Africa Women’s Cup Of Nation: Can Black Queens Host And Win?

The 11th edition of the TOTAL Africa Women’s Cup of Nation starts tomorrow, and Ghana, hosts the rest of Africa for the first time since the inception of the tournament. The senior female national team, the Black Queens who are in Group A, will be playing at the Accra Sports Stadium with The Fennecs of Algeria, Les Aiglonnes of Mali and the Indomitable Lionness of Cameroun. The Cape Coast Stadium will host 10 time winners, the Super Falcons of Nigeria, Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea, Banyana Banyana of South Africa and the She-polopolo of Zambia all paired in Group B. Quite strangely, even though Ghana has missed out just once since the maiden edition in 1991, the Queens have never won the trophy. Ghana were runners up in 1998, 2002 and 2006. The Queens again placed third in 2000, 2004 and 2016. However, this years’ tournament should provide a great opportunity for Ghana to break the jinx and annex the elusive title for the first time. The Black Queens have been in camp since August with a few trial games at the Ghanaman Soccer Centre of Excellence in Prampram, as competitive football has stalled after the expose on corruption in Ghana football. Again, they had a training tour in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and the Northern Regions. Last week, they had three international friendlies with Kenya, Zambia and South Africa to fine-tune their preparations. In all, it has not been a classy preparation for the Queens as key team members even joined from their bases in Europe few weeks to the start of the championship, and this may hinder team cohesion.
However, with the experience of Faustina Ampah, Samira Suleman, Priscilla Okyere, Patricia Mantey, Nana Ama Asantewaa coupled with the tactical abilities of Coach Bashiru Hayford and his assistant Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo, the team should at least be able to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in France next year by finishing at least as bronze medalists. The tournament organization has also left a lot to be desired. Delayed renovation works at the two stadia coupled with low publicity among many other difficulties, have rocked the championship to the extent that the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) even considered stripping the country the rights to host the tournament. Ghana won the bid to host the tournament in December 2016 but actual preparations started four months ago. With pressure mounting and time running out, officials pressured the various contractors to hurriedly finish their projects. Hopefully, the hasty manner with which the projects were executed would have great returns on the 12.5 million Ghana Cedis investment made.
Ghana may not be fully ready for the tournament, but it is enough at least for now to get the approval of CAF. Between now and December 1 when the final match is played, all eyes will be on Ghana. Thousands of tourists, football enthusiasts, journalists, scouts and visitors from across the world would visit our country to have a feel of the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality. It is in this vein that the various security agencies are tasked to rise up to the occasion. Provide adequate protection for everyone and scrutinize their activities to forestall any eventuality. Artise like Wiyaala, Grace Ashie and Patapaa have all composed songs to inspire the Queens to victory, but the euphoria has not still caught up with the larger populace. There may be no replica jerseys, paraphernalia, billboards and the likes to remind Ghanaians about the impending tournament, but the few hopeful and passionate women’s football followers remain optimistic that Ghana will HOST and WIN.
BY: EMMANUEL ADU-GYAMFI, A SPORTS JOURNALIST.

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