It has been a happy, welcoming return for Kwesi Appiah and his men to Kumasi. Sunday will mark 568 days since the Black Stars last played in the Garden City. In that game, a late Jordan Ayew goal was the final nail in the coffin for a Comoros side that had played resiliently over two legs. The Ashanti Regional capital, for what it’s worth, is a slaughterhouse for the Black Stars. The team has not lost in the city in a very long time and with the Ethiopians coming to town, it looks like that statistic will be intact.
The Stars pitched camp in Kumasi on Monday, have gone through intensive training sessions, gone through the technical aspects, done some philanthropic work and as has been the norm now anytime they visit Kumasi; paid a courtesy call to the custodian of the Kumasi land Otumfour Osei Tutu. The Stars look in good shape ahead of this one. For many of the players, this means a lot – a launchpad to greater things in their careers.
Appiah picked 7 local players including all three goalkeepers, and some other new faces including Raphael Dwamena, Thomas Adjepong, Isaac Sackey and Lumor Agbenyenu.
“It is really an honour to be called up to represent my nation. It gives me so much joy. I’ll strive to do my best for the country,” Dwamena told 3news.com in an interview. Dwamena’s story is as inspiring as football stories get. From the streets of Nkawkaw to Sogakope and then to Europe to start from nowhere. He is now the beacon of hope for Ghana’s consistently inadequate strike force. The inclusion of the local boys has brought a bit of the lost love back into the side. Something Kwesi Appiah sought to restore and is in a process of achieving.
The game against Ethiopia will be one many Ghanaians will be looking forward to. Appiah’s first competitive game back as coach of the Black Stars, playing in a city where he reigned as captain of its most popular club. The storylines are exciting. And there’s nothing he would want more than a win to crown the moment. Ghana has played Ethiopia 3 times in the past dating back to 1963 when both countries had their most revered leaders as heads of state. The Black Stars have lost once to the Ethiopians; winning the remaining two with the most recent one in 2014.
The fans in Kumasi will not want anything less than a win. Appiah knows and he’ll have to deploy the men who will be “blood thirsty” on a day when everything will be at stake. Kumasi is a happy ground for the Black Stars and whatever be the case, the fans will obviously be the 12th man.
By Yaw Ofosu Larbi|TV3|3FM|3news.com