After finishing third at two years ago on home soil, 2010 was supposed to be the year, for Ghana to justify their tag among the top teams on the continent.
The Black Stars where the first African team after hosts, South Africa to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. They had quite a comfortable qualifying campaign in a group that also had Mali, Benin and Sudan.
The Black Stars reached the 2006 tournament in Germany under former coach of Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars Ratomir Dujkovic. With that in mind, Ghana became many people’s favourite along with Ivory Coast to deny champions Egypt a third successive African title.
But just as fate would have it, both were pooled in the same group for the 2010 Nations Cup in Angola. With Togo and Burkina Faso completing the group, it was labelled the ‘group of death’.
Unfortunately, the Togolese team was attacked by gun-men two days before the start of the tournament, which led to them withdrawing from the tournament.
Ghana had been scheduled to start with Togo and Ivory Coast with Burkina Faso but things changed after the Togo issue and the Black Stars made their first outing against the Elephants.
Without Appiah, Muntari, Pantsil and with Essien half fit, the inexperienced Black Stars were dominated by a highly experienced Ivory Coast, who themselves were under a lot of pressure to not only get a result but do it with some style.
That result left Ghana in quite a very uncomfortable situation where they need to beat Burkina Faso because anything less and they are out of the competition at the first hurdle.
Ivory Coast seized the opportunity and punished their West African rivals with a dominant display of good football and clinical finishing but most importantly maturity to the extent that you could feel sorry for the youngsters, who were put in at the deep end of sea.
Even Essien’s introduction at halt time couldn’t change anything.