A sad end to the Russian dream
Day light robbery. Officiating injustice. A crude reminder of Joseph Lamptey. This referee has got to be banned. The game has got to be replayed. These were but a few comments I picked up from social media following Ghana’s controversial drawn game over the weekend. That call by the Assistant referee would linger on the minds of many a Ghanaian for a very long time. It was understandable to see virtually the entire playing and coaching staff accost the match officials over that last minute incident. I have never seen Technical Coordinator Stephen Appiah and Assistant Coach Tanko this livid in a very long time. Their body language was one of anger and disgust. They simply could not comprehend why the Stars had been denied such an important win which could have ultimately enhanced the Stars Russian Dream.
It hurts. It truly hurts. Even friends who had virtually given up on Ghana’s World Cup hopes suddenly found their voices. Strange one might say. I can understand all that. Granted we were not in pole position to qualify for the Mundial,that did not allow the match officials to ultimately decide our fate some added. Truth be told though we only have ourselves to blame.
The World Cup is serious business and the trickle-down effect on any nation can simply not be discarded. The tourism potential and the football economy would have been positively affected by our three previous world cup qualifications. If for nothing at all, the players had their bank balances improve without even kicking a ball as they demand massive appearance fees. Players have fed of their performances at the tournament to land huge contracts, with James Rodriguez the biggest beneficiary of Brazil 2014. That Real Madrid had to fork out a massive €88m to acquire his services from French club Monaco said it all after those sublime performances for the Colombians. This is a massive showpiece with close to a billion eye balls fixed on virtually every game. In our part of the world traditionally dominated by the extended family system, one healthy contract could ultimately transform the lives of God knows how many people. The decision by FIFA to even pay off some generated funds to clubs who contribute a significant number of players to a national side means some clubs who barely earn anything benefit from their players participation. I could go on and on and on. Such is the financial powerhouse the World Cup is.
For any Football Federation desirous of making some good money from the games, there approach to these qualifiers is taken that seriously. A look at the nations that consistently qualify and make such a huge impression at the games show the level of investment and the professional touch to the preparations. I recall the Germans built a camp from scratch as their base just for the World Cup in Brazil alone. We all know who won the competition, don’t we?
Once we bottled it in the first game, it was always going to be a tall mountain to climb. How do you qualify for such a tourney by failing to win any of your home games played so far? I am not in any way suggesting that it is wrong to win on the road. Far from that. It’s great to win on the road but that is always a big ask. We could have made this qualification a certainty by winning the games against Uganda and Congo. It is not like we had to play Brazil and Argentina for crying out loud. No disrespect to them but it was Uganda and Congo for crying out loud.
The Mathematics experts that we are, we have spent quality time coming up with some ludicrous calculations since that draw against Congo in Kumasi. Three wins at home and four points on the road would have surely taken the team to Russia. I could have at least visited Russia for the first time as a journo. Sad.
The FA have the right to express their misgivings over the actions of the match officials in Kampala but come on, this is no way comparable to the ludicrous decision of Joseph Lamptey. This game would not be replayed because of that single act. Yes the assistant ref could be punished. He won’t be killed. Let us not get ahead of ourselves. The result will stand. We could still have won our final two games and not qualified anyway. Zambia am sure would also be complaining about Mulenga being denied a clear goal in their game against Nigeria as he was clearly onside when he scored on Saturday. That game would not be replayed either. The South Africa-Senegal game uncovered something. Have a look at the reading of the verdict again. It clearly stated that the Ghanaian referee had manipulated the results and this was after a lengthy investigation. That decision was not arrived at after twenty four hours and ranting and raving on social Media so guys take a chill.
We are out. Period. The planning for AFCON 2019 and Qatar 2022 starts now. It is great to see the young lads coming through. They would go some notches and levels higher with game time at their respective clubs and manager Appiah willing to take a chance on every call up. Goalkeeper Ofori, defenders Amartey, Nicholas Opoku, Thomas Agyepong, Lumor Agbenyo, midfielders Ofori, Partey, Duncan and co are the future of the team. Let us rally around them going forward and spare ourselves the loud screams, yelling and verbal abuse at the match officials. It would go nowhere.
Thanks for reading this piece.
The writer is Kwame Dwomoh-Agyemang, Sports Editor at Class 91.3, Accra. You can reach on via twitter @DwomohKwame1 and on Facebook at Kwame Dwomoh Agyemang. You can also reach him by phone on 0244-623166.