The Senior National Football Team of Ghana; the Black Stars, have for many years, undergone severe back clash from Ghanaians following defeats in major international tournaments. The recent being their painful elimination from the AFCON competition after a defeat to a less known team from Comoros and losing all their matches at the group stage. Ghana’s exit from the tournament was the worst performance by Black Stars in AFCON tournament history.
It was truly painful for Ghanaians to bear after waiting tirelessly for some victory, any victory, from the Black Years in years. Ghanaians, as always, did not spare the black stars following their AFCON exit which led to the firing of the coach Milovan Rajevac. The backlash was severe on the Black Stars leading to the selection of the Borussia Dortmund talent development coach; Otto Addo as interim Coach by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) with very little time to prepare the team for the world cup qualifier matches with the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The following are 4 notable lessons worthy of learning from Black Stars’ painful defeat in AFCON to qualifying for the world cup all in the same year 2022.
Yes, winning the AFCON or at least making it through the group stages would have been amazing but qualifying for the World Cup is a much bigger goal and the Black Stars were well aware of this. As a result, they did not allow their defeat in the AFCON, and all the backlash they received from Ghanaians got to them in a way that demoralized them. They reviewed, re-strategized, changed leadership, revamped the team, prepared, and took on the challenge of qualifying for the World Cup. Today, everyone is celebrating them for attaining that goal.
Upon the appointment of interim coach Otto Addo, he rallied his players and got them to train behind closed doors at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi. This is very significant as it kept the players away from any further backlash or criticisms from fans and naysayers, getting them to focus on their training, building their mental capacity and preparing them for the daunting task ahead.
The first leg of the Black Stars versus Super Eagles match came off at the Baba Yaya Stadium in Kumasi with the stadium surprisingly filled with energized Ghanaians cheering the Black Stars on to victory against their arch-rivals. The stadium being full with fans was a pleasant sight to behold though astonishing following the severe backlash the Black Stars received from their AFCON defeat. This shows how forgiving and optimistic people can be when they witness you being focused and making progress towards your goal regardless of defeats and challenges.
Unfortunately, the Black stars failed to secure any goals on home grounds but succeeded in holding off the Super Eagles from scoring either resulting in a goalless draw. Though disappointed and with even more pressure to deliver on the opponent’s grounds in Abuja, Nigeria. Staying focused after their goalless draw in Ghana, the Black Stars proceeded to Nigeria and secured their place in the 2022 World Cup with a 1 all draw.
With every criticism, backlash, insults and treats the Black Stars has suffered in the past and even in recent times following their defeat in AFCON, it is such a relief to have qualified for the World Cup. Seeing the excitement of Ghanaians, from the presidency, to the officials, leadership of the team, players and citizens; is it true indeed that the best revenge is massive success. People may not forget your defeats but they cannot hide their excitement when you succeed especially when your success brings them some benefits or relieves.
In your life, you may have gone through some defeat, some disappointments, some heart breaks, some hurt and received some negative criticisms but do not allow them to derail you from your ultimate goal. Whatever you desire to become or achieve, the pursuit may not be smooth but your mind should be fully concentrated on pursuing and attaining the goal regardless of what people say or do. When your vision is clear, goals are well defied, objectives are properly set, mind is continuously being developed, confidence is sustainably high and attitude is right; your success is almost guaranteed if you do not give up on yourself and your dreams.
The rollercoaster ride of the Black Stars and the diverse reactions of Ghanaians at every turn should make it clear to you by now that success in your endeavour should be your ultimate goal. People will always talk and react but you must safeguard your mind from being affected by everything people say or do to you. Place more value on yourself and your ability to bounce back after any defeat rather paying attention to what others say and being depressed, discouraged or defeated. You are not a failure because you failed multiple times, you are a failure only when you decide to give up on yourself and your dreams.
I encourage you today to focus on the ultimate goal, learn from the process, get help when you need it, get up when you fall and keep going regardless, for the celebration lies at the point of success. Keep your eyes on the ball and keep moving regardless.