Ghana’s experiences at sports’ greatest event have brought a bit of everything
Mens’ football at the 2016 Summer Olympics, hosted by Rio (and five other Brazilian cities), kicks off on August 4. Conspicuously missing will be Ghana, with the west Africans missing a third consecutive edition.
How good (or poor) have they’ve been, though, on the occasions when they have graced the festival?
KickerGH sums their six appearances up:
Italy withdrawing from Group D meant Ghana had only two sides to compete with in the first round of its Olympic bow. The first, Argentina, managed to hold the Charles Kumi Gyamfi’s charges to a 1-1 draw, but the debutants improved to swat the hosts aside 3-2 in the final group game despite going behind twice. That outcome ensured both Ghana and Japan made it through to the knockout rounds where heavy losses to the United Arab Republic (now Egypt) and Romania saw the Ghanaians crash out empty-handed but with their pride fairly intact.
MEXICO 1968/MUNICH 1972
Ghana’s next two appearances at the event were altogether forgettable. Two draws — with Hungary and El Salvador — and a heavy defeat to Israel meant the side which starred the likes of Robert Mensah, Charles Addo Odametey and Malik Jabir couldn’t even make it out of their group, after replacing Morocco (who refused to play Israel) as one of Africa’s three representatives at Mexico ’68. The experience that followed, at Munich ’72, was even worse, as Ghana succumbed to successive 4-0 defeats by East Germany and Poland, before bowing out last with a 3-1 hammering at the hands of Colombia. Horror.
Two decades would pass before Ghana made another appearance at the Olympics but, this time, they made it count. Sam Arday’s bright young things opened and ended the campaign with wins over Australia, and doing just enough overall to return with bronze. That their only loss — en route to becoming Africa’s first medallists in Olympic football history — came against hosts and eventual victors Spain certainly was testament to that batch’s legendary class, with Kwame Ayew’s remarkable six-goal haul also a major highlight.
Four years later, Ghana still felt empowered with the licence to dream, perhaps to even outdo the previous feat in Barcelona. Going as far as the quarter-finals, they held Brazil for a full hour, before being pinned by two goals which sealed a 4-2 elimination.
The world wouldn’t see Ghana at the Sydney Games, but it did when Greek capital Athens welcomed the show in 2004. That experience may not have yielded much, but it served up thrills aplenty. Only a late rally from Italy robbed the Black Meteors of a shock opening win, while the Ghanaians turned on their own comeback show to snatch all points from Paraguay in the second group game. And though Los Guaranies went on to finish losing finalists, they only made it ahead of Ghana in qualifying from Group B after the latter bowed 1-0 to Japan in their last match.