Mr. Mustapha Ussif, the Minister of Youth and Sports, has rallied Ghanaians to support the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign of the senior national team, the Black Stars, as they gear up for the 2021 AFCON in Cameroun.
The Minister in a statement on the floor of Parliament said in less than a month, precisely from 9th January to 9th February 2022, Ghana would be at the ‘war front’ where the Black Stars would pitch itself with the rest of Africa in 2021 AFCON with the dream to see the Black Stars end the 40-year drought of the continental trophy.
“Mr Speaker, this dream of ours can only be realised through a united approach to the tournament,” Mr Ussif stated.
He used the opportunity to rally support for the Black Stars as they engage in another attempt to lift the trophy for the fifth time; adding that since 2008 when Ghana hosted the AFCON, the Black Stars had come so close on many occasions.
He noted the team made it to the semi-finals in 2008, qualified for the final in 2010, and lost to the winners, Egypt by a lone goal; saying “They made it to the semis again in 2012 and 2013, and got to the final again in 2015 and lost to Ivory Coast on penalties. In 2017, Ghana lost to Cameroon in the semi-finals”.
He said it was quite obvious from the above that the Black Stars had always come so close to winning the trophy.
“Mr Speaker, the wind of politics blowing through many aspects of our lives has in recent times permeated into our football, leaving the country divided even when the national teams are at the ‘war front’.
“And as we know, no nation can win a battle/war without unity and tenacity of purpose. It is precisely the reason why I stand here today to call for unity and support for the national team,” the Minister said.
“Mr Speaker, I entreat all of us, and all Ghanaians, regardless of party and religious affiliations, to rally behind our national team as they embark on another AFCON journey next month in Cameroon.”
Mr Ussif announced that the nation had raised from the Special Presidential Fundraising Campaign for the Black Stars and other national teams through corporate Ghana an amount of two million dollars.
He further appealed to those who were yet to fulfil their pledges to do so because there were many upcoming international competitions for our national teams.
He stated that there was a direct relationship between sponsorship, or corporate support and excellent performance of the national teams, especially the Black Stars; saying when Goldfields Ghana decided to invest in the national team, it reflected on output, and the Black Stars qualified for Ghana’s maiden senior men’s FIFA World Cup in 2006.
The Minister congratulated the Black Stars for their qualification to the AFCON and their impressive performance so far in the World Cup Qualifiers. He also commended the Ghana Football Association (GFA) for the manner in which they had steered the affairs of the Black Stars and urged them not to relent until the battle was won.
“Mr Speaker, I believe the Black Stars have what it takes to end the 40-year AFCON trophy drought but that can be realised if the team’s effort is complemented by our collective national support,” the Minister said.