The playing body of Ghana’s senior football team, the Black Stars, would get nothing if they fail to qualify to the next stage, says Sports Minister-designate, Isaac Asiamah.
In an exclusive interview with ekowasmahsports.com, yesterday, he stated that the players are fully aware of that arrangement, and have no qualms about it.
“I talked to them about it, and they have no issues with it.
“Also, the president (Nana Addo-Dankwa Akuffo Addo) spoke to them before their opener (against Uganda). So, there’s no problem,” he assured.
The Black Stars today play a crucial Group D match against young but tough customers, Mali, which managed a 0-0 draw with continental giants, Egypt, 2-0 conquerors of Ghana in their crucial 2018 w.c. qualifier at Alexandria.
That result put Mali at equal strength with Egypt, on paper, and puts them in good stead, psychologically, for their encounter with favourites, the Black Stars, who defeated Uganda 1-0 in their opening group match.
The Black Stars are perched atop the standings, but lost key defender, Baba Rahman, in the opener, through injury.
Following that victory Ghana gained by the skin of the teeth, HC Avram Grant intimated that a few of the Black Stars he himself picked had not been playing for their club sides, this season.
In consequence, he added, that category of players showed up for pre-tournament camping, out of shape.
It would be recalled that the Black Stars failed to play any friendly match of note, pre-tournament, inspite of the stated lack of match-fitness, shortchanging the team’s battle-readiness.
Conversely, their opening game opponents, Uganda – who had held Ghana on the road to a 0-0 result in their wcq – played international friendlies against Slovenia, Slovakia and the Ivory Coast, to get ready for the Afcon battle in Gabon.
No wonder the Black Stars struggled to contain the Ugandans – after taking a first half lead – in the second half of their opener, conscipuously fatigued, albeit holding on for the crucial three points.
Worse still, unconfirmed reports indicate that deputy captain, Andre Ayew – who converted a penalty for the win in the opener – recently recovered from injury he sustained in his new EPL team, West Ham’s season opener – might not be match-fit.
That would be perilous for the Black Stars, already short of fire power, given that the team’s other reliable goalscorer, captain Asamoah Gyan has been battling injuries and a dip in form the past two years.
Still, Ghana start as favourites, faced with the tall order of defeating the Eagles of Mali, who have sworn to beat the Black Stars.
In that event, it would postpone Ghana’s progress to the quarter final stage, requiring the Black Stars to take out the Egyptians who recently bested Ghana.
Losing two straight games at the group stage is unfathomable to any savant of the game, imponderable to Ghanaian football fans, and highly improbabke to even the most cynical fan.
So, the odds are on Ghana managing a berth, eventually, at the knockout stage, at minimum.
However, in the unlikely event the Black Stars manage a spectacular failure to advance past the group stage, they will get zero bonuses for their efforts, says sports ministers designate, Isaac Asiamah.