( Part one was basically about pre-tournament preparations and the challenges faced, can also be found right here.)
At the tournament itself, the princesses seemed unsettled from the first blast of the referee’s whistle. The nervy start led to a sixth minute goal for the hosts, France, and it looked bleak from there with the only moments of encouragement coming within the first 20 minutes of the second half when it seemed like a comeback was on the cards after Sandra Owusu Ansah pulled one back with some nimble footwork which deceived both defender and keeper, though the comeback never really materialised. It was however difficult to understand why the team couldn’t put in the same performance in the first half as they did in the second half.
Could it be that they were intimidated by the wonderful support the hosts received or they just weren’t ready for the game? A late goal, caused by some lousy set-piece defending, further compounded the woes of the already demoralized princesses and put extra pressure on them to defeat debutants, Holland, a few days later. Coach Basigi rung in the changes for the game against the Dutch with the most notable absentee being Rafia Alhassan Kulchirie. The changes seemed to work magic, with the princesses dominating play for the first quarter of an hour, only for them to unbelievably collapse completely within the next quarter. Three goals within 18 minutes virtually ended any chance of qualifying to the next stage of the competition, with yet another goal late on adding insult to injury. After the game, Coach Basigi lamented the chances missed within that 15 minutes of dominance, while basically accusing his fullbacks of not doing enough to nullify the wing play of their Dutch counterparts.
The tournament may have been a total disaster but certain players proved their worth in France. Players like defenders Philicity Asuako and Shine Agbomadzi proved that in the near future they can anchor the Black Queens defence. Other standout performers include, goalkeeper Martha Annan, midfield anchors Grace Asantewaa and Ernestina Abambila, as well as 16 year old Rafia Alhassan Kulchirie and forward Sandra Owusu Ansah (who proved that she can be a deadly poacher if given the right kind of service).
At this point, rebuilding the team for the next tournament in 2020 is very necessary since some players won’t be eligible to play at that tournament. In rebuilding this team, the search for a playmaker needs to be intensified since the services of a playmaker were very much lacking in France. In terms of talent in women’s football at this level, Ghana isn’t far behind Nigeria and probably with the right course of training and management, the Black Princesses of Ghana could well become a force to reckon with on the world stage.
Long Live Women’s Football,
Long Live Ghana Football,
Long Live World Football!