Ghana’s Black Stars are definitely not Ghanaians’ favourite group at the moment.
Massive controversies and poor results have soured the relationship between the previously adoring fans and the side, which is still searching for a first major trophy since 1982.
The jury is still out on the Ghana Football Association’s “Bring Back the Love” campaign, which was conceived to turn around the largely negative sentiments towards the Stars.
One way to “bring back the love” is to remind fans of the better moments, and there have been many, in their [recent] history. It hasn’t been all bad for the Black Stars.
Here are five times the Black Stars made the country proud in the last two decades.
Qualifying for Ghana’s first-ever World Cup in 2006
Despite being noted as one of the continent’s best footballing teams one of its most successful nations – with four African Cup of Nations titles – a black stain remained in Ghana’s history.
The failure of the Black Stars to qualify for the World Cup was a major dent in their credentials and a large cloud that hung over the team as they began qualification for the 2006 World Cup.
Being in a group with DR Congo, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Uganda seemed manageable enough but it ultimately turned out to be more difficult than they envisaged.
After a bad start to the qualification campaign, with two wins from their first six matches, the Black Stars ended strongly, winning their last four matches and sealing qualification to their first-ever World Cup.
This sparked celebrations around the country with many Ghanaians revelling in their inclusion, finally, at football’s top table.
Qualifying for the Round of 16 at World Cup 2006
Making the World Cup tournament alone would usually be enough for fans of any first-time qualifier. But for Ghana’s proud football fans, it was the minimum expected of the nation’s incredibly talented team. They expected this team to go as far as possible but once the draw was made, that task became way more difficult.
They were grouped with the USA and Czech Republic, who were at the time ranked in the world’s top five, and Italy who had some of the world’s best players. Winning a game now seemed improbable, let alone making it out of the group.
A 2-0 loss to Italy in the first game deepened that apprehension but wins over the Czech Republic (2-0) and USA (2-1) sealed a spot in the Round of 16 for Ghana at the first time of asking. Even getting turned over by the star-studded Brazil team couldn’t dent this massive achievement.
Reaching the semis of the 2008 AFCON
Hosting the AFCON in 2008 meant huge expectations from Ghanaians for the squad.
They expected the Black Stars to capitalise on the home support to go as far as possible at the tournament.
And capitalise they did.
Finishing top of a group that included Namibia, Guinea and Morocco, and winning all three games made the Black Stars early favourites to go all the way.
A late win in the quarters against their fiercest rivals Nigeria only added to the party atmosphere in the country which wasn’t dampened too much by a 1-0 loss to Cameroon in the semis.
Reaching the final of the 2010 AFCON
The success of Ghana’s youth team at the U-20 World Cup in the previous year meant the Black Stars had a solid backup squad to call on for the 2010 AFCON.
What most Ghanaians didn’t expect that the players from the Black Satellites would actually become the core of the squad due to injuries to some key players.
Along with a few of the old guard, the Black Stars went on an amazing run through the competition on the back of lowered expectations.
That team only failed to win the trophy because of a late goal for Egypt in the final but their impressive run had lifted the nation’s spirits.
Reaching the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup.
Not even the most optimistic Ghanaian fan could have predicted how far the team would go, how well they’d play at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The Stars did enter the tournament as one of Africa’s biggest hopes and a win, a draw and a narrow loss to Germany later, they were in the Round of 16.
Asamoah Gyan’s extra-time winner against the USA took Ghana through to the quarter-finals and made the Black Stars the neutrals’ favourite team.
The loss to Uruguay on penalties may be considered the biggest heartbreak in Ghana’s football history by some but it did not, in any way diminish the side’s absolutely wonderful tournament. They really did make us all proud.