Some Ghana U-23 players swerved taking penalties at the just-ended U23 Africa Cup of Nations for fear of insults, according to sports journalist Jude Acheampong.
Acheampong was with the Black Meteors in Egypt for the entirety of the tournament. He followed the team closely and believes players are to blame for failing to finish in the top three to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Black Meteors missed out on qualification for the multi-sport event despite coming very close. They were just one kick away in their last game against South Africa from qualifying for the first Olympics since 2004.
The third-place playoff ended 2-2 and the winner had to be decided on penalties. During the penalty shootout, Ghana was presented with a fifth – and potentially, decisive – kick, but left-back Edward Sarpong skied his effort.
South Africa went on to win and secure the bronze medal, booking their place in Tokyo in the process.
According to the sports journalist, Sarpong was not the right man and shouldn’t have taken the penalty. He explains that the best penalty takers were not interested because they were afraid of insults, had they missed.
“There was this guy, Fuseini, who had been one of the excellent penalty takers in training. He had played four penalty kicks and not even one went off but when it mattered most he was running away,” Jude told Joy Sports.
“Kwabena Owusu was with the Black Stars. In fact, one of the players who had gone into the mainstream, came back and was feeling comfortable and in a buoyant mood after scoring those two goals [against Mali]. We thought he was going to take the last penalty but he swerved it because he was afraid of insults.”
Owusu is reported to have said in Akan: “Why should I go and play this kick when Ghanaians are ready to insult me if I miss?”
Acheampong’s report, as shocking as it sounds, has been corroborated by team coach Tanko. “The players are afraid to miss penalties because of insults they will receive back home, so they are in two minds when they are going to play,” the gaffer told the media after the team lost to South Africa on Friday.
The defeat to the Amaglugglug was the Meteors second loss on penalties in three days. However, Ghana’s general fortunes in penalties in 2019 alone have been a disaster, with five separate instances of painful losses. Joy Sports analysed the statistical details here.
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