Where was this focus when we needed it a few months back? The Black Meteors qualified for the All Africa Games in September Sunday by beating “The Dream Team” from Nigeria. For the Nigerians, who have qualified for the next qualifying phase for the more prestigious London Olympics next year, this was more Nightmare on Yaa Asantewa Road than Elm Street. It was a chance to affirm their progression in the London 2012 qualifiers and for further preparation as they look to repeat their Gold winning performance of 1996. The ‘Dreamers’ will however take solace in the fact that their neighbors will be sitting in front of the TV cursing their luck for not beating Sudan in April no chance to join them in London.
Technically, this was a draw, 3-3 with the away goal Ghana scored in Lagos the only thing that separates the two teams. Ghanaians won’t want to hear that explanation. This was redemptive. So while we will never stop licking our collective wounds at the failure to go to London, this is akin to applying Gentian Violet to them. It is an opportunity to brag another day and add another winning chapter in our storied rivalry with Nigeria. As I said in an earlier post, even if these two countries played at the toddler level, they would want to beat each other ‘well well.’
After recent failures of youth teams in qualifying for international tournaments, the Meteors fought like dogs to qualify. Led by top dog Samuel Inkoom whose old school ‘I’ll die for my country even if it means giving up money‘ commitment cannot be questioned, the Meteors scored two unanswered goals in either half. They were cheered on by the equally encouraging Kumasi crowd who had previously assured victory should the match venue be changed. Back to Inkoom, in this age of spoilt diva ish players, it is encouraging to see young players like Inkoom, Agyemang Badu and Dede Ayew speak of and back up their ‘undying love’ for their country anytime they step on the field. They pass the eye test in determining their patriotism. Whenever they are on the pitch mistakes or not, you never get the sense they’re giving anything less than 150 percent.
Coach Akwasi Appiah also redeemed himself after a couple of poor results in charge of the Black Stars against Sudan last year and the 3-1 loss in Nigeria in charge of the Meteors a fortnight ago. The flood of criticisms that local coaches have had to endure recently should subside – until the next loss.
The only outstanding issue is when the Nigerians started calling any team of theirs the dream team. And I thought the closest our Anago friends got to a Dream Team was when basketball star Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon suited up for the US Olympic team in 1996. Oh well, to hallucinate is human I guess.