The 11th edition of the Total African Women’s Cup of Nations is underway in Ghana. Eight of Africa’s finest teams are locking horns for a chance to grab the trophy. The opening ceremony was flawless and it is good to know that the Accra Sports Stadium pitch is in good condition. The Black Queens of Ghana beat the Fennecs of Algeria by a solitary goal. Many people I’ve interacted with have asked a question which as a Ghanaian fan I’d have liked to answer in the affirmative. Can the Black Queens win the ultimate prize? This question cannot simply be answered with a YES or a NO. I told people that the team has the quality but the lack clinical finishing could come back to haunt them. Against Algeria, the Queens could have won by a greater margin had they converted the numerous chances they created especially during the second half. At a point in time, coach Bashir Hayford kept shaking his head knowing that their poor finishing would haunt them later. There were positives from the first game and the brightest gem in the game, Sherrifatu Sumaila, proved that she could be a force to reckon with winning the Total Player of the Match. The Ghanaian #7 made some good forays into the Algerian box but the chances couldn’t be converted.
The second game against Mali yesterday was controversial in every aspect. From the issue of the availability of tickets to team selections down to poor refereeing decisions. Coach Hayford surprisingly decided to drop his captain, Elizabeth Addo, and I still can’t tell why he’d do that. Once again, the problem of poor finishing and decision making reared its ugly head in the game. That said, from my point of view that had nothing to do with Ghana’s loss. We didn’t lose to a better team, we just lost to a team assisted by the referee. The referee was poor and it didn’t surprise me that she gave a penalty that was controversial to the Malians. After that it was just every decision against Ghana! Penalty calls; turned down, free-kick appeals; thrown down the drain, offside decisions; questionable and a throw in given to the Malians even after the 4th official who was closer to the action said it was a Ghanaian ball. Coach Hayford launched a scathing attack on the referee stating that she helped the Malians and denied Ghana 3 clear penalties. Then there were the goalkeeping mistakes here and there but as a goalkeeper myself, I refuse to place the total blame goalkeeper Patricia Mantey for any of the goals. She spilled the ball for the second goal yes, but her defenders could have done a better job reacting to the rebound, anyway that is past. I could speak about the referee all night but it isn’t worth it. A blatant push in the penalty box was deemed as “diving” and she totally frustrated our ladies.
With that game gone, we face an uphill battle against the already qualified Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon. Defensively we’re going to have to be perfect and defensive tower Faustina Ampah #15 (nicknamed VVD after Liverpool’s #4) is going to have to be ready for a battle.
And we need to be more clinical to stand a chance of qualifying. The Cameroonians are very technical in their play and it’s going to be very difficult to beat them. The Queens need the home support and I urge all who can to come to the Accra Sports Stadium early on Friday afternoon to cheer them on #GoGhana