There is a familiar feel to Ghana’s early exit from the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. As was the case four years ago in South Africa, when they fell in the last eight, the Black Stars were undone by some late twists.
It was in the 2010 world finals that the Ghanaians came within touching distance of becoming the first African side ever to reach the semi-finals of the tournament. Drawing 1-1 with Uruguay as their quarter-final went into injury time, the Black Stars were awarded a penalty, only for Asamoah Gyan to miss the spot-kick, with the Uruguayans then going on to win the tie in a penalty shootout.
Four years on and the Africans have experienced a similar fate, conceding late goals against USA and Portugal and seeing their hopes of progressing from Group H evaporate as a result.
“To say we’re disappointed is an understatement because we really wanted to get through the group phase,” Gyan told FIFA.com in the aftermath of his side’s 2-1 defeat to the Portuguese in Brasilia. “Even so, I think people back home in Ghana can be pleased with our performances. And no, we won’t be going back with heads bowed, because we played really well and we impressed everyone.”
The striker, who found the target against Portugal, remained upbeat despite his side’s elimination, while also recognising that their off-the-field problems had some part to play in their failed campaign: “We lacked concentration at times and we spoke about that in our team meetings. We couldn’t afford to give away silly goals but we did it again with Portugal’s second. It was a gift and we paid for it, which is all part of the game.”
As one of the most experienced members of the Black Stars line-up, Gyan offered his thanks to the squad and to its younger members in particular, for whom he predicted a bright future: “I’d like to express my gratitude to the team and to the younger guys especially, who I feel can go on and achieve big things. In four years’ time we’re going to have another chance to prove our worth.”
Russia here we come
The outlook is bright both for the team and Gyan himself, who is determined to be back in 2018: “No doubt about it. The fact is we’ve got a very young team, we’re still learning and we have a great future ahead of us. I’m one of the most experienced players in the team and I know we can come back and take the world by storm, just like we did in 2010. We’ve definitely got the talent to do that.
“Obviously I’d love to play in another World Cup,” he continued. “I’m 28 and I’m hoping to maintain my form over the next four years. If we qualify for Russia, it goes without saying that I want to be there. I hope God can protect me from injuries.”
One of the youngsters deserving of Gyan’s praise is Christian Atsu. Appearing in his first World Cup at the age of 22, the wide man found it hard to shake off the disappointment of Ghana’s elimination and take pride from fulfilling a dream that every player cherishes.
“We’re very sad about going out like this, but there’s not much we can do about it now,” lamented the speedy forward. “Naturally, I’m delighted to have had the chance to play in the World Cup, but right now all I feel is sadness, because we really wanted to make the last 16. And I think we deserved to as well.”
Like the elder statesman Gyan, Atsu is also optimistic as to what the future holds for a side not lacking in promise: “There’s no question we’ve got a young team with a lot going for it. With old hands like Asamoah Gyan around we can still achieve big things for Ghanaian and African football in the next few World Cups.”
All Ghana need to do that is learn from the harsh lessons of the last four years and make sure history does not repeat itself.