The madness comes to an end and Ghana go home after so much promise, but none of it kept. Following a few of the strangest, most turbulent days even by the standards of this World Cup, they exited the tournament limply, all the while churning up uncomfortable issues about African teams at the competition.
On the field, a side with so much potential, their problems over appearance fees have cast a soulless shadow over their efforts. Indeed on the previous occasion he stood before the press, manager Kwesi Appiah talked about the issue of Fifa not paying fees to associations until during the World Cup, players not trusting associations to pay if not before a World Cup, and how governments are forced to intervene or chaos encroaches.
It’s a sentiment he reiterated after their 2-1 defeat yesterday. “It resulted in the team not training on Tuesday,” he noted. “As to the amount they were paid, it's not an issue that should interest anyone. What the players requested was paid. But no coach wants to be in such a situation.” All of that meant there was little room to delve into the sending home of Kevin-Prince Boateng for abusing him and Sulley Muntari for allegedly slapping an association member in the face during a meeting. “At this level you look at a team, not the players, and that’s why the decision was taken this morning,” Appiah said of the suspensions. “But if you want to build and restore discipline, it's important to set things right.”
As for the Portuguese, much like their play, their exit was much more hum-drum and predictable. “But the match was one we tried to win and we did,” said Cristiano Ronaldo trying to see the bright side of what amounted to a dull failure. “We created many opportunities but we could not finish them. But the winner at the end showed it was important to us. We deserved more but that’s football. We are leaving with our heads held high.” The same can’t be said for their opponents.