Most people have heard one form or another of the following quotation: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In fact, history repeating itself is a common caution in all walks of life and the soccer world is no exception. But there are several historical events we do not even realize are repeats of the past.
Humanity is continuously reminding itself that everyone must learn from their mistakes to prevent repetition, yet one look at our history proves that this reminder is often ignored or forgotten.
If the U20 Ugandan team had a lesson in the past to guide them in their crucial match against Ghana last Saturday, March 6, 2021, they would have made sure that any Ghanaian player named Afriyie in the Ghanaian team would have been closely marked and taken out of the game.
The lack of this reminder unfurls history against the Ugandan U20 national team when they played against the Ghana Black Satellites. Forty-three years earlier at the Accra sports stadium, a former Ghana soccer legend and goal poacher, Nii Opoku Afriyie, AKA Bayie, scored two goals in each half at the Accra sports stadium to win the coveted African Nations Cup for Ghana. It was the 3rd time Ghana had won the cup.
The 1978 African Cup of Nations was the eleventh edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, the football championship of Africa (CAF). It was hosted in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana.
The format of the competition changed from 1976: the field of eight teams was still split into two groups of four, but the final group stage was eliminated in favor of the knockout semifinals used in tournaments prior to 1976.
Speed that up to 2021 and another Ghanaian soccer prodigy in the making, Captain Afriyie Barnieh, was the star of the day as he scored in each half to ensure Karim Zito’s side defeat the Hippos of Uganda at the Stade Olympique in Nouakchott.
The triumph meant that Ghana walked home with a 4th U-20 AFCON trophy and a first since 2009. Similarly, since 1963, Ghana had not won the Champions cup till 1978 when the magic of Opoku Afriyie lighted the hearts of Ghanaians with two mercurial strikes at the Accra sports stadium.
The 2021 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations was the 16th edition of the Africa U-20 Cup of Nations (23rd edition if tournaments without hosts are included). The biennial international youth football tournament is organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for players aged 20 and below.
In September 2018, it was decided that the tournament would be hosted by Mauritania. This will be the first edition in Africa’s U-20 Cup of Nations to have expanded to 12 teams instead of eight.
The top four teams of the tournament would have normally qualified for the 2021 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia as the CAF representatives, however, FIFA decided to cancel the tournament on 24 December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The defending champions, Mali, failed to qualify. Ghana won their 4th title by defeating debutant Uganda in the Final.