The curse from 12 yards: Five times Ghana lost on penalties at tournaments

BY WWW.GHANAWEB.COM - Oct 14, 2019 at 3:07pm 100

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If there is anything in football that Ghanaians and Ghanaian footballers dread most, then its penalty shootouts.

Ghana’s record when it comes to the ‘lottery’ as some call it, is nothing short of abysmal.

Penalty shootouts have become Ghana’s perennial nemesis and whenever it gets to that stage of a game, almost every Ghanaian become apprehensive.

This fear or anxiety is borne out of consistent defeats recorded by the national teams particularly the Black Stars.

It has been over three decades since the Black Stars won a penalty shootout -1982. It also happens to be the last time the team won a trophy.

When the local Black Stars won a penalty shootout in early rounds of the WAFU Nations Cup, there were expectations that the hoodoo had finally been broken but the defeat to Senegal has reignited conversations about it.

Some says it’s down to luck, others hold that shootouts are science and only countries who invest in it usually come top in such contests.

Following the latest failure against Senegal, we bring you some of instances where Ghanaians had their hearts shattered by shootout defeats.

2010 World Cup

An unforgettable night for Ghanaians and Africans saw the Black Stars move from being a kick away from a historic semifinal spot to being ousted by Uruguay on penalties in South Africa.

A dramatic end to a pulsating 1-1 draw game between Ghana and the South American nation ended with Ghana losing 4-2 on penalties with Adiyiah and John Mensah being the culprits.

This happened after Asamoah Gyan missed a last-minute penalty that could have sent Ghana to the semi-final of the World Cup.

1992 AFCON

Ten years after winning the AFCON via shootouts in Libya, the Black Stars had a chance to add another trophy to the cabinet but it did not happen.

After a goalless draw game, the Black Stars without Abedi Ayew Pele lost 10-11 to Ivory Coast.

Anthony Baffoe’s kick was saved by Ivorian goalie Gouamene to hand them their first AFCON trophy.

The penalty shootout was significant in that it was the first in the final of a major international tournament that every player on the pitch took a penalty.

2015 AFCON

Another painful experience for Ghanaians who had their hopes up after the team took a 2-goal lead in the shootouts.

Bony and Tallo missed their opening two kicks to give Ghana a comfortable lead but Afriyie Acquah and Frank Acheampong had their kicks saved to draw level.

Razak Braimah will then miss his kick to hand the trophies to the Ivorians on a 9-8 score line.



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The dream for a first World Youth Championship trophy was on course until Ghana met Spain in the quarter-finals.

The Black Satellites went up against a star-studded side that had highly rated Spanish youngsters, Xavi, Marchena and Iker Casillas.

The Black Satellites with the likes of Laryea Kingston, Stephen Appiah and Peter Ofori-Quaye held their own to send the game to penalties.

Once again, the nation found itself on the losing side of a penalty shootout. George Blay’s miscued kick gave the Europeans a sweet victory. They went on to win the tournament.

WAFU 2019

Another day, another penalty defeat for Ghana. The local component of the Black Stars were defeated 3-1 on penalties by hosts. Senegal on Sunday, October 13.

The game was decided by the penalties after a 1-1 scoreline in regulation time.

Justice Blay, Augustine Okrah and Fatawu Mohammed all missed their kicks

Penalties luck or science

One endless debate in football is whether penalty shootouts are down to luck or pure science.

Over the years, research works have been produced to support or rubbish the claim that penalty shootouts are based on luck.

In an interview with ESPN last year, five-time Ballon d’OR winner Cristiano Ronaldo said, "For me, penalties ultimately come down to luck. So, for me I'd say that it was very unfortunate to have so much bad luck in such a short space of time and miss at crucial moments. Everyone will have their own ideas of whether to take the first, the second, or the last, but in the end, it is a bit of a lottery.

An expert on football data revealed that clubs have invested thousands of dollars to gather information about penalties to help them analyse and improve their players.

"It's an expensive business. Teams will pay around $400,000 for three months' access to Opta's data," Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, who has worked as a penalty consultant for the Dutch football team, told Al Jazeera.

Opinion on penalties are divided across the world but one thing almost every Ghanaian subscribes to is that the FA must address this penalty issue.

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