Ghana controversy damages African hopes of image change
Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari have been sent home for disciplinary reasons as Ghana, who were the continent’s form team coming into the tournament, were plunged deeper into crisis just hours before they attempt to stay in the World Cup in their final group game against Portugal.
It added to an image of squabbling players and officials more interested in the cash rewards of the World Cup than achieving success on the field, entrenching stereotypes Africa had been hoping to dispel in Brazil.
Ghana, who must beat Portugal in Brasilia on Thursday to stand any chance of reaching the last 16, have been in crisis since the start of week, boycotting training to force payment of promised money which arrived at their hotel on Wednesday.
Brazilian television showed pictures on Thursday of defender John Boye kissing a wad of dollars and other images of an unidentified official handing out cash from a large envelope.
Media reports said the players had received between $75,000 and 100,000 each after the country’s president flew over $3 million to appease the mutinous players, who wanted payment in cash rather than by electronic transfer.
Almost predictably, Cameroon became the first side mathematically eliminated after a 4-0 loss to Croatiain their second group game during which key midfielder Alex Song was sent off for a needless elbow in the back of an opponent to become the seventh Cameroonian red-carded at a World Cup.
Recriminations have begun in the Ivory Coast after their first-round elimination, with coach Sabri Lamouchicriticised by the media for his tactical decisions in the 2-1 loss to Greece in Fortaleza on Tuesday.
Algeria‘s World Cup campaign has been overshadowed by constant sniping between coach Vahid Halilhodzic and the country’s media.
Halilhodzic has accused reporters of trying to undermine his side and not wanting them to win while the press see him as arrogant and flippant.
The panacea remains victory and Nigeria‘s progress to the knockout round came without any dissent or incident.
That is no coincidence with strong-willed coach Stephen Keshi at the helm, but he has had to deal with issues since Nigeria won the African Nations Cup 18 months ago, including the sacking of some of his backroom staff and not paying his wages for six months.
Sadly for the continent, that has not happened.