INTERVIEW: Jonathan Mensah on Brazil 2014
Jonathan Mensah was one Ghana’s standout players at the 2014 World Cup even though the Black Stars had a disappointing campaign in Brazil. The AFS columnist spoke to 90 MINUTES in Brazil about the team’s chances and what exactly went wrong in the Ghana camp.
Q: Jonathan, tell us about Ghana’s World Cup campaign in Brazil.
A: It has been a great experience as this is my second World Cup at senior level. I must be honest however that, our group was tough but we went into the competition to do our best for the country. The plan was to take every game as it comes to qualify from the group. But it was very unfortunate we couldn’t go beyond the group stages. We must now focus on the upcoming 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games.
Q: In your candid opinion, what went wrong for team Ghana in Brazil?
A: From my point of view, I think we started quite slow in the tournament which didn’t help us. We did our best but it wasn’t good enough. We [players] don’t want to play any blame games at the moment, the best we can do is to move on.
Q: Many football fans have attributed your early exit to the numerous off-the-field incidents in the Black Stars camp. For instance, the decision not to train over the now infamous $100,000 appearance fee.
A: Well that’s not true because we had played two games before that incident (appearance fee) came up. And in those two games, we played our hearts out, so it will be difficult to think those off-the-pitch incidents affected us. I am not happy it happened that way but trust me when I tell you, we [players] were more than committed to the Black Stars’ World Cup campaign.
Q: Did Kwesi Appiah lose control in the dressing room?
A: The coach (Kwesi Appiah) was always in control in the dressing room. Things happen and I guess life must go on. I know Ghanaian fans are disappointed we couldn’t qualify but we also didn’t want things to end up this way. We failed to better what we did in South Africa but we must stay united and fight for a common cause. Ghana always comes first and not any individual.
Q: Was there any pressure on you playing in the biggest competition in football?
A: Not at all because I have been there before. I played my first World Cup when I was 19 and will be 24 this year. For me, I came here to do my best for the team but like I said, things just didn’t work out for us. I just need to continue working hard, listen to advice and enjoy the game.
Q: Do you think that this current Black Stars team disbanded?
A: It’s one of those things that happen after a bad tournament, but personally I believe it will cruel to get rid of everyone. I am ready to play for Ghana anytime I receive a call-up and I wouldn’t just end the Black Stars romance because I want to play for Ghana. I think I could have done better than I did in this year’s World Cup because at the end of the day, it’s the results that matters most; we lost 2 games and drew 1. We could have done better but like I said, we started slowly in the competition and we paid dearly for it. We just cannot change the hands of time. Looking back at the Group games that the team played, we had great chances of winning the games against Portugal and Germany respectively. Vivid examples are the great chances that went begging to Majeed Waris & Jordan Ayew respectively.
Q: Do you still look back at those chances?
A: I don’t think about them now but I did think about them when it happened. It was kind of disappointing, but like I said, we can’t do anything about it now so we have to move on. The worst feeling is regretting not having done something when you had the chance, but you also don’t allow the pain of loss to stop the process of living. Unity in the team is what keeps us going and despite those little problems, we have almost always stayed united. This is something that I will always be proud of.
Q: Talking about club football, what does the future hold for you now?
A: Well I had a great season with Evian and helped them stay up in the league. I know my colleagues and the technical team were also happy with my performance during the just ended season but I am eager to well this coming season. Concerning a potential summer transfer, that’s the duty of my agent and I always trust him to do the best for me; whilst I do my part on the field of play.