I sought to establish whether the data supports the perception that Ghana football at the national level (men) is on the decline by reviewing Africa Cup of Nations data over the last three decades between 1994 and 2024. The review also sought to establish the extent of the perceived decline.
The findings thus cover only the last 30 years and not the period before.
- The Stars have never won the AFCON in the last three decades.
- The Stars qualified for 15 out of 16 AFCONs stage during the review period. Ghana’s qualification rate for AFCONs is 94%.
- The Stars reached the finals twice. The Stars reached 13% of the Finals in the AFCONs Ghana participated in.
- The Stars reached the semis or above 7 times. This means, that in 47% of the AFCONs participated Ghana reached the semis or above.
- The very best period for the Stars at AFCON in the last 3 decades was the decade between 2008 and 2018. Ghana reached the Finals twice and the Semis four times.
- After reaching the Finals in 2015, the Stars began to progressively decline to the Semis (2017), 1/8 Finals (2019), Group Stage (2021/2) and Group Stage (2024). The trend after 2015 (red line) clearly shows a decline in recent years. During this same period, the Stars have had 7 different coaches.
- To confirm this decline, it is important to note that in the last 10 matches at AFCONs (2019, 2021 & 2024), the Stars won only one match in regulation time. In other words, the Stars have won only 10% of their last 10 AFCON matches. The last AFCON match the Stars won was some 4 years plus ago against Guinea-Bissau in July 2019.
- In the last 3 AFCONs, the Stars have failed to beat nations such as Benin, Gabon, Comoros and Mozambique.
- This is the first time over the review period that the Stars have failed to qualify from the Group stages on two consecutive occasions ie 2021/2 and 2024.
- Aside from our inability to qualify for the AFCON in 2004, Ghana has had its worst run in the last 6 years. By the Stars’ own standard, this is a very poor run of form.
The data and evidence from the last 16 AFCONs point to a recent steep decline in the Stars’ performance after peaking in 2008 – 2018 decade.
The Stars have declined to the point where they are now unable to get beyond the group stages, even with the help of all the scientific calculators.
Football governance in Ghana needs a major shake-up. Areas to be addressed include the poor development programmes for young players (youth football programmes), poor local league, poor preparation for AFCONs, poor commitment levels of players, unhealthy team politics, selection of the right qualified and experienced coaches/technical bench and players, and disputes over remuneration, among others.
If Ghana has changed 7 coaches since 2017, it is clear that the problem we face is bigger than just the coaches or technical bench. We cannot stop at the dismissal of Chris Houghton and his technical team. A long-term strategy is needed for Ghana football.
Ghana will not just drift to the top. An evidence-informed plan followed by meticulous implementation is what will take us to the top in this age of scientific approaches to the game.
Continuing along the same path amounts to wasting scarce national resources. We simply cannot afford to continue with business as usual.
Some are asking for changes at the level of the Min of Sports and GFA. Since this is highly unlikely, a more feasible recommendation will be to task the Min of Sports and GFA with developing and presenting a long-term plan for Ghana football. This plan must be presented within a stipulated time interval.
Ghana may also wish to consider taking a hiatus from the AFCON as part of the reorganisation and rebuilding process.
The evidence points to deep-rooted systemic challenges that require significant changes and not just cosmetic superficial tweaks.
May this very poor showing at the 2024 AFCON serve as a wake-up call for Ghana and facilitate the urgently needed overhaul of the governance and management of football in Ghana.
Kofi Amekudzi (2024)
A concerned Black Stars supporter
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