The Black Stars of Ghana have qualified for the next World Cup tournament dubbed as South Africa 2010, even with two games in hand. With their 2-0 victory Sudan in Accra last Saturday, the Ghanaian national team is now the first African side to make it South Africa 2010, alongside Brazil (South America), North Korea (Asia) and the Netherlands (Europe). So the Ghanaian technical team can afford to field its second-eleven team for the remaining two matches, since they do not add up anything.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Ghana was the dominant force in African football, rivaled only by Cameroon and Egypt. The Black Stars have won the Nations Cup four times, a record beaten only by Egypt and Cameroon. But for some reason, Ghanaian football nosedived in the 1980s and 1990s, with it struggling to give a good account of itself at the coveted continental football showpiece. It was even more worrying that with all its successes on the continent, Ghana never made it to the World Cup until 2006.
It is a period that strangely coincided with Ghana's economic resurgence. About the time that Ghanaian football was in the doldrums, its economy was equally in a shambles. The moment Ghana got it right politically, both its economy and football picked up correspondingly.
In their debut appearance at the last World Cup - Germany 2006 - the Black Stars were impressive and purposeful, qualifying from their group stage onto the second round where they lost out gallantly. Since then, the Black Stars have been doing exceedingly well, grabbing third place at the last Nations Cup.
It is the same sense of purpose that they have brought to bear on the qualification campaign for the 2010 World Cup. While the rest of the continent are still on tenterhooks over qualifying for the tournament, the Ghanaians already have a head start, working up strategies and tactics that will give them a competitive edge at the mega event. The Ghanaian success story is a testimony to foresight, discipline and determination.
The Ghanaian football authorities would therefore be wise to pay up the coach's qualification bonus in good faith.
Qualifying for a tournament, and doing well at the tournament is a different matter all together. It is up to the Black Stars to remain focused between and next June when the tournament will kick off. At the tournament, they should conduct with same discipline that has earned early qualification. Success breeds success.
"Sport is something that does not matter, but is performed as if it did. In that contradiction lies its beauty".