With barely 16 days to the FIFA 2022 World Cup tournament in Qatar, Members of Parliament (MPs) have been urged to support Ghana’s senior national football team, the Black Stars towards achieving a memorable performance.
Mr Mustapha Ussif, the Minister of Youth and Sports, in a statement on the floor of the Parliament on Friday, informed the House that the tournament, which opens on November 20 and concludes on December 18, was expected to be the biggest football festival since 1930.
The statement was meant to brief members of the House on Ghana’s preparation and participation at the FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022.
Ghana qualified for Qatar 2022 after beating archrival, Nigeria in a two-legged playoff in March this year.
The Minister said Ghana’s preparation towards Qatar 2022 was progressing along designed strategy to ensure utmost performance.
He noted that through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Government was providing the needed resources and facilitation across relevant areas incorporating the technical team, playing body, organised support and the backing of the entire nation towards achieving a memorable participation and performance.
“As of today, the tournament is exactly 16 days from kick off as host Qatar takes on Group A opponents, Ecuador, the Black Stars will play against Portugal in Group H, four days later,” the Minister said.
Adding that Uruguay and South Korea were the other group opponents that the Black Stars would compete with for a place in the round of 16.
Mr Ussif said the Qatar 2022 World Cup would be Ghana’s fourth appearance in the global showpiece; declaring that Ghana’s first appearance was in Germany in 2006, where the Black Stars impressively reached the round of 16 stage following defeat to five-time champions, Brazil.
He said the Black Stars appeared consecutively in South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 before failing to reaching Russia 2018.
“A return to the global arena affords Ghana the opportunity to showcase our nation, culture and football to the rest of the world,” he stated.
“The occasion will also be a chance to better our highest performance of a quarter final finish in South Africa 12 years ago.”
Mr Ussif said about 190 nations played in the qualifiers for the Qatar 2022, and Ghana was one of just 32 nations to successfully qualify for the competition.
This achievement, the Minister said could not be overlooked due to the failure of the more illustrious nations to reach the mundial.
He said four-times winners and reigning European Champion, Italy and several other high-profile nations failed to qualify.
He said achieving the qualification in itself was a big motivation and with enhanced resourcefulness towards preparation, they were confident of performing optimally in Qatar.
Mr Ussif said the Government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports had been collaborating efficiently with the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to prepare the various aspects of Ghana’s participation in Qatar 2022.
“Our target is to better our performance at South Africa 2010, which remains Africa’s best outing in FIFA World Cup history,” the Minister said.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader in his contribution to the statement commended the technical people and the other handlers of the Black Stars for a peaceful team preparation towards Qatar 2022.
He also urged Ghana’s to give the senior national team the needed support to triumph in the Qatar 2022 tournament.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, said undoubtedly football remains the best uniter of the country; saying “I mean if there is any activity which unites this country and keeps us together, it is football, particularly the Black Stars of Ghana”.
“What I didn’t hear more from the Minister is what is it that you are doing to support our supporters to be in Qatar?” he quizzed.
“Because when you mention culture, our culture is better demonstrated sometimes by the jama group, because don’t forget your crew of technical men and footballers would be displaying football, those who would share who we are and what we stand for, probably maybe the supporters, who would be accompanying.”