CASH FOR THE MEN, MISERY FOR THE BOYS: Ghana’s Day to Forget in Fukuoka
In the end, after enjoying themselves a bit too much than they had bargained for, Japan might have reason to complain about not exactly getting value for money.
They did, after all, spend a small fortune on bringing Ghana’s U-23 (U-24?) national team to their country for a pre-Olympic test, in the belief that the Black Meteors would offer a semblance of what the Japanese could expect from Group A mates South Africa a little later in the summer.
That decision might have been informed by the fact that Ghana finished just one spot-kick worse than Amaglug-glug at last year’s U-23 Africa Cup of Nations, but, as Japan found out (to their delight? disappointment?) on Saturday, the gulf between the two African sides is probably wider than Emmanuel Cudjoe’s poor penalty over a year ago.
South Africa, for a fact, would be a much sterner test for Japan than Ghana proved. This was a walk in the park — think of a stroll, nice and easy, through the Aburi Gardens on a breezy day — for Japan, as they made light work of Paa Kwesi Fabin’s team.
In a land where two devastating bombs once reduced entire cities to near-nothingness, Japan dropped six goals — three in each half — to completely pulverise a Ghana side that looked just like what it was: cobbled together to grab a quick buck.
In fact, the only thing more ridiculous than the score-line — even more ridiculous than the way Fabin, or whichever unseen hand(s) might have played a part, handed out the call-ups — was the timing and rationale that explained Ghana’s mission in a country that isn’t quite ready to welcome guests even for the upcoming Games.
If you have any sympathies, though, don’t waste them on the Ghana Football Association (GFA) which sanctioned this mother of all meaningless friendlies; save them, instead, for the players (especially the home-based guys, some of whom were also summoned for the similarly humiliating, similarly pointless trip to Uzbekistan only a few months ago) that were scattered all over the pitch in Fukuoka like sheep without a shepherd.
They could have had a much better — or, at worst, relatively quieter — weekend in the Ghana Premier League, playing for clubs that actually need their services as the season enters its home straight, but here they were, their inferiority exposed against a Japanese juggernaut powered by a highly-rated youngster on the books of Real Madrid (and who was bred by Barcelona’s La Masia, for good measure).
Worse yet, the misery isn’t quite over. Ghana have three more games on their East Asian tour (could we call it that, at least, just to put some gloss on this nonsense?), the next of which is on Wednesday against… well, Japan.
Hopefully, our hosts — and South Korea (2x), days later — would be kinder, and less surprised, this time.