The words ‘Ghana’ and ‘football’ go together like Gari and Beans. Sure, they can exist without one another and serve a variety of purposes individually, but together they have a classic, ageless quality familiar to all of us.
A lot of us (Ghanaians) have ever tasted the salubrious delicacy. Whoever proffered the idea of the culinary masterpiece ‘Gobe’ as it is popularly known among the Ghanaian populace deserves a posthumous award. We’ve also seen the Black Stars of Ghana do something memorable on the football pitch. Dinkumly, the Black Stars have led a bit of a tortured existence in over three decades. They’ve frequently had the tools to go far in major competitions but often fall at the penultimate or final hurdle. Or sometimes they struggle badly. Nonetheless, they’ve always been blessed with a supreme talent which has convinced some – mainly hipsters – that they could go all the way. Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? We have put together an XI that dazzled for the Black Stars in the last two decades. Yes, it was hard; yes there are some glaring omissions. But we reckon it’s still a dream of an eleven. Take a look and let us know what you think. GK– RichardKingstonEmbed from Getty Images
Ghana may have produced some great shot-stoppers within the aforementioned period, but this was perhaps the easiest inclusion in our side. He racked up 90 caps and featured in 5 AFCONS; 2 World Cups and was in the Ghana team that played in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. w He was a symbol of consistency and played a significant role in the Black Stars’ impressive run World Cup run in 2010; helping the West African nation to the quarter-finals only to lose to Uruguay on penalties. RB– JohnPaintsilEmbed from Getty Images
The colossal right-back wall. He was ever-present for the Black Stars during the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups; also featured in three AFCONS; a member of Ghana’s 2004 Summer Olympics Men’s football team, he capped 89 times for the nation. John Paintsil was solid, reliable, versatile and tough. Just the player you wanted in your dressing room if you were scrapping to beat the best teams and create a lively atmosphere in camp. Comfortable both at right-back and centrally, Paintsil would operate with an uncompromising style, rarely being beaten in duels either aerially or on the ground. CB– SamuelOseiKuffourEmbed from Getty Images
Sammy Tuga may have had some lows with the Black Stars but he still one of the greatest footballers don the Ghanaian jersey. He has featured for every national team starting with the Black Starlets. He was a definition of a professional; never stops running, never gives even if his side is being hammered, he was resolute beyond belief. His consistencies make his selection even much easier. CB– JohnMensahEmbed from Getty Images
Rugged in appearance, Mensah was a ferocious competitor and would marshal the Black Stars’ backline for years, becoming a firm fans favourite. He was calm on the ball, aerially dominant and confident in his abilities- giving him qualities all worthy of a good defender. He was one of the finest centre-halves the fans of the Black Stars have ever seen, confirming his spot in our team of the last two decades. He made everything tick. The one who would put his body one the time and time again for the team. LB– HansAduSarpeiEmbed from Getty Images
A player often overlooked in conversations of the Black Stars’ best players in the last two decades, but a towering presence who would form a formidable part of the Black Stars defence for years. Another versatile player, Sarpei was comfortable playing on either side of the flank. Equally comfortable playing in a back four or a back three. Not the most technically gifted but certainly the most consistent player we have seen in the position within the period. Although his exploits in Europe for the majority of his career meant he wasn’t quite appreciated by a wider European audience, Sarpei was nonetheless a consistent star down Ghana’s left flank. CM– SulleyMuntariEmbed from Getty Images
Often blighted with attitude issues earlier on in his career, Sulley Muntari went on to establish himself as one of Europe’s finest defensive midfielders under Jose Mourinho at Internazionale with whom he won the UEFA Champions League and two Serie A titles. He also a member of the Portsmouth team that won the FA Cup in the 2007-08 season. He was not the flashiest and wasn’t ever the most marketable star in the Black Stars team, but his work in all phases of play was incredible and so crucial for every side he was a part of. His international career spanned over 12 years; racking up over 80 caps and was undoubtedly a key cog in the national team. CM– MichaelEssienEmbed from Getty Images
Another grace sucker in the heart of the Ghana midfield. Essien was a mainstay in the Ghana team alongside Stephen Appiah and Sulley Muntari in the 2000s. They were like a pair of poets when they combined in possession, while their steel and desire off of it transformed Ghana into a sterner and more formidable force. It came as no surprise to many when the Ghanaian midfield was named of the best in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Essien possesses a UEFA Champions League crown as well EPL and FA Cup titles. He was one of the best in his position during his halcyon days. AM– StephenAppiahEmbed from Getty Images
With his spiky personality and bold statements, Appiah captained the Black Stars team during their maiden appearance at the Mundial in 2006. Capable of playing centrally as a playmaker or out wide, the former Hearts of Oak midfielder remains one of the country’s all-time greats. In 67 appearances, the charismatic Appiah netted 16 goals in his Ghana career that spanned over fifteen years. It takes nothing away from his ability though and is well-liked by many a Ghanaian football fan and neutrals alike. Without a doubt one of the best of the past two decades, Appiah can pass, dribble, score goals and can operate in any part of the midfield. RW– LaryeaKingstonEmbed from Getty Images
The younger brother of Richard Kingston, Laryea will forever rue his failure to play at the highest international stage- the FIFA World Cup. After playing an integral role in Ghana’s qualification to the 2006 World Cup, Laryea’s dream of playing in Ghana’s debut World Cup appearance got dashed after he was shown a red card in a 2006 AFCON game following an altercation with Habib Beye of Senegal. He also excluded from the squad that played in the 2010 edition. He may not have played at the World Cup, but the fact that he merits inclusion in this lineup speaks volumes of his talent. He was utterly superb anytime he donned the jersey of the Black Stars. LW–AndreAyewEmbed from Getty Images
The son of a Ghanaian legend, Andre walked out of his father’s shadow to carve a niche for himself. A Word Cup winner at the youth level, Andre has risen through the ranks to become a mainstay in the national team. On his day, Andre Ayew is a delight to watch as his fluid style allows him t rack up goals and assists at an alarming rate. He is a powerful, yet graceful machine and that skill have helped him rise like a phoenix from the ashes. He has made some great strides, but still has a lot to accomplish to etch his name in Ghana’s football folklore as is the case of his father; Abedi Ayew. ST–AsamoahGyanEmbed from Getty Images
Are there any objections to including the Black Stars’ highest scorer of all time in this squad? Yeah, we thought not. His ability to finish off both feet is what makes him such a threat in the final third, while his workhorse nature makes him a manager’s dream. Gyan is currently plying his trade out in India where he’s enjoyed a fairly decent start amid injury woes. No debates. No questions. Gyan is the best number nine for the Black Stars in the last two decades.
By Godfred Budu Yeboah /Kickgh