Ghana's Black Stars get into the World Cup groove
If I'm lucky enough to be selected for that assignment, I might well see Ghana in their third World Cup appearance on the trot. They still have a long way to go to emulate perennial World Cup contenders like Germany and Brazil, but the Black Stars seem to be settling into the groove.
I was in Germany four years ago when they made their World Cup debut and they faced a daunting first match.
It was against Italy who effectively showed them how to perform on the international stage.
After the match, the Ghana players all trooped through the "mixed zone" for media interviews all bleary-eyed. They knew they’d fluffed their lines.
A few of them, and especially the then captain Stephen Appiah, vowed that the true face of Ghanaian football would be on show in the next game.
That next fixture just happened to be against the world’s second-best side, the Czech Republic, who had wiped the floor with the United States in their first game and boasted the midfield gifts of Pavel Nedved, Tomas Rosicky, Karel Poborsky and a man-mountain of a forward in Jan Koller.
By the end of the 90 minutes in Cologne we were all looking for Nedved and Rosicky. Couldn’t find them. The were in the pockets of Appiah and Michael Essien. The Black Stars won 2-0 and the same players came through the mixed zone in Cologne, professionally refreshed and refashioned, their teeth shining brightly.
Now Ghana field a host of youngsters, many of whom were in the side that won the under-20 World Cup last October. Some of those kids were in the squad that got to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola in January and they displayed maturity in seeing off a self-destructive Serbia on Sunday night.
Ghana’s next game against Australia later this week could see them advance to the last 16 for a second time.
The upshot of that progress will be a palpable international consistency, the downside of it will be that the youngsters will no longer be able to brandish the callow-youth card when they mess up.
It will be interesting to see whether those of tender years will be able to cope with being a scalp.