Milovan Rajevac steers Black Stars into promising new dawn, and now Ghana can dream again

The Black Stars defeated Zimbabwe 3-1 in Milovan Rajevac's first game in change since being reappointed as Ghana coach...

Milovan Rajevac steers Black Stars into promising new dawn, and now Ghana can dream again

In the airy Cape Coast stadium, the atmosphere was filled not just with celebratory songs and sweet melodies by the Ghana Supporters Union, but with a sense of calm, a sense of assurance that even if the ship hit a spiky rock, the team wouldn’t drown, but instead rise up to the occasion.

At times, Milovan Rajevac patrolled his sideline like a Maths teacher who was keenly invigilating a class test. Pacing slowly to and fro in that mannered, controlled way. As if to say he was enthusiastically counting every step. As if to say his every step on the touchline would impact the game one way or the other.

After 11 long years away, the man who put Ghana on the cusp of making the semis of the 2010 World Cup, was back at it again. Trying to resurrect a Black Stars whose soul and spirit had long been crucified. Milovan Rajevac, surprisingly, still doesn’t communicate in English, but if there were misgivings about his capacity to revive an ailing Black Stars, then this game dispelled all doubts, what’s more this game gave us a glimpse of what the senior men’s national team are capable of.

And so in the presence of merely 4,000 highly eager spectators, the Black Stars came out to dance, came out to enjoy themselves as though whatever it was that was at stake, it only mattered little. And that what they truly cared about was to produce a great spectacle and dance to the great tunes and then feast.

As the team spilled out from the changing room and into the dully lit 4pm sunshine to blurt out the national anthem, every trace of uneasiness and uncertainty seeped silently out from within the echoey stadium and into the vast, misty, blue sky. And yet, right after Musona Knowledge had converted his penalty just four minutes after the restart to cancel out Mohammed Kudus’s early opener, this thing called uneasiness had returned and reappeared.

Optimism had suddenly been replaced with uncertainty. Every faulty pass from the Black Stars began to draw a frown, a groan, a sense that it might be all too costly. So, when the clock ticked to 66, Arsenal’s Thomas Party conjured his own piece of magic. Weaving through the Zimbabwe defence and slotting, with aplomb, the ball into the far corner.

2-1 it was, cheers to life! If Partey’s goal was symbolic of how crucial he has become for the Black Stars, Mohammed Kudus’s early goal in the first half, was also emblematic of how, he, too, has become a sort of backbone for this team. His goal was pure artistry. Playing a delicious one-two with Jordan Ayew, who for much of this game cut a forlorn figure upfront, before drilling it past the Zimbabwe shot-stopper.

Here, in this very game, Kudus demonstrated his pure quality: his subtle and simple touches, the way he caressed the ball, his wily movements and ruthless conviction. It appeared, for much of this brilliant game, that the Black Stars were indeed enjoying themselves. Kamaldeen Sulemana, who was stationed on the left flank, tortured the Zimbwabwe defence with his tricks and pace. Fatawu Issahaku, the 17-year-old gem of RTU, deployed on the right side of attack, showed all who came to watch, his potential for greatness.

Jojo Wollacott, making his debut for the Black Stars, was a calm presence in goal, barking orders and gesticulating at the defence every now and then. He made an impressive save in the second half. But for giving away a penalty, Djiku’s partnership with Jonathan Mensah at the heart of defence was without blemish, was irreproachable. Baba Rahman was a constant menace down that left side of Ghana’s setup where he’s given the free rein to zip upfront and wreak havoc. His pin-point crosses offered the Black Stars an alternative way of attacking.

The Black Stars extended their lead to 3-1 in the 87th minute after a floating ball found the head of – who else, really? - Dede Ayew. It was, in other words, the icing on the cake.

And so this 3-1 sumptuous win, not only restored Ghana to 2nd place in Group G, but ushered in a new dawn under a coach who gave this entire footballing nation something worth more than gold and silver, something much purer, something unquantifiable.

Precious memories with Milovan Rajevac in the past, is what makes us all dream that maybe we can recreate it all again. Perhaps, only time will tell! But for now, the Blacks Stars made Ghana proud.

By Bright Antwi.

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf

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