BARELY 72 hours from today, the Black Stars of Ghana will begin a campaign to win the Africa Cup of Nations for the fifth time. It will be an attempt to equal the feat of the Pharoahs of Egypt, which is the only African country to have won the cup so many times.
The Black Stars are on record as the first country to win the coveted trophy for the fourth time, before Egypt and Cameroon later equalled that feat.
Since that glorious moment in 1982, the Africa Cup has eluded the Black Stars, after many fruitless attempts to re-establish their supremacy in African football. The closest the Stars have come to winning the cup was in 1992 when they lost to the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the grand final in Senegal.
That match between the Black Stars and the Elephants has its own place in history, with its emotion-sapping 11-10 penalty victory for the Ivorians.
After wallowing in the wilderness for 26 years since the last time Ghana won the cup in Libya, the Daily Graphic and, indeed, many Ghanaians believe that the time has come for the Black Stars to bring back the Golden Fleece. And what a great opportunity they have to deliver that mission as hosts of the 26th edition of the continental football fiesta!
The high expectations Ghanaians have of the Black Stars winning the cup are anchored on the sterling performance exhibited by the team during the 2006 World Cup in Germany. At that tournament, where the Stars emerged as the only African team to qualify for the second round, they also proved that what they lacked in individual stardom, they made it up in teamwork.
It had been the general view that the current squad was yet to attain the star-studded status of the 1990s when the Black Stars paraded goalkeepers Salifu Ansah and Edward Ansah, defenders Tony Baffoe and Emmanuel Armah, midfielders Abedi Pele and Odartey Lamptey and strikers Tony Yeboah and Prince Polley.
As talented as those players were, they failed in all their attempts to win the Nations Cup or qualify for the World Cup, the latter goal of which has been attained by the present team.
It is, therefore, the expectation of all Ghanaians that the unity of purpose with which the Stars performed at the World Cup finals in Germany will prevail through the Nations Cup which kicks off in Accra on Sunday.
In spite of the absence of team captain and inspirer, Stephen Appiah, through injury, there is ample evidence that the team is well endowed to get a leader to step in and wax them to the level of their World Cup showing.
Strong defender, John Mensah, who has stepped into the captain’s shoes, has all the qualities needed in this regard and the Daily Graphic hopes he will get the necessary support from his colleagues to let the Stars go, go and go for the coveted trophy.
But, above all, let us all massively support the team to come out with flying colours. Ghanaians have, on many occasions, amply demonstrated this positive character and we trust we won’t be found wanting this time round.
Go for glory, Black Stars.