers in September and our first opponent is Swaziland and they have a similar style to South Africa.” Acknowledging that South Africa is a stronger foe than the Swazis, he added that South Africa would be a good opponent.”

Unfortunately the South African public will again be robbed of the qualities of superstar Michael Essien who missed the World Cup due to injury. He has been excused as he continues to make his way back to full fitness.

An off the radar inclusion will be Cofie Bekoe of Petrojet Sporting Club in Egypt. Leading up to the World Cup, another Bekoe, Eric was on the lips of many Ghanaian fans. But on a scouting trip to see Eric, Rajevac in a twist of fate was left more impressed with Cofie. Little is known about Cofie Bekoe but he is an attacking midfielder with an eye for goal. He is a product of Abedi Pele’s Nania Football Club.

Late last week, the South African Football Association was concerned that the Ghanaians would bring a much-weakened side. SAFA Chief Executive Leslie Sedibe was quoted as saying, “the contract stipulates stiff penalties for Ghana should they renege on the guarantee to bring the nucleus of the team.”

Abbey says talk that Ghana would bring an entirely new squad without many of its World Cup team is false.

The squad list should put paid to fears by the South African authorities. And barring any withdrawals due to injury or other unforeseen circumstances, the 18-man squad is as follows.

GKS: Richard Kingson, Daniel Agyei,

Defenders: John Mensah, Jonathan Mensah, Samuel Inkoom, Harrison Afful, Lee Addy,

Midfielders: Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew, Anthony Annan, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Kwadwo Asamoah, Cofie Bekoe, Bernard Yao Kumordzi, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu

Strikers: Asamoah Gyan, Dominic Adiyiah, Yaw Antwi, Haminu Draman