Ghana has introduced penalty shoot-outs after drawn games in its national youth leagues as part of moves to improve players’ ability and change their poor penalty outcomes at international tournaments in recent times.
In the new format, all matches of the National Juvenile League which end in draws will be decided by a shoot-out. The winners will be rewarded with two points while the losing side will get one.
The announcement was made during the launch of the 2020-21 juvenile league season on Wednesday.
“For so many years, Ghana has suffered a lot from our inability to score at the penalty spot when games end in stalemates. The Black Stars we remember Senegal 92 [Afcon tournament which is] just one of the key examples,” Ghana Football Association president Kurt Okraku said during the event.
“So beginning this season, all juvenile games that end in stalemates will be decided via penalty shoot-outs. So what that means is that when the game ends in 0-0, 1-1 or 3-3, we’ll resort to the penalty shoot-out to decide the winner.
“The winner gets 2 points while the losing team one.”
At the last Africa Cup of Nations finals, where the Black Stars were unable to make the quarter-final, their first time of failing to make the last eight since 2006, their elimination at the hands of Tunisia came by a shoot-out (5-4).
Four years earlier in Equatorial Guinea, the Black Stars gave away a 2-0 lead during a shoot-out in the grand finale against Cote d’Ivoire to ultimately lose 9-8. It was the closest they got to winning the continental title since 1982.
“I will not term it [consistent penalty woes] as a problem. It’s a perennial challenge and we admit that historically we’ve not done well. A penalty shoot-out in itself should be an integral part of every training session,” former national goalkeeper Damba lamented after Ghana’s home-based side lost 3-1 on penalties to hosts Senegal in the final of the 2019 Wafu Cup of Nations.
“Penalty shoot-outs require a lot of skill and quality but overall, it requires a lot of confidence. You can be the best player but still miss out during shoot-outs because of certain reasons which go beyond coaches sometimes.
“Coaches can pick the best of players, they perform well [in training] but during shoot-outs they miss out and we can set examples of top-class players who missed out at the World Cup.”
Ghana’s most famous heartache with penalties in recent times is undoubtedly the incident at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where striker Asamoah Gyan missed a last-gasp extra-time penalty to send the Black Stars into the semi-final in the quarter-final clash with Uruguay.
There was even further disappointment as the game headed into a shoot-out where the Black Stars lost 4-2.