How Ghana stabbed Kingston in the back!
7/15/2012 5:30:33 PM -
For a country whose citizens demand loyalty and commitment from our footballers and are quick to curse any player they consider not committed to the national cause, one would have thought that with the same zeal and tenacity the citizens will stand up for their heroes who are unfairly treated.
But no! We stood by; in fact turned a blind eye when one of the country's football heroes was denied what conspicuously is every footballer's dream- playing at the World Cup.
In the year 2000 I was part of the famous Accra Academy team, which included Asamoah Gyan that won the Inter Colleges competition and qualified for the maiden Valco Tournament to be hosted in Kumasi.
I was a key member of the team during the 'Interco'; played all the matches and yet when it came to preparations for the Valco tournament, a single penalty miss caused me a place in the final team.
I still remember that day when Coach JE Sarporg- 'shapiro' we called him- stood in front the team; the names he mentioned still reverberates in my ear; I still feel the pain how I was dropped from a team I helped qualify for a competition. It hurt badly! And yet it was Valco Tournament, in Kumasi here in Ghana.
But on two occasions, in Germany and South Africa, the only period Ghana has qualified for the World Cup, we dropped a player, Laryea Kingston from the World Cup squad for reasons that are to say the least preposterous and outrageous.
In 2006, Ghana's midfield quartet was considered the best in the world. Laryea on the right; Sulley on the left; Essien right in the middle and Appiah in control; they were just a delight to watch.
But in an altercation with Senegalese Habib Beye in a cup of Nations game, Laryea and Beye were both shown red card and a four match suspension slapped on them, a decision I thought was harsh on the young men, but Ghana's decision on Kingston was even crude.
That because Ghana was eliminated in the first round of the competition and Kingston had three match bans to serve, a decision was taken to drop the man who was instrumental in Ghana's qualifying campaign from the squad to Germany.
Indeed snippets of information had it that Ghana was not expected to make it out of the Group of death, which included Italy, Czech Republic and the USA and so there was no point in taking a player-spectator along to the World Cup.
I was shocked when I heard that. Little thinking, if any at all went into that decision. And when Ghana made it past the group stages here we were with eggs thrown at our faces. We needed Laryea badly in the game against Brazil; not that he had the magic wand but he always brought depth to the team and his incisive crosses were always needed. We came back home trounced 0-3 but with our heads up high knowing we were there; we celebrated the team on their return; gave them medals and cash rewards. I doubt very much if Kingston was given a penny or medal. His long held and cherished dream came crashing but we celebrated.
Maybe the whole Laryea-Germany-fiasco was a mistake which could easily have been forgiven if steps were taken to reward his effort in the next World Cup in 2010. But that was not to be.
Even after that malicious treatment meted out to him, his patriotism and commitment to Ghana were all too palpable.
For months, Kingston had running battles with his club Hearts of Scotland just for the simple reason that he loved his country more than his club.
When the club claimed he was injured and needed rest, Laryea said he was fit and needed Ghana to qualify for South Africa.
Without the club's consent and on many occasions in total disrespect to the club, Kingston came to play for Ghana just so we could qualify for the World Cup.
For his love for Ghana, he fell out with his team's coach and he paid dearly for it. He was one of the top players of Hearts and top three highest earners but he lost all. Eventually he left the club or was sacked.
And what did Ghana do having qualified for the World Cup in South Africa with the sweat, and unassailable commitment of Laryea Kingson? We dropped him. Coldly! Painfully! With little or no explanation. Oh sorry, there was. Milovan Rajevac thought Kingson did not fit into his plans for the World Cup. And that was it. Some said Kingson had lost his pace and was not the Kingston of old. I nearly said rubbish. At what time did we realize he had lost his pace?
He was angry and rightly so when he was dropped from the squad and even that, some goody-goody Ghanaians had a problem with it.
They expected him to rejoice at the sadness of being left out of another World Cup tourney when he had worked so hard for it. How crude?
I am sure many will be asking why I am writing this piece now. Well I just read a story about Kingston denying he has retired from football and I remembered how awfully Ghana collectively treated one player and at the same time hang another for asking time off after a psychological breakdown.
For the collective interest of Ghana it is right to sacrifice one man and stab him in the back; but it is a sacrilege for one man to, even if for selfish reasons, opt to sit out from the national team. How inconsistent. And yet that is the cross each player has to bear. Hmm.
I don't know how this country can reward Laryea Kingston for his selflessness and unrewarded patriotism for GHANA. Any ideas? If you disagree with me too you are free to say it.!!!!