More AFCON misery for Ghana: What went wrong for the Black Stars?

The dust is beginning to settle on Ghana’s elimination from the Africa Cup of Nations 2019, but the pain is still raw for many fans of the national team.

Having escaped a group that featured Benin, Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau, with one win and two draws, the Black Stars were eliminated at the Round of 16 by Tunisia.

After a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes, the North African nation dominated the penalty shootout and have now made it all the way to the semi-finals.

The heart-breaking nature of Ghana’s latest AFCON failure meant the nation has gone 37 years without lifting the famous trophy. A simply unacceptable stat for a country of Ghana’s stature in African football.

Manager under fire

Kwesi Appiah, hired by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) for the second time in 2017, has come under the most fire by the fans, press and former Black Stars.

In a poll run by our Twitter account, Appiah received 50% of the 2,700 voters who were asked “who or what is to blame for our #AFCON2019 failure?” The other options were the players (12%) and the referee (37%).

Appiah was criticised for team selections and tactics. Black Stars legend Asamoah Gyan had little playing time, whilst many felt Kwadwo Asamoah should have started more games.

It is likely that Appiah will pay for this latest failure with his job. The circus around him has become too great, with a famous Ghanaian news presenter reportedly grabbing the coach by his ear, as a mother would to their ill-behaved child.

Goals are lacking

Jordan Ayew was Ghana's top goal scorer at AFCON 2019

Ghana also struggled in front of goal. Our top scorer at the tournament was Crystal Palace forward Jordan Ayew, with a measly two goals. Only two other Ghanaian players scored in the tournament.

After the Black Stars were booted out of the 2019 AFCON, actress Juliet Ibrahim took to Twitter: “But we had so many chances at goal though. I am confused. #ekuban must hv seen something standing in the goal post before kicking the penalty.”

Perhaps this goes back to Appiah and his decisions not to play Gyan as often as he could. Maybe the team was not set up right. Or this could just be football. The Ayew brothers, with the support of Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey and Newcastle’s Christian Atsu, would have wanted to contribute more, but failed to shine under the spotlight.

What next?

The burning question now, is what’s next? In January it was reported that Dr Kofi Amoah, the GFA’s Normalisation Committee President said: “Per the contract, if Kwesi Appiah doesn't win the AFCON 2019 he is gone. This is stated in his contract.”

Former Black Stars assistant coach Maxwell Konadu told GhOne TV said he deserves another chance.

“Kwesi Appiah deserves another chance. Ghanaians shouldn't be hard on him. He has discovered certain players for the country. Some of the current players know they wouldn't be part in the next AFCON.

Kwesi Appiah is under pressure

"Most of the young players in the squad would come on board and build a new phase of the Black Stars so we shouldn't harass them.”

He could have a point. Lumor Agbeyenu, Kasim Nuhu and Thomas Agyepong all made their Ghana debuts during the opening game against Benin and should only get better. The trio have an average age of under 23 and their careers are in front of them.

Other Ghanaians have moved to bigger leagues this summer. Joseph Aidoo completed a switch from the Belgian league to Celta Vigo in La Liga, where he will be tested against some of the world’s greatest players.

Nana Ampomah also moved from a Belgian club, Waasland-Beveren, to ply his trade in the German Bundesliga. He became the fifth Ghanaian to sign for Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Not all hope is lost, but we have been here before. How the Black Stars move to the next level is complicated and will not be achieved over night.

Bet on AFCON 2019 here.