The Black Stars management committee chairman has revealed the reasons behind the team’s inability to play enough friendly matches ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
The Black Stars have pitched camp in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and are scheduled to play a low-profile friendly against Uzbekistan side Bunyodkor later on Tuesday, January 10.
The team will play a second friendly with a yet-to-be named opponent before the tournament starts.
However the Ghana Football Association (GFA) has come under the spotlight for the team’s lack of test matches. Many have also argued that the team’s inability to line up against formidable oppositions could prove costly when the tournament begins in Gabon.
But George Afriyie, who is the vice president of the GFA, has explained that a series of issues, including funding have accounted for the Black Stars’ inability to play enough friendly matches.
“Per our programmes, in most of our international competitions and in most of our tournaments we plan to play maximum three matches – or at least two matches. This has always been the programme. But unfortunately for us [this time] we are not in the best of times.”
”Remember that in our original programme which was drawn way back about three months [ago], we had scheduled to play two matches. And the arrangement was that as soon as we get here; by the next three or four days we should play the first match then later, three days after, we play the second match.
“… now remember that at the time we were leaving home (Ghana) because of the change of government and the seemingly tension and confusion between the FA and the [sports] ministry, releasing funds or getting funds to fund some of our activities was going to be very difficult.
“Especially when we had the minister saying he wanted the team to camp in Equatorial Guinea and the management of the team was also bent on camping in Abu Dhabi. So that actually accounted for [the GFA’s inability] to raise funds to fund these programmes.”
The GFA vice president added that the kind of opposition that Ghana plays in the friendlies should not be a major concern, insisting the most important thing is to get the team in shape ahead of the tournament in Gabon.
“It’s not too much important the kind of opponent we play. We have done it before. Remember two years ago when we were preparing for the AFCON and we were camping in Spain we had to play club sides. And so this is not the first time.”
He also reiterated the GFA’s stance that having the Black Stars camp in Dubai was best for the team, citing opponents Uganda and Morocco’s decision to camp in the Asian country as proof of that.
“Choosing this area [Dubai] as a camping base was ideal because definitely there were opponents [also camping here] and we have always asked our agents to arrange these things.”
On the preparations of the Black Stars so far George Afriyie said “it has been going on very well” and added that “the boys [players] are responding very well to training”.
The Black Stars will battle Uganda, Egypt and Mali in group D for a place in the knockout rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.