I knew how serious Nigerians had taken the friendly match with the Black Stars which was to have come off at the Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford. The reason was simple! The Black Stars have beaten the Super Eagles in their last three meetings. Before then, the Nigerians have had a 15-year bragging right of dominance over the Black Stars. The jinx was broken in grand style when Ghana beat Nigeria 4-1 in Brentford in 2007. Though the Stars were dominant on the day, John Mikel Obi’s lob of the ball over club team mate Michael Essien in midfield will always be fresh in my mind. In the local parlance, I would have said Michael Essien was tailored, or is it ‘measured’, by Mikel. After that match, the two meetings of the two sides were very competitive. The first was at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations at the then Ohene Djan Stadium. A ten-man Ghana team came from a goal down to beat the Super Eagles 2-1 in the quarter-finals. The next meeting was also in the Africa Cup of nations, this time in the semi-finals in Angola. Lone striker Asamoah Gyan connected to a corner kick by Kwadwo Asamoah to give the Black Stars a 1-0 win. So the Nigerians were keen on beating Ghana.
The Black Stars, on the other side, were aiming at protecting religiously an unbeaten run they have up their sleeves in the land of their colonial masters. The last time they played on that land, they faced the owners themselves, the Three Lions. Ghana not only became one of the few African countries to draw with England, but also broke Wembley’s attendance record for a guest team. The over 20, 000 fans have made history t least for now.
So the two West African nations were ready to battle it out at the Vicarage Road. Well, some of us had had at the back of our minds that the match was likely to end in a draw if not a win for the Black Stars…my opinion!
More importantly, head coach of the Black Stars, Goran Stevanovic had called two players into the Black Stars squad for the first time. Adam Larsen Kwarasey and Albert Adomah gained maiden call-ups in the 19-man squad of Plavi. Prince Buaben, one of my finest midfielders, was also going to make a return to the Black Stars and since the match would have been his first under the watchful eyes of a Serbian, he might have been poised to impress. Of course, he signed for Watford this year, so he was going to give some home fans some the stuff that made one of the few consistent Ghanaian players in the Scottish Premier League. For Adam Kwarasey, his nationality switch was going to be complete as he was named in the starting line-up. I hear he was all smiles when he arrived in the Black Stars camp.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the team was hit with mass withdrawals through injuries. John Mensah, Daniel Opare and Kwadwo Asamoah had all withdrawn from the game. In their places, players like Mohammed Abu and Ibrahim Attiku as well as Derek Boateng were called.
The new faces were definitely bent on impressing in order to have a place in the Black Stars. Though some of us were clamouring for the match to be called off two days prior to schedule, the newly-called ones must gnashing their teeth for a missed opportunity. They may be asking whether another chance will present itself. The point is that calling of players also depends on the opposition. Will a Ghana-Nigeria friendly match ever be scheduled? From the grapevine, Ghana’s next friendly will be against Uruguay. With the bitter experience Ghana suffered at the hands of the South American champions at the 2010 World Cup, most of the experienced players would relish playing this ‘revenge game’. Some kinds of injuries may not even restrain them from playing against the 2010 World Cu semi-finalists. ‘Will there be another chance?’ the players may e asking themselves. YES!! If only you put in your best at club level. The Black Stars especially with a new management committee is open. You have a chance!!