By Sam Doku, PhD
The Black Stars of Ghana stand-in captain, Agyemang Badu lamented the absence of Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew, and Christian Atsu for the friendly against Canada tomorrow, but he assured everyone that he is ready and prepared to lead the Stars to victory.
Speaking at news conference held on Sunday at the Ghana Embassy in Washington, DC, Badu, in the company of teammate, John Boye, showed poise and maturity and noted that it is an honor for them anytime they are called upon to represent Ghana, so they feel obligated to play well although their best does not always result in victories.
“It will be an honor to play alongside my father, the Ambassador, and we will beat Canada on Tuesday to show that we are ready for our World Cup qualifying matches next month,” said Badu. Badu was compelled to parody Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Lt. General Joseph Henry Smith (Ret.), who in his opening remarks joked and asked Coach Avram Grant to field him for the match against the Canadians.
Probably the Ambassador remembered his playing days at Achimota in the 1960s, so even at the young age of 70, he still feels the urge to play. In his opening remarks, the Ambassador bemoaned the lack of appreciation of time by many Ghanaians and wondered how an event meant to start at 1:30 PM didn’t take off until 3:30 PM.
Lt. General Smith enjoined the Black Stars not to take the match for granted because Ghanaians in the Diaspora will be looking for victory to give them a sense of pride and dignity. “Although it is a friendly, Ghanaians in the Diaspora and back home in Ghana will be expecting you to win to put smiles on their faces,” said the Ambassador.
He told the Black Stars: “Be focused. Be dedicated; Avoid distraction; Don’t lose sight of the mission at hand for you always make a good conversation because you always make us feel good.”
Embassy officials, Mr. Skido Achuba, who is the deputy Ambassador and Mrs. Amma Twum-Boah, head of Chancery, accompanied the Ambassador to the news conference.
Reverend Lloyd Asante, CEO and president of Top Global LLC, organizers of the historic friendly match, following the example of Ambassador Smith, wondered if the grotesque dearth of sense of time by some Ghanaians would ever eviscerate from Ghanaian culture.
In spite of his disappointment about the tardy arrival of guests to the news conference, Rev. Asante announced that out of his patriotic generosity, tickets to the match have been reduced from $53 to $40. The reduction, he hoped, would attract many more fans to the game.
In an answer to a question, Coach Grant refused to give a direct response to the possibility of inviting so-called “rebels,” Sulley Muntari, Michael Essien, and Kevin Prince Boateng to the national team in the near future. He gave a curt and politically correct reply that he was happy with the current players he has and would continue to work with them.
When asked if he was familiar with the style of the Black Stars and if any of the players of Ghana intimidate him with their presence on the field, Assistant coach of the Canadian national team, Mike Finley noted that they did their homework by watching videos and matches involving the Black Stars, so they are ready to battle against Ghana.
If Grant has any particular formation he favors, he said, “I choose my formation based on the players I have. Formations don’t win matches; the talent, desire, and ability of players do.” Grant also noted visa problems prevented some of the players from joining the team. “We are happy to play against Canada, which is a very good team.” The captain of the Canadian team, Ken, was also present at the news conference.
The Ghana and Canada match kicks off at 7:30 PM.