Ghana’s redemption ride: Can AFCON 2023 wash away the ghosts of 2021?

Haunted by the demons of the past, Ghana stumbled out of the blocks, suffering a 2-1 defeat to the impressive Cape Verde

Ghana, a nation synonymous with continental footballing success, finds itself in unfamiliar territory at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

After a disastrous AFCON 2021 in Cameroon, where they bowed out with not a single victory, the Black Stars stand on the precipice of another early exit in Ivory Coast.

Haunted by the demons of the past, Ghana stumbled out of the blocks, suffering a 2-1 defeat to the impressive Cape Verde.

However, glimmers of hope emerged in their second clash against Egypt, an aggressive and structured performance ending in a tantalising 2-2 draw. Now, with fate dangling by a thread, the Black Stars face Mozambique in a winner-takes-all showdown for a potential place in the round of 16.

The stakes are sky-high. With the expansion of the tournament, four third-placed teams will join the group winners and runners-up in the knockout stage. But qualification won’t be a simple formality.

The equation is complex, demanding not just victory but potentially four points and a healthy goal difference with the hope that other teams from the other groups do not amass more points than the Black Stars. The permutations dance in the air, with the ghosts of Cape Verde’s dominant six points and Egypt’s two looming large.

Victory against Mozambique seems a formality on paper, yet memories of the Comoros debacle in 2021 serve as a chilling reminder. Complacency is a luxury Ghana cannot afford. Coach Chris Hughton, under immense pressure, must navigate this minefield with cunning and caution.

The eyes of a nation of 30 million are glued to their screens, desperate for redemption. Potentially he will lose his job, if Ghana fails to qualify to the next stage of the competition. The big question for Mr Chris and many Ghanaians will be;

Should Ghana adopt a pragmatic approach, lowering expectations to soften the blow of potential failure? Perhaps. But such a strategy betrays the fighting spirit that burns within the Black Stars.

On Monday, they must channel the aggression displayed against Egypt, the hunger for continental glory that defines their very essence. They must roar like the Black Stars they are, leaving everything on the pitch and hoping the fates align in their favor.

Ghana’s AFCON journey has been a rollercoaster of emotions, a stark contrast to the smooth ride their supporters crave. Yet, amidst the despair, flickers of resilience offer a glimmer of hope. Can they exorcise the demons of 2021? Can they write a new chapter in their AFCON tale? The answer awaits on Monday, etched in the sweat, tears, and determination of the Black Stars themselves.

By Lucky Soglo ( Maverick)

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