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Around the world, sport psychologists work to help athletes like Andre Ayew improve their performance, especially critical times. In most cases, sport psychologists work with athletes on stress management, motivation, effective teamwork, and other psychological factors that can help improve athletes performance.
If you know the history between Uruguay and Ghana in football, you would certainly feel for Andre Ayew after he missed that crucial penalty against Uruguay on Friday evening, December 2, 2022.
Andre Ayew was totally off for the remainder of the first half after he missed the penalty.
Ghana needed a win or at least a draw to progress to the round of 16 of the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The Black Stars had lost their opening match in Group H to Portugal on a 3 – 2 scoreline, won their second match 3 – 2 against South Korea and had to beat Uruguay to progress to the round of 16.
It all seemed like it was that perfect opportunity for Ghana to take lead over Uruguay and win in the match that was termed ‘Revenge Mission’. Why revenge mission? Revenge because in 2010, Luiz Suarez of Uruguay denied Ghana the opportunity of being the first African nation to progress to the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup after he stopped a possible goal for Ghana with his hand in the dying minutes of the game, giving Ghana a penalty which Asamoah Gyan infamously missed.
For 12 years, Ghanaians have been hoping to see Ghana play once again against Uruguay in the World Cup and that opportunity came this year. And for Andre Ayew who was part of that Black Stars squad in 2010 to miss yet another penalty for Ghana against Uruguay, especially when the whole nation was demanding nothing but a win over Uruguay, you could imagine how ‘mentally tortious’ it can be for any player of Black Stars to miss any opportunity to give Ghana a win over Uruguay. It was a tough moment for Ayew, a player who has been a key and inspirational figure for the Black Stars.
But taking Andre Ayew off at the beginning of the second half for me, shows that there are no real psychologists on the Black Stars management team. Dede was off mentally for the most part of the first half after missing the penalty, which is normal. But at halftime, he needed someone in the management team to inspire him, to help him to find his way back into the game in the second half. Missing the penalty in the first half, Ayew had everything to possibly correct in the second half and being a key figure of the squad, he would possibly have tried to bring the team back into the game.
But sadly, Andre Ayew was taken off. Coach Otto Addo made a couple of hasty changes in the World Cup, the first being the game against Portugal which ended in a defeat for Ghana. The coach for me, seems to be a leader who cannot stand pressure. The Black Stars management team appeared to lack pressure management in the World Cup. The coach appeared a somewhat confused or troubled whenever Ghana conceded a goal and it seemed he didn’t really know what to do next, except to run to make changes.
Psychologists were needed to talk to Andre Ayew during halftime, work as much as possible to motivate him to get back into the game in the second half, and get his teammates to give him the needed support. It wasn’t the right decision to just take him off.
Indeed, the entire Ghanaian squad, with the exception of Kudus, looked completely off, after the penalty was missed, and for me, it was like the players were feeling history was about to repeat itself. That was why much work probably was required by the sports psychologists on the Black Stars management team. There was the need for motivation, inspiration and that feeling of hope for the best. But that was apparently missing for me. A match that was meant to be the ‘revenge game’, for me was the worst performance of Ghana in this year’s World Cup. The Black Stars played well against Portugal despite the defeat, and they were equally fabulous against the Koreans. But everything was missing against Uruguay. The players appeared hopeless.