Ghana captain, Andre Ayew, says his country needs to improve its organisation if it is to return to the highs that saw it winning the U-20 World Cup in 2009.
Ayew, who led the Black Satellites to victory against Brazil in the final in Egypt 10 years ago, reflected on the triumph after the current senior Black Stars side went through another international break without any fixtures.
“We are very disappointed because in the last two international windows we did not have any friendly games and we don’t know why,” the Swansea forward told BBC Sport.
“We progressed really well till 2014 when we had some little issues. From then we don’t have to lie, we keep regressing.
“From 2009, if you look at what we have done, we went to the 2010 World Cup. We went to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations we lost to Egypt in the final.
“In 2012 we went to the semi-finals, 2015 we went to the finals, 2014 we went to the World Cup so you could see there was progression.
“We were playing friendly games against big countries. We played England, Russia, big countries so that we continue progressing but since then we have lost that organisation,” Ayew said.
After their disappointing round-of-16 exit from this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, Ayew says Ghana were hoping to use friendly matches to regroup and prepare for the qualifiers of the 2021 Nations Cup finals in Cameroon.
Ghana are in group C in the qualifying campaign, alongside South Africa, Sudan and Sao Tome e Principe. The Black Stars begin the quest for a fifth title next month against South Africa having last won the continental showpiece event in 1982.
Ayew – who is the current captain of the senior Ghana side – says the 2009 U-20 triumph was important for the country and that African teams must take youth tournaments seriously.
“Football for most African players is a way to survive. It’s a way to make the whole family eat so these tournaments are very important not only for personal life to help a player become professional but to also prepare the future of the country’s football,” said Ayew.
Despite Ghana’s lack of fixtures since Egypt 2019, Ayew said he was pleased to see other African countries moving in the right direction.
“What Algeria, Senegal and Nigeria are doing is showing all other countries that if you want to win, if you want to compete for a tournament, it doesn’t come easy, it’s hard work, it comes with a plan. They have shown an example. A few years ago, Ghana was the example.”
His former team-mates from that triumphant 2009 success also shared his sentiments.
“While all the countries are having international friendlies, Ghana cannot produce even one friendly, it’s very bad. Look at the brand of Black Stars. It’s a very high-profile brand and I don’t think it should have come to this way,” said Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu who now plays his football with Verona in Italy.
David Addy, who now plays with Ilves in Finland, said when they won the tournament they did not really understand how big an achievement it was.
“Although it helped us to sign contracts with big clubs we didn’t really feel like we did something great. We felt happy for winning it but now we feel this is big,” said Addy.
Ghana remains the only African country to win the Under 20 World Cup.