CHAN 2022: Is this Ghana’s time to win the trophy?

Ghana begin their trophy chase with opener against Madagascar

Ghana's Black Galaxies make a return to the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN) for the first time after a six-year absence and the expectation is huge.

The team remains the only side in the competition's brief history to make it to the finals twice without any silverware to show.

Despite the disappointments, optimism is increasingly growing that this is the year the home-based team will finally get it over the line.

And that objective will discernibly not be a stroll in the park for Ghana as previous winners like DR Congo, Morocco (should they participate), and Libya will provide stern tests.

But is this the edition that the Black Galaxies clinch the prestigious trophy for the first time?

Preparation breeds confidence

"By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail" is a famous quote conceived by the Founding Father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin and it is essential in every endeavor. Without planning or preparation towards a goal, success cannot be achieved. Ghana have been to the finals twice (2009, 2014) and the cornerstone of those feats is good preparation.

The CHAN 2009 which is the maiden edition of the championship saw eight nations compete for the trophy and the "Local Black Stars" as they were called, engaged in several friendlies on the local scene with an available coach in Milovan Rajevac who doubled as the senior national team's trainer back then. Before the friendlies, the Serbian had his team in camp for three weeks, dealing with the assessment and conditioning of the playing body.

Same happened five years later under the tutelage of Maxwell Konadu who had over a month to put his side in shape for CHAN 2014 such as playing against the Namibian senior national team, team B of African giants, Mamelodi Sundowns after camping in Chloorkop and Windhoek respectively.

Ghana endured their worst performance at the CHAN tournament with inadequate preparation. The 2011 edition ended in a calamitous fashion as the team got booted out of the tournament with zero point from the group stage.

Just two weeks of camping coupled with the divided attention of the head coach Herbert Addo who had a job of leading club side Aduana Stars in the CAF Champions League did not do the nation an awful lot of good.

"I take responsibility for the results in this tournament. It’s a young team and we have not been together for a long period," said Addo to CAF media after Ghana's exit.

If Milovan Rajevac and Maxwell Konadu had ample time to prepare, current Black Galaxies coach Annor Walker has had tons of it.

Head Coach Annor Walker (Middle) with his assistants, Prosper Nartey Ogum (Right) and Kobi-Mensah (Left) preparing for CHAN 2022 opener

The matches certainly place the national home-based team in good stead to making the country proud in Algeria.

Ghana's high-profile friendlies ahead of CHAN 2022

Black Galaxies 2-1 Hearts of Oak

Black Galaxies 2-0 Legon Cities

Black Galaxies 2-0 Egypt U-20

Black Galaxies 3-1 Al Ahly

Black Galaxies 0-0 Algeria

Black Galaxies 0-1 Mozambique (match halted after 75 minutes after Mozambicans were adamant to continue for a penalty awarded against them)

"The FA has done enough by giving them all the good preparation that they should have. Getting the chance to play Al Ahly SC is a very big platform," Ghana's CHAN 2009 qualifiers top scorer, Eric Bekoe eulogised the Ghana Football Association in an interview with Joy FM.

Unanimous objective

Ghana players in delirium after beating Nigeria 5-4 on penalties in Abuja

Ghana's unwanted record of being the first nation to lose the finals on two occasions in the competition's nine-year existence is excruciating. It is even mortifying that the nation has failed to qualify for the last three editions after starring in two of the first three.

From the get-go in the qualifiers, the squad looked much determined to get back on track. The 4-0 aggregate flawless victory over Benin in the first round was the beginning of their course. A comfortable 2-0 win over Nigeria followed up in Cape Coast and when the tide seemed to be turning in the second leg as the CHAN Eagles levelled the result, the team showed confidence and resilience to secure triumph in a 5-4 shoot-out in Abuja.

Now that qualification is secured, what is next on the agenda is to win the trophy.

"Sure they should expect the trophy and they expect a good game at least, a good position in the tournament from us," Afriyie Barnieh, the nation's top scorer during the qualifiers (4) told the GFA media.

"We are here with clear intentions and our aim is to win the trophy. It’s one trophy that Ghana has not won. We are not here to avoid any team including the hosts Algeria. We are ready to show all countries that we are also here to win," Coach Annor Walker was categorical during a press conference.

Can the Black Galaxies crack the jinx code?

Time will definitely tell as to whether the team will clinch the trophy for the very first time in the nation's history. But upon showing massive team spirit and mental fortitude in the qualifiers and the friendlies, Ghana cannot be written off.

"It is possible if the boys come together, believe in themselves and listen to the coach's instructions. Winning it is possible. The boys have some character and if they should keep it, they can bring the trophy home," Former Galaxies and Black Stars goalkeeper Fatau Dauda said on Joy FM's flagship sports show Sports Link.

Despite passing the Nigeria test on penalties, Maxwell Konadu who last led Ghana to the final nine years ago and lost to Libya on spot-kicks sees shoot-outs as Ghana's kryptonite and encourages more practices.

"I want to see this team win the tournament at all cost. What Annor Walker and his staff must be doing at the moment is after every training sessions, they let majority of the players practice the shoot-out. Definitely, to win this tournament, you may go into such situations. Before you can win a tournament majority of the time, once or twice you play penalties," He told Joy News.

Momentum is building, and a win over Madagascar in their first game - or possibly the way it will be achieved - will further amplify it.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.