A vigorous campaign has been waged by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to ignite support for the Black Stars ahead of the start of the Cameroon 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The passion-igniting campaign, aimed at galvanising a dogged, unflinching support for the Stars and pluck back some love for the team, is expected to be launched soon.
Players, coaches and executives of the GFA have already taken centre stage in the #BringBackTheLove campaign - the FA having partnered some media outfits to drive the agenda. Though the crusade is not exclusively on the Stars, there is no smidgen of doubt that they are the major attraction.
Ghana will slot it out with South Africa's Bafana Bafana in their Nations Cup qualifying opener at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium on Thursday November 14, 2019, and take on Sao Tome, four days later on enemy territory.
In all sincerity, the campaign is in order as public affection for the Stars has slumped rather considerably, to the extent that sometimes when they are in action right here in Ghana, only a few are bothered.
A story is told of a tear-jerking display of apathy by Ghanaians when the Stars were playing against Uganda in a 2018 World Cup qualifier at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.
Though the game was being telecast live, known football-mad fans around the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, only walked past the giant TV screen showing the game at a nearby pub.
Ordinarily, a good number of the traders would have abandoned their wares - even if for a minute, to catch a glimpse of their beloved players. No more! Nobody really cares now!
Truth is, the players' own distressing lust for money and the concomitant lethargic performance, have viciously combined to portray a pathetic picture of lack of patriotism.
It used to be a perception. Now, the fans think it is increasingly becoming a reality!
The Brazil 2014 World Cup tournament, where the Black Stars were humiliatingly flushed out in the opening round, may have happened five years ago. Sadly, the ugly happenings of that ill-fated campaign appeared to be freshly etched on the minds of Ghanaians.
The money-kissing-orgy, holding of the nation to ransom, and the crass show of indiscipline, have all cascaded into snowball of near-hate for the Stars.
Doubtless, it shows why the 'Bring Back the Love' campaign is all-too necessary.
Nonetheless, players of the Black Stars must be told in plain, unadulterated language to change their attitude and put Ghana first if they really want to win back the love of Ghanaians.
This, particularly, has to show on the field of play where Ghanaians expect the players to demonstrate great derring-do, be prepared to die out of exhaustion rather than give up, and must have a winning mentality always embossed on their minds as they go about their businesses.
For now, the Stars have not exhibited that kind of passion and doughty character enough, which is why the players have come under an amperage of criticism over time for the monies they pocket as winning bonuses.
It is worthy to recall that some of the players themselves felt the shame and the strong rejection back home, promising to turn a new leaf - when they returned from the Brazil 2014 fiasco. But has anything really changed? Ghanaians are the best judge!
As GFA President Kurt Okraku and his contingent campaign to caress back the love, it would also not be out of place for them to 'badger' on the players to show enough sense of commitment and valour on the pitch. The FA’s drive may not be bad, but it cuts no ice if players would still play as if they are rather doing the nation a favour.
They must be told that success can only be achieved only if they have the resolute mindset, commitment and competence, et al. They have to leave illuminatingly fresh memories on the pitch anytime they don the Red-Gold-and-Green.
It is true that the Stars have not won the Nations Cup for the past 37 years; but once they trot onto the field in national colours, they ought to play like champions. Yes, champions!
Champions are champions, not because they are necessarily the most physically able or the most physically talented side. Champions are champions because they honour their commitment. When they set out to do something they do it, without fail, without trepidation, without question – but with certainty. That is why they are champions.
Unlike Ghana who have clinched the continental Holy Grail four times, Senegal are yet to lay hands on one. Yet, they play like champions whenever they have the opportunity to don their national colours.
A typical example was the sterling, chocolate-box performance they put up during their 1-0 loss to Algeria in this year’s Nations Cup final in Egypt.
Indeed, our players must put commitment at the forefront of their game any day, anywhere.
A committed player, as they say, has the inner voice of a champion – as they keep working, keep moving, keep playing and staying focused.
Where the Black Stars are today, they do not really want players who are not committed to the task. Not, at all!
As a matter of fact, Ghana needs whole-heartedly committed, disciplined and dedicated band of players now, more than anything else. Even if they are not as good as world-class stars, the fans will love to see the players give their all for second balls.
However, the fans will be left to feel a serious disconnection with the players - if nothing will suggest that they do not want to be there. A picture is worth 1000 words; they must show it!
This may be enough reason to see the cynosure of all eyes feed on the Black Stars as they roll off their campaign for qualification to Cameroon 2021, next week Thursday. The ball is in the court of the Stars to win back the flaking love.
By John Vigah