The island of São Tomé, where the Black Stars play in Monday’s AFCON qualifier, is an hour and thirty minutes by air from Accra.
Usually, such short distances will require a short hop via commercial airlines, but on Sunday afternoon, the official Ghana FA handle on Twitter showed the team going by military aircraft.
This was odd, considering that a regular commercial service is run by TAP Portugal, and many keen observers asked why this was the case. There’s, however, an explanation for the use of the Air Force carrier.
Ghana will play their hosts on Monday at 1pm (Ghana time) and the game should be over by 3pm, at the latest.
Many of the Black Stars players have to catch flights back to their clubs as soon as possible in order not to invite sanctions for late return. Problem is, TAP Portugal will not fly out of the island until Tuesday evening – almost 28 hours after the game.
And, according to Joy Sports Benedict Owusu, who is with the team, that’s why the option of military transport was explored to prevent what happened a few years go from repeating itself.
The 2017 fiasco
It may be recalled that in September 2017, former Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan had to step in, to charter a private jet to fly the entire Black Stars team fro Congo.
Kwesi Appiah had led the team to a 5-1 World Cup qualifier victory in Brazzaville, but after the game, flight arrangements out of the Central African nation became chaotic. This followed the government’s decision to suddenly renege on footing the bill to transport the team back to Accra.
The situation created a problem for the Stars management because many of the players needed to fly out of Accra to their clubs before specified dates to prevent hefty fines and bans – as is the case on this national assignment.
The Black Stars will hope to beat São Tomé and go top of Group C, after South Africa beat Sudan 1-0 earlier on Sunday.