Ghana just can’t seem to catch a break.
Sunday’s epic loss to Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations final is just the latest chapter in a long story of misery for the proud footballing nation.
Avram Grant and his resilient side were forced to endure a 9-8 penalty defeat in which the entire fate of the tournament rested on how two goalkeepers performed from the spot.
Ivory Coast forward Gervinho couldn’t even bear to watch. The failed Arsenal winger turned Roma talisman certainly understood what was at stake. Lucky for him, he didn’t have to experience that crushing defeat he felt looming, as Ghana was beaten in brutal (and shameless) fashion.
Of course they were. For Ghana, such soul crushing defeats are par for the course.
For starters, Ghana’s last two World Cup appearances were unmitigated disasters. In 2010, Ghana was dealt a major blow during qualification as their captain, Milan’s Michael Essien, was ruled out due to injury. Undeterred, the Black Stars stormed to the quarter finals.
The feel good story line of an African nation making the semi-finals at the South Africa hosted tournament was the pulse of the footballing world. They looked destined to top Uruguay at the death to break the glass ceiling of World Cup performances from African countries.
Then they had their heart ripped out 3 times in as many minutes.
First there was the Suarez handball (fittingly enough his coming out party), followed by Asamoah Gyan’s painful penalty miss only to set up…you guessed it…another defeat in penalty kicks. I warn those of you with any ounce of compassion, this may ruin your day:
Fast forward to 2014 and Ghana’s attempt at atonement is put on life support months before the tournament even begins, as they are handed the Group of Death. The United States avenged their lost to the Black Cats in the previous tournament’s round of 16 by helping Portugal and Germany end Ghana’s hopes of redemption.
In between their World Cup heartbreak, Ghana handed Libya their first International Footballing title by…take a wild guess…losing in penalties in the final of the African Nations Championship, the continent’s lower level tournament (but don’t tell Libya that):
The Black Stars have a sound nucleus of talent and continue to be THE west African powerhouse as evidenced by what they have managed to accomplish, and the positions they have managed to put themselves.
No one knows what the future holds for Ghana, but we’ve seen enough agony that it can’t get much worse can it?
I thought the exact same thing in the waning minutes on Sunday. Unfortunately, it always can.