A DECADE OF DRAMA: Nine Games That Defined the Black Stars in The 2010s


For a side so easily capable of fluctuating the nation’s collective mood at will, Ghana’s senior national team has certainly not failed to serve drama in the 2010s.

As the decade draws to a close — thus ushering us into yet another era of the soap opera that is the Black Stars — Daily Mail GH chronicles the games, one per year, which defined the team’s highs and lows in said period:

1. 2010: GHANA – URUGUAY

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Ghana began the decade on a high, starting with a great — yet ultimately unsuccessful — run at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, but it wasn’t until the Fifa World Cup later in the year that it all reached an orgasmic crescendo. Given how that eventful quarter-final meeting with Uruguay went, it’s tempting to describe the occasion as an anti-climax, yet it proved anything but. The world had been attentive to Ghana ever since the Stars announced themselves boldly at the 2006 Mundial, but only four years later in South Africa did everyone truly sit up to admire. Uruguay emerged triumphant — with a helping hand, literally, from Luis Suarez — but it was Ghana that got the applause.

2. 2011: GHANA – ENGLAND

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Wembley — old and new — has had some raucous guests over the years, but Ghana and its army of colorful fans stood out on the night of March 29, 2011. Even before kick-off, and especially after Asamoah Gyan’s late leveler, it almost felt like the party that was left unfinished in Johannesburg nine months prior had been carried over to arguably the greatest arena of them all — and the English just weren’t ready, on the pitch and off it.

3. 2012: GHANA – LESOTHO

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It was the first game of Kwesi Appiah’s first [permanent] spell, and Ghana set about snuffing out Lesotho’s lights — if you know . . . — in a large way. The seven goals netted were the most the Stars had scored in a long time, and the fifth of those introduced us to a certain Christian Atsu. It did genuinely feel like the start of a spell of success, regardless of how small and hapless the opponents were on that night in Kumasi, and — for a while — it proved so.

4. 2013: GHANA – EGYPT

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Fast-forward a year: Kumasi again, bigger opposition, but the same relentless ruthlessness with which little Lesotho were dealt. Egypt were attempting to recover from a slump they had suffered after securing a record seventh Africa Cup of Nations title in 2010, but the Stars quickly nipped that threat in the bud. Six goals — two for each year that had passed since the Pharaohs pipped Ghana to glory in the Afcon final — were scored, with Egypt’s only response coming from talisman Mohamed Aboutrika via the spot. About a month later, Ghana weathered the little storm of a 2-1 loss in Cairo to seal a third straight passage to the World Cup finals.

5. 2014: GHANA – UGANDA

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Worse things happened to the Stars in 2014, but no game illustrated their fall from grace more vividly than this one, when Uganda came to town for the first of six Afcon 2015 qualifiers. On the field, Ghana struggled to a draw, but it was from the stands that the bigger worries poured, as the few fans present cheered the visitors’ every touch and jeered a home team that had revolted over unpaid fees and underwhelmed at the World Cup earlier that year. Before long, Appiah was out and, at the time, it looked like the Stars would never recover.


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And yet they did, for, backs-to-the-wall, there is hardly a team more resilient than Ghana’s Stars. By February of 2015, they had worked their way into the final of the Africa Cup of Nations — and into the hearts of their hitherto disillusioned fans. Most supporters who hadn’t yet pardoned the previous year’s sins quickly jumped onto the glory-bound bandwagon as a fifth African crown looked increasingly likely, and even after that bid hit a snag in the end against neighbors Ivory Coast, many more joined to console the lads. Until . . .

7. 2016: GHANA – UGANDA

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Uganda returned in October 2016, serving another reminder of just how bad the Stars’ post-Brazil 2014 blues had been, as the quest to reach another World Cup began. Yet although the home crowd was kinder this time, the result wasn’t, and the Cranes again departed with a point. That early setback would set a disappointing tone for the rest of Ghana’s campaign, with Egypt — yes, them again — ultimately picking the sole ticket on offer for Russia 2018.


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Enter Appiah, taking charge a second time to build from the ashes Israeli Avram Grant had left behind. And once more, the home-bred trainer’s tenure commenced with a bang. Pummeled 5-0, poor Ethiopia left with their tails between their legs; Ghanaian hopes, in contrast, were sky-high. Appiah, on his latest debut, had sold us another dream, fueled by a number of exciting young players he had infused into the set-up. What could go wrong?

9. 2018: ?

In a year that saw Ghana play only four international games — two of them friendlies — there really isn’t much of note to see here. Next slide, please.

10. 2019: GHANA – TUNISIA

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Then came 2019, with Ghana making — possibly — a final bid for Afcon gold under Appiah, its head coach of the past two years. For the few who weren’t doubters, the showpiece in Egypt felt like the point where everything could come together for the Stars. The team itself, though, hardly presented a front of togetherness, following a controversial and ill-timed pre-tournament switch of leadership from Asamoah Gyan to Andre Ayew. Things, it seemed, had fallen apart, and the results just couldn’t hold. Still, Ghana battled its way from Group F into the knockout rounds. There, against Tunisia, the team botched its first quarter-final in Nations Cup history. Ultimately, it was the right foot of rookie Caleb Ekuban that kicked Ghana’s dream into pieces in the ensuing shootout, but the blame could easily have lain elsewhere.

NY Frimpong — Daily Mail GH

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