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FIFA World Cup Sports Minister still holds a glimpse of hope for Black Stars' qualification

Sports Minister Nii Lante believes the Black Stars can still qualify for the World Cup in Russia but failure could be a blessing in disguise for other sporting disciplines.

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play Sports Minister still holds a glimpse of hope for Black Stars' qualification

He is accused of antagonising the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and that has affected the Black Stars. Five games, zero wins has irked a section of the football fraternity and they believe he is at fault.

Going public with player bonuses, verbal exchanges with members of the FA, especially, president Kwesi Nyantakyi, denying the FA funds for 'indemnity payments' and calling for local players to be used for 'dead rubber' qualifiers are the chronicles of Nii Lante's supposed theatrics that has kept the football in this state.

Black Stars chances of reaching of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is bleak. The Einsteins insist the ticket to the Mundial is not out of reach. Nii Lante agrees. He is using the permutation to 'console himself' after the loss to Egypt last weekend.

One point from possible six is 'un-Black Stars'. This is a national team which has made participation in tournaments in the last decade a market square. However, the dream of making it to a fourth successive world cup is becoming a dream.

The thorns are pointed towards Nii Lante who was not disappointed with the performance of the team against Egypt who has made Ghana's chances of a next world cup berth a herculean one, but was sad the team lost.

He however, takes consolation in the fact that there are twelve more points at stake to be fought for, and he's certain the team will qualify.

"This [Egypt game] is one match we could have won. I think we played well; unfortunately, we did not bite enough. We played all the good game but our attack wasn't the best, our goal attempts were minimal, but I take consolation in the fact that there are still matches to be played. I would have wished we won this match," the MP for Odododiodio Constituency said in an interview with Viasat 1 Television.

Ghana camped in Dubai for the game against Egypt, a decision which was taken in consultation with the Sports Ministry, and the former sports journalist said the government did all they could to help the team win.

"As a ministry, as a government, we did everything possible to encourage the team to win and it's unfortunate we did not win. Sometimes that's what happens in football and I'm hoping the players themselves desirous of qualifying for the world cup would take the next matches seriously.

"We can beat Egypt here [in Ghana] handsomely. We can beat Congo (Brazzaville) home and away, and we can beat Uganda at their home. I am very optimistic we will still qualify."

Mr. Vanderpuye also called on Ghanaians to bury the past and throw their weight behind the team in subsequent games.

"I would want us not to dwell too much on the negatives. I am asking all Ghanaians to put the past behind us and let all of us put our spirit, mind, and support behind the Black Stars. We need to qualify for the World Cup and we need to do the best. I was a bit disappointed when I heard some people were jubilation when we lost [to Egypt]," he said.

Kwadwo Asamoah has not been part of the team since November 2014, Asamoah Gyan was not available against the Pharaohs, and their return to the team could change the fortunes of the team's journey to Russia according to the Sports Minister.

He attributed the current slump to the absence of Kwadwo Asamoah, a gentleman he termed as 'game changer.'

"I think with the return of Kwadwo Asamoah and Asamoah Gyan in the next match [will help the team]. I think the absence of Kwadwo Asamoah is one of the reasons why we're having a difficulty: he's a game changer, he's been magnificent in all our World Cup qualifiers and I think he coming back into the team will be helpful, let's pray injury does not take away any of our regular Stars."

And still on the absence of Stars, two prodigal sons were sent on exile for different alleged indiscipline two years ago. Sulley Muntari was suspended 'indefinitely for physically assaulting Moses Armah Parker' whilst Kevin Prince Boateng allegedly 'swore' at then coach Kwesi Appiah.

The atmosphere of late has called for the return of the duo, and Nii Lante seem toe on that lane. He believes any Ghanaian deemed fit to play for the Black Stars should be given equal chance.

"Every Ghanaian who has something to offer for the qualification of the Black Stars to the World Cup is welcome. Every Ghanaian everywhere who at every point in time is playing so well and need to play for the Black Stars is welcome."

The 2018 World Cup qualifiers began under his tutelage as head of the country's sports and his target is to see the Black Stars among the thirty-two best teams in Russia. He will feel bad if the team fails, but he reckon it could be a blessing in disguise for other sporting disciplines.

"I will feel bad but I will always say that 'football is not the only sport in this country'. Maybe this is the time for a different sport to excel. When we were winning world titles [in boxing] we were not doing anything in football.

"So if it is swung to football for a time [and we are not doing well], maybe, God wants us to excel in another sporting disciplines. When one is door is closed, many more are opened. Maybe we should focus our attention on other sporting disciplines. But I still believe that football is all not lost," he noted.

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