It is tough being the Ghana national football team. When you win you get criticised for being rudderless and unimaginative, and when you play well, you only manage a draw.
The one-all tie with Libya at the Free State Stadium in the African Nations Championship (Chan) Group C was met with dismay by the travelling Ghanaian media, although the performance was aesthetically better than in the 1-0 win over Congo last Monday.
The Black Stars were out of the starting blocks like greyhounds on a racetrack against Libya, scoring in the sixth minute through the irrepressible Yahaya Mohammed of Asante Kotoko.
But a complete second half turnaround in momentum allowed Libya an equaliser — albeit a dubious one — through a penalty by Faisal Ali, after Mohamed Ghanudi was deemed to have been fouled.
Libya still top Group C on goal difference, tied on four points with Ghana, while the Republic of Congo are not out of the competition yet, and sit just one point behind in third position.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong in particular with our team,” said coach Maxwell Konadu after his team’s draw.
“The boys played their best game of the tournament on Friday and I am happy that we are lifting our game match after match.
“When you take the lead and concede a late goal to end up with only a draw, it always seems as if you lost the match.
“But let us not forget that Libya is a wonderful side, and they also came here to win.
“We played better in the first half but Libya had a good go in the second. We just need to remain calm and make sure that we play even better in our third match and continue our game-by-game improvement,” Konadu said.
Ghana are Africa’s pacesetters over the past decade. Their under-20 team was the first African team to win the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009 and their senior side almost became the first to make the semifinals of a World Cup, in South Africa four years ago. And they blew Egypt away with a 7-3 aggregate victory in the final round of the Brazil World Cup qualifiers last November.
These and many other achievements have meant that the team is always under pressure to win every time they don the black and white kit.
“Pressure is on all the teams, not only on Ghana,” Konadu said. “We are on the same points as Libya and no one has gone too far ahead in the group, so the pressure is on everyone.
“We have to prepare very well for Ethiopia. There is not much we can do about the pressure on our team, it is part of football, we just have to move forward and make sure that we do better than we did in our previous game.”
Strikers Yahaya Mohammed and Sulley Mohammed are injury doubts for Tuesday’s game against Ethiopia at the Free State Stadium. Kick-off is at 7pm.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw, who guided his nation to its first African Nations Cup in more than 30 years last year, is contemplating resigning after a tough African Nations Championship outing.
The Walia Antelopes will catch the first flight out to Addis Ababa after their final match following two back-to-back defeats.
If the 2-0 loss to Libya was shocking then the 1-0 defeat to Congo last Friday was downright appalling. They have picked up no points during their stay in South Africa and their participation now is limited to a “spoiler” role — playing to ruin Ghana’s chances of qualification for the next round.
“I don’t know if I will resign yet. I will decide when I go back to Ethiopia,” Bishaw said.