27.02.2003 Sports News

Looking beyond Burkhard Ziese

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The dust seem to have settled on the choice for a national coach, though not without drama and anxious moment especially among fans. The axe has fallen on German Burkhard Ziese who once guided the Black Stars to qualify for the Senegal Cup of Nations in 1992 but was booted out just after the qualifiers under some bizarre circumstances. The expatriate coach later reported the matter to the world's soccer governing body, FIFA, for unfair treatment, but what has become of it is unknown. Ziese is expected back in the country after the interview by the end of this week to finalise his contractual agreement with the Ghana Football Association (GFA) for a year's deal. One wonder's though what a coach can do within a year. Whatever it is, the first headway has been made and I can only hope that Ghana soccer would progress from here. This year is a busy one - the country has to prepare an Olympic team to represent the nation at the Abuja All Africa Games in October, the qualifiers for the Africa Nations Cup would continue and the qualifiers for next year's Athens Olympics games would soon kick-start not to talk of women's world cup in China. One wonders whether apart from the coach for the Black Stars, the GFA has appointed anyone to take care of the Olympic team, or is the German going to double as both the helmsman of the Black Stars and the Meteors? Remember, Ghana was the first country sub of the Sahara to win Bronze in soccer at the Olympics - though that feat has been rendered unimportant with the winning of gold by both Cameroon and Nigeria - and that pedigree needs to be enhanced. Wouldn't it be prudent if indeed the German is going to be tasked with the handling of Black Stars that the Meteors is given to Coach Emmanuel Kwesi Afranie who the GNA Sports gathered placed second at the interview? Remember that most of the current Meteors squad are grandaunts from the under-20 team that won silver in Argentina under coach Afranie. And don't you think for purposes of continuity Afranie should be allowed to carry on from where he left off? I don't think anyone is against the idea of employing an expatriate coach, but in doing so, Ghanaian coaches, at least the good ones, should not be made to look incompetent, unimportant and unwanted. Certainly, not all Ghanaian coaches are good but at least, those who have been able to stand the test of time like the Afranies, the Attuquayefios and the Ardeys should be brought back into the fold to revitalise the Ghanaian soccer. While looking at all these, the GFA should make a conscious effort at helping to improve on the technical abilities of the local coaches. Isn't possible for the GFA for instance to organise a refresher course for selected coaches and later attach them to some top foreign clubs like Manchester United and Bayern Munich? After a year's rigorous practical attachment with these top European clubs it would in no doubt sharpen the skills of our coaches and help them read the game better. They could be attached to any of the national teams on their return to bring their experience to bear on our national team. There is no doubt that if this initiative is adopted and vigorously pursued, there would be no need to spend thousands of dollars on expatriate in fives years to come. Remember, no condition is permanent, for we might not be able to afford an expatriate coach in the future hence it is better we find a way of improving our own and encouraging them, for, they can also do it.

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