By Mary Phillips
An African country will eventually win the upcoming World Cup and Ghana has been just one of the African countries to have impressed at World Cups in the past. Nicknamed the Black Stars, Ghana reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in South Africa in 2010.
In South Africa Ghana missed out on a semi-final place after losing a penalty shoot-out against Uruguay. Cruelly, Asamoah Gyan had missed a penalty in the last minute of extra-time, which, had he converted, would have taken Ghana to a World Cup semi-final against the Netherlands.
Cameroon and Senegal were the only other African teams before 2010 to have reached the World Cup quarter-finals. But the Africa Cup of Nations has been already won by Ghana on four occasions, in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982 – a record only equalled by Cameroon and only bettered by Egypt.
Ghana’s favourite sport is football, the top clubs play in the Glo Premier League and the game is overseen in the country by the Ghana Football Association.
The country also has a female international team, nicknamed the Black Queens. The origins of football in this West African nation are believed to date back to the late 1800s, when European merchants introduced the sport.
Ghana has produced a number of talented players who have played for major European clubs. These include the likes of Michael Essien, Asamoah Gyan, Kevin Prince-Boateng, Abedi Pele, Tony Yeboah, and Samuel Kuffour.
Abedi Pele holds the distinction, alongside Cameroon’s striker Samuel Eto’o, of being the only player to have been named African Footballer of the Year three times. Abedi Pele won the award on three successive occasions, in 1991, 1992, and 1993 respectively. In the 1970s, this award has been won by two other Ghanaian internationals Ibrahim Sunday and Karim Abdul Razak.
Kwesi Nyantakyi, president of the Ghana Football Association, was recently full of praise for a FIFA seminar that was held in South Africa to boost African football. Mr. Nyantakyi called the seminar “a huge success” concerning the development of football in Africa.
Meanwhile, Ghana’s sports minister, Elvis Ankrah, was bullish about his country’s chances of success in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Mr. Ankrah said that Ghana’s team is “unified”, and that “it is possible” for an African nation to claim football’s most prestigious trophy.
Legendary German coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, now boss of Switzerland, believes that Ghana can even triumph in Brazil – if they can be “consistent throughout”.
For all talent scouts and football fans curious to observe the spirit of Ghana’s football with their own eyes, it could be very interesting to see a match directly in Ghana.