The beginning of every New Year is greeted with resolutions from people, institutions and organizations with the aim of doing better than the previous year.
The targets, whether realistic or unrealistic, confirms the saying “Aim for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land among the stars”.
In respect to the sporting sector in Ghana, we do expect to see the Ghana Football Association, the big clubs, players, boxers and some athletes to up their game to major heights.
The Ghana Football Association
The GFA, under the presidency of Kwesi Nyantekyi, has faced criticism from the media and the general public on how they go about their business of running association football in the country.
The over-concentration on Black Stars to the detriment of the other national teams coupled with the lack of care and attention for local club football has been central to the various criticisms meted on the FA.
The FA will hope this New Year will bring to them luck and innovative ideas to rebrand domestic football and make it attractive to the natives.
Unfortunately for them, they begin 2016 with no title sponsor for the Premier League after 1st Capital Bank called off its sponsorship.
They need find a long-term title sponsor as the constant changing of title sponsor does not help the image of the league.
On a brighter side, the television right holders, Supersport, has promised to broadcast five games per week in the coming season. It is a huge improvement from the two games they offered last season.
With more television coverage, the clubs become more visible and that helps them to secure sponsorship from profit-making firms.
The National U-20 Women’s team, the Black Princesses, will be playing in the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to be held in Papua New Guinea from November 13 to December 3 2016.
The Black Princesses will hope to improve on their previous three performances and make it out of the group stage for the first time in history of the Women’s U-20 World Cup.
The Black Stars and the other male national teams will be engaged in qualifiers and nothing short of qualification is expected.
CAF Inter-club competition
2014/15 League Champions Ashanti Gold and MTN FA CUP winners Medeama SC will represent Ghana in this year’s CAF Interclub competitions.
The two clubs will have the rebranded G6 tournament to prepare them for the start of the league season.
The Miners have been handed a difficult draw against Algeria side MO Bejaia in the preliminary round.
AshGold should be well-equipped after holding on to almost all their key players especially the experienced midfield duo of Eric Opoku, who was crowned Ghana Premier League player for last season, and former Berekum Chelsea playmaker Joseph Ato Bisa, himself a onetime player of the season.
They have added Alhassan and Fuseini Nuhu from New Edubuase United to their ranks. The twins were essentially the reason for New Edubiase’s survival with their goals and assists and the Miners will expect them to bring their chemistry to the team.
After securing a sponsorship deal with Permafix Industries, a leading tiles and adhesives manufacturer in West Africa, AshantiGold look ready for the challenge of playing in Africa especially on the financial front.
Coach Bashir Hayford’s last foray in a continental competition saw him take Asante Kotoko to the group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup.
This AshGold side should aim for the CAF Champions League group stages but if they fail they should at least drop to the Confederation Cup.
Medeama SC will be making their second appearance in the CAF Confederation Cup after winning the FA Cup last season.
The Yellow and Mauves will not be engaged in the preliminary stage but will face the winner of the tie between Ittihad of Libya and AS Sonidep of Niger in the 1/16th stage.
They have been boosted by the return of experienced attacker Nathaniel Asamoah who scored 11 goals for them last season before leaving for Raja Casablanca.
Kwadwo Asamoah and Christian Atsu
2015 did not come with fortune for these two Ghanaian players who are owned by two elite European Clubs.
Kwadwo Asamoah, before 2015, was a starter for Italian champions Juventus.
2015 greeted him with series of injuries which nearly ruined his career.
Now fully fit, he is ready to wow the fans of the “Old Lady” like he did under previous coach Antonio Conte which earned him the name ‘Awesomoah’.
Allegri is likely to use him as a central midfielder after the departures of Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo.
Asamoah played in that role in one UCL game against Malmo FF in the 2014/15 in the absence of Vidal.
Despite the presence of Sami Khedira, Asamoah is expected to get a better chance at more midfield play due to the German’s injury history.
Christian Atsu’s depressing loan spell at AFC Bournemouth was ended this January with his parent club Chelsea recalling him. As to whether he will remain at Chelsea or go on loan to another club, it is still unknown.
The ‘Ghana Messi’ tag is fast becoming a myth and the winger will do himself good by seizing any opportunity afforded him either at Chelsea or where he will be sent out on loan.
Ghana boxing used to be the envy of Africa as it produced world title holders in the past.
The domestic scene used to witness regular promotions generating crowds but times have changed and the sport is not vibrant anymore.
The only standout bouts have involved Braimah Kamoko and Ayittey Powers.
In 2016, hopes will be on Richard Oblitey Commey to bring home a world title to add to his impressive C.V of Ghanaian lightweight title, International Boxing Federation (IBF) Continental Africa lightweight title, African Boxing Union (ABU) lightweight title, International Boxing Federation (IBF) Inter-Continental lightweight title, and Commonwealth lightweight title.
On the amateur level, Ghana Amateur Boxing Authority will hope Sulemanu Tetteh (49kg), Akimos Anang Ampiah (52kg), Jerry Lartey (56kg), Jesse Lartey (60kg), Azumah Mohammed (64kg), Musa Rahman Lawson (69kg) Emmanuel Kato (76kg), Anani Kutsoke (81kg), David Bawa Akankolim (91kg), Benjamin Offei Dodoo (91kg) and Abubakari Quartey (69kg) qualify to the Rio Olympic games come August 2016.
So far only one Ghanaian athlete has been able to qualify for the Rio Oympics.
800m runner Alex Amankwah made the cut following a revision of the qualification standards to 1.46.00 by athletics world governing body, the IAAF.
Ghana’s performance in track and field at the world’s highest level i.e. the Olympic Games and the World Championships have not been the best.
But the Ghana Athletics Assocation has been grooming local athletes and keeping tabs on those based outside the country to see if Ghana can make a strong representation at the Olympic Games.
But they must work hard to meet the July 11 deadline for qualifying.
Ghana will have a busy 2016 sporting year and we hope that by the end of the year, we can have a lot of ticks to the items on the checklist.
By: Rahman Osman/citifmonline.com/Ghana