Zambia are gradually taking the place of Nigeria as Ghana’s biggest football rivals. If there was any lingering doubt about that assertion, perhaps the run-up to Friday’s cliff-hanger of a World Cup qualifier may just be the veritable evidence of modern day football rivalry.
With barely 24 hours to go for the epic encounter, the Zambian team is nowhere near Kumasi, Ghana, venue for the battle.
Instead they are home in Zambia, waging media war and calling the attention of FIFA to what they claim is a grande plot by Ghana’s FA to frustrate them.
The Chipolopolo, with a Boeing 737, want a direct flight from Lusaka to Kumasi, a local, not an international airport and when they were reminded by their Ghana counterparts that Kumasi was only a local airport undergoing some form of maintenance they went crying to FIFA fabricating stories of frustration which can only be self-inflicted.
Given the history of the Zambians and the painful memory of their past footballers who died as martyrs in a plane crash, they should be the first to reason with the local avaiation authorities in Ghana and take all precautionary measures and the last to question aviation advice.
But no! Friday’s game is a game on its own. It is a must win game for Brazil 2014 and any plot to win is a plot worth considering.
But the plot appears to be working somehow. For days, ahead of the game, the Zambia, Ghana media have been choked with stories about Zambia. First they want Derek Boateng punished by FIFA for an alleged revenge comment; then it was Claude LeRoy former Ghana coach predicting victory for Zambia; then came a poke shot from a Zambian official mocking Ghana for inviting all its players who were ‘retired’ after the Zambia inflicted a back-to-back 1-0 victory against Ghana in a period of six months in high profile competitions.
Whilst at it, the same Zambian team has called all their ‘limping’ players, suffering one injuring or another to line-up in the Kumasi battle with Ghana en route to Brasilia.
There are reports the Zambia team is coming with over 80 delegation in the botched flight with just a quarter of them being the playing body and the technical team.
And ohh not to forget the pending drama of straight flight to Kumasi from Zambia, which is yet to be finalized.
So you see, even in this little piece, the Chipolopolo have managed to get a rather tall, hugely undeserving introduction to a game so important to Ghana’s coach Kwasi Appiah, to Ghana and to Africa.
Ghana dreams of a third successive World Cup outing- and they were the only African country to have survived the first round hostilities in all the two previous outings.
Incidentally, in all those outings, foreign coaches masterminded the plot. It’s now the turn of ‘our own’ to take us to Brasilia and he must not fail. He needs it; Ghana needs it; Africa needs it; World football needs it. For what will a World Cup in Brazil be without the Brazil of Africa?
Whilst Zambia make fun of Ghana for calling its retired players back into battle against them, it is time for those players to put the Zambia team in its rightful place. Asamoah Gyan, they grabbed your penalty; they mocked you and it’s time for revenge on the field. Incidentally you are now the captain, the army commander of a team desperate to leave an indelible mark on the country and the time is now. Don’t forget, football fans, particularly those in Ghana have such a short memory when it comes to success. Even though your crucial goals away to Sudan and Lesotho have brought us this far, they will all amount to nothing if the Zambians snatch victory on Friday.
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