After winning the Africa Cup of Nations in Libya 1982, the Black Stars made only one final between 1984 and 2006.
That period in Ghanaian football was akin to the Dark Ages in Europe; they failed to qualify from 1986-1990, a runners-up spot in 1992 and a fourth-place finish in South Africa 1996 was the only joy the motherland experienced in the 90s.
2006 World Cup
The beginning of the revolution.
Fast forward to 2006, the emergence of new young stars like Asamoah Gyan, John Mensah, Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien burst onto the scene to bring new hope to the country.
With Ratomir Dujkovic in charge and a squad full of players who were thriving in top European leagues, Ghana was able to qualify to the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The spotlight was on us and we delivered; captivating displays on and off the field, beautiful football and unique goal celebrations put Ghana on the map. It took mighty Brazil with Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Adriano to stop the Black Stars in the Round of 16. But we did not stop there.
Project Host-and-Win. After being a global phenomenon at the World Cup two years before, the nation was in love with the Black Stars and knew in their hearts that they could bring the Fifth AFCON trophy on home soil. It was all smiles and cheers before Didier N'kong's late winner silenced the Ohene Djan stadium. A third place finish was good enough but not what the nation expected.
The country was behind the Black Stars all the way. They made it to the final but Mohamed Gedo had the last say to break Ghanaian hearts once again. We recovered and looked forward to the 2010 World Cup.
2010 World Cup
Africa's first World Cup. And as expected, the country was a jubilant mood ahead of the tournament. Our official songs were all over the radio. Every street corner was filled with Ghana flags and Vuvuzelas, the famous men painted in Ghana colours could be found on every road during rush hour traffic. It was Africa's time, most importantly; it was our time.
We made it to the quarterfinals, the farthest any African team came in the tournament. The Black Stars were so huge that we had Europeans supporting us in South Africa alongside the whole of Africa. The infamous Luis Suarez handball led to Asamoah Gyan's penalty which sealed our fate. The Black Stars faced the dreaded penalty shootouts; and failed to win. The dream was over, but we soldiered on.
AFCON 2012 & 2013
Another late goal, this time from Emmanuel Mayuka of Zambia, ended another hope of lifting the Fifth. Zambia finished as the eventual champions and the Black Stars lost to Mali to finish in fourth place. At this point, the euphoria pushing the team since 2010 was fading quickly.
AFCON 2013 in South Africa, the place the Black Stars made history 3 years before was the stage for another disappointing tournament. Aristide Bance equalized late on to take the game to penalties. Ghana and penalty shootouts had bad blood, and that continued as Burkina Faso won the shootout.
2014 World Cup
The final straw. The Black Stars had failed to win anything since the 2010 World Cup and the country was getting impatient, the painful AFCON exits did not help win any favours either. Confidence in the nation was underwhelming but deep down we hoped they could repeat the magic of 2010. In-fighting in the Black Stars camp, Government interference and poor results on the field all combined to make a huge mess in Brazil. An embarrassing group stage exit was enough to turn the nation against the team.
With the country having had enough of the Black Stars, they set off to try and win the trophy in an effort to win back Ghanaians. The tournament was a not a normal Black Stars performance; 3-0 wins on the route to the final, exciting performances and emergence of new stars replaced our infamous 'one-goal project'.
The Black Stars faced one of their bitter rivals Ivory Coast in the final. The match went to a penalty shootout, the roadblock at previous tournaments. Ghana took a two penalty lead early on in the shootout, the country held its breath. They all thought this year was their year until Afriyie Acquah and Frank Acheampong's woeful penalties put Ivory Coast back in the game. The elephants eventually won the trophy, leaving the team in tears.
Two late goals from Ngadeu-Ngadjui and Christian Bassogog were enough to knock out Ghana in the semi-finals. Just like in 2012, our opponent Cameroon went on to win the AFCON. Burkina Faso added insult to injury, beating us to finish in 3rd place. Another disappointing tournament, the nation was growing tired of the Black Stars antics.
2018 World Cup
We failed to even qualify as the country's football descended into madness. The local league and the GFA went to shambles over Anas' Number 12 documentary and on top of that, the Black Stars failed to cover these misfortunes as they usually do at the World Cup.
The country is indifferent this time around, most of the love for the Black Stars faded years ago. Kwasi Appiah is back in charge and we all vividly remember how our 2014 World Cup campaign went. No painted men in the streets, no flags in stores, and our famous soundtracks have disappeared from the airwaves. 'Ghana just doesn't care about the Black Stars anymore, you would be crazy to support them in Egypt' is everybody's anthem.
Personally, I say this silence is the best thing to happen to the Black Stars. They are going into Egypt with no pressure to succeed and the weight of the nation is off their shoulders. The mood in the camp is lively, the players are enjoying their stay and we are taking a blend of youth and experience. What could go wrong? Every time Ghana is in love with the Black Stars, they always find a way to fail (2008, 2010, and 2014). This AFCON, Ghanaians have lost faith in the team which means this could be our best AFCON yet.
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