After the disappointment, the inquest.
It won’t take too long for scapegoats to be found who would bear the burden of blame for Ghana’s earlier-than-usual exit from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. From Kwesi Appiah and Jordan Ayew to Caleb Ekuban and whoever-else-the-cap-fits, there is no shortage of candidates. Take your pick, pick your scourge, and flay them all you want. Before long, though, positives would have to be gleaned from the ruins with which to rebuild the next challenge.
Would any be found?
Sure – depending, of course, on the perspective in which the latest disappointment is viewed. Doubtlessly, Egypt 2019 represents a new low in the Black Stars’ long and tortuous history. From here, it is admittedly hard seeing the end of the tunnel — much less the proverbial light — but Ghana has a map that could eventually reward this four-decade treasure hunt.
See, Monday’s Afcon collapse may represent a swansong for some members of Ghana’s squad, but the remainder would only regard it as, at worst, a transit to the final destination. When head coach Appiah, before Ghana’s second group game with Cameroon, laid out his post-Egypt 2019 plans, he was ridiculed for envisioning a future he likely wouldn’t even be part of. The former national fullback, though, had a point.
A big one.
“If you look at the team now, about three of four players are players I brought from the youth level and I believe that we shouldn’t only look at this competition but look at the next competition, the World Cup,” he told the media.
This is no fantasy. His first term as Ghana boss, which ended in the third quarter of 2014, saw him do same. To his successor, Avram Grant, Appiah bequeathed a team that would go on to reach the final of the Afcon the very next year. That core — ageing — is what Appiah inherited in his second coming, and he would likely walk through the exit with that lot. What he leaves behind, though, could survive him and last the nation for years: a group of young, exciting hopefuls who look well-placed to revive Ghana’s withered fortunes in international football.
It’s a process Appiah should stay around long enough to finish and even reap from, but for the impatience and startling lack of belief from his countrymen. Still, whoever replaces him should be able to pick up from where Appiah leaves off. In that sense, then, Egypt 2019 — even with its stinging pain — could prove more of a promising beginning than the tragic end it feels like right now, if nursed right.
Sammie Frimpong — Daily Mail GH