My attention has been drawn to some publications on some Ghanaian-based websites which wrongfully attribute their source to an original story I wrote following an interview I had with a former Ghanaian U-17 Captain Emmanuel Bentil on the Heart and Soul programme on LifeStyle TV. I wrote and published the story ahead of the second season of the show which started on Saturday, 23 April 2022 at 11:00 am on LifeStyle TV.
I state categorically that at no point in the interview did Mr. Bentil state that “Maame water spirit ruined our careers,” “Marine Spirits Ended Careers of Top Players” or … “marine spirit CRASHED the careers of several top stars including Stephen Appiah, Awudu Issaka, and Christian Atta Gyan.”
I must add that former Ghana Captain Emmanuel Bentil has expressed his disappointment with the distortions that have been published on some of the websites concerning his interview.
The misleading stories were published on the below websites with the following captions:
“Maame water spirit ruined our careers – Ex-starlet Captain”
“1995 U17 World Cup Winner Reveals How Marine Spirits Ended Careers of Top Players From Ghana.
“Horror: Ex-Bayern Munich midfielder reveals how marine spirit CRASHED the careers of several top stars including Stephen Appiah, Awudu Issaka, and Christian Atta Gyan.”
The original story which was published on www.liquidsportsghana.com was headlined: “We consulted maame water spirit at midnight to win matches- Starlet 95 captain Emmanuel Bentil on LifeStyle TV.
Mr. Bentil specifically said his colts football team frequented the Korle Gonnor beach to consult some mediums such as maame water spirit at midnight to win football matches. Such practices were very common among football clubs during the competitive juvenile football leagues of the past and even presently.
Read the below:
“Asked on LifeStyle TV’s Heart and Soul programme whether he also experienced juju while playing at the colts level, he responded in the affirmative and recalled the instances when such events occurred.
“Yes, I did,” he said adding, “We went to certain places for rituals to win games. I remember even when I played monchendi (a highly competitive local football game in the 80s and 90s where teams and individuals stake bets on the outcome of matches) at Chorkor, a suburb of Accra. We used to go to the beach maybe at midnight; maybe 1 o clock in the morning or 2 O clock in the morning.
“The whole team had to go there and pray. They will pray and call the saints and sometimes you can hear things, noise and something will come out from the sea.
Again, I state categorically that at no point in the interview did Mr. Bentil state that “Maame water spirit ruined our careers,” “Marine Spirits Ended Careers of Top Players” or … “marine spirit CRASHED the careers of several top stars including Stephen Appiah, Awudu Issaka, and Christian Atta Gyan.”
Moreover, Mr. Bentil did not say that the Starlet 1995 team sought maame water powers to win the tournament in Ecuador in 1995.
Indeed, this is not the first time stories have been written about the factors that may have aided the success of Ghana’s team at Ecuador despite the fact Ghana paraded one of the most talented teams at the World Cup which beat Brazil 3:2 to lift the ultimate trophy.
Another member of that team, Awudu Issaka similarly claimed “spiritual assistance helped us win the 1995 World Cup.” Awudu mentions one Pastor by the name Servant Isaac who predicted Ghana’s victory at the tournament after the team called on him before the tournament.
“In 1995 before we travelled to Ecuador for the FIFA U-17 world cup, we visited a man of God named, Servant Isaac at Akim-Oda who forecasted that we’ll win the tournament. He then cursed his Church to collapse should we return to Ghana without the FIFA U17 world cup trophy and this statement meant he (the man of God) knew what had seen,” he told Kumasi-based Boss FM as reported by pulse.com.gh.
Awudu Issaka, who was affectionately called the disco dancer, claimed Acquah Isaac cursed the Black Starlets after the team failed to acknowledge the role played by the latter in their triumph.
“Upon arrival in Ghana with the trophy the playing body especially the players had deals outside and as a result, the praise that he was expecting from us was absent and from thence he cursed the team and I made to believe it is a contributing factor to the current decline of the national U-17,” he concluded.
It is also reported that the team visited Acquah Isaac on the advice of the former Assistant coach of the Starlet Francis Oti Akenteng. The team was treated to breakfast meals made up of beverages, bread, and eggs on two different occasions, according to some of the players.
In a separate interview with Francis Oti Akenteng on Boss Fm which was published on www.ghanasoccernet.com, Oti Akenteng confirmed the visit to Acquah Isaac but added the team equally worked hard to achieve success in Ecuador in 1995.
“Yes Awudu is right, we visited Pastor Isaac Acquah before we departed for Ecuador. He prayed for us! I led the team there because that’s where I fellowship and I’d faith and believe in the man-of-God,” Akenteng told Boss FM.
“He assured us of World Cup success but we also knew how to pray and so we did and we also put in hard work into the competition and that also contributed to the success we chalked but not because the pastor prayed or prophesized we won.”
It is indeed true that Mr. Bentil also mentioned he felt Acquah Isaac had cursed the team for not “showing appreciation” after the world cup. He suggested many of his teammates had their careers cut short by knee injuries.
As a journalist and host of Heart and Soul, I think it is very important Mr. Bentil is not misquoted in any way that may affect his relationship with the rest of the team members and the football public at large. Even if he had mentioned anything in relation to seeing maame water spirit, it was actually in reference to his juvenile or colts football days and not the Black Starlets.
I am most grateful Mr. Bentil accepted to be a guest on Heart and Soul to shed light on an area of our football many have chosen not to talk much about.
Heart and Soul will continue to explore the relationship between religion and sports, and how it affects African football and sports in general.