Ghana boasts five national stadia of the standard that could host its qualifying games in the quest to reach the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Of the lot — located in Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi, Tamale and Cape Coast — though, which is best suited for the upcoming assignments?
KickerGH profiles the quintet.
The capital has become increasingly difficult territory for the Black Stars, with the stands never quite getting filled up these days. Recent games — against the likes of Rwanda, Mozambique and Mauritius — do illustrate that point quite well. Interest has especially dwindled since Ghana’s mess at the 2014 Fifa World Cup and, the big clash late next year with Egypt aside, the Stars’ other home games in the series (against lowly Uganda and Congo) shouldn’t attract many. And, oh, the pitch sucks, too!
For long the Stars’ favourite home, Kumasi rocked the team in its cradle as it raced to Germany 2006 and still played that motherly role ever so jealously in the run to a third successive Fifa World Cup appearance in Brazil two years ago. But that love — reflected in the large numbers which turn up for games and the vociferous support they usually provide — has cooled since the aforementioned Brazil 2014 fiasco. If that embarrassment has only increased apathy from fans in Accra, Kumasi’s have become outright hostile. They [in]famously booed the team out of the Garden City against Uganda in September 2014 and, while one game has been hosted at the Baba Yara Stadium since, it’s unlikely the feelings have grown warm enough for a more permanent return when the Ugandans show up again next month.
For a city that’s produced two league champions as well as some of Ghana’s finest footballers (think the legendary E.J Aggrey-Fynn), Sekondi hasn’t seen much national football action. The prospects have improved somewhat since the construction of the stadium in Essipong ahead of the 2008 Nations Cup, and while it’s likely to be full of spectators when Ghana play, there is the accompanying problem of overcrowding that’s struck in the past when the Stars’ circus landed in that coastal city.
For all the reasons the Sekondi Stadium deserves the slot, its cousin — similar in more ways than one — is a worthy candidate, too. The Stars’ first stop after being ‘banished’ from Kumasi in 2014, the reception when they played Guinea back then was remarkable, and a return would hardly be ill-advised.
Ah, the newest!
The ‘made-in-China’ edifice inaugurated only this year has a playing surface which would please Avram Grant, terraces that — at just 15,000 seats — are very easy to fill, and an atmosphere the Stars haven’t tasted yet. After hosting the MTN FA Cup final earlier this month, this certainly seems the obvious next big leap. Cape Coast is indeed the venue where Nii Lante Vanderpuije, Ghana’s Minister of Youth and Sports, wants the Ghana Football Association to host the team’s Russia 2018 qualifying home games but, well, you’d know better than expect Kwesi Nyantakyi and Co. to comply willingly.