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08.08.2003 Sports News

Lessons from Burkhard's dismissal

By Kotoko Express
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The circus continues. Ghana is sacking another coach. The writing had well been on the wall when the interviews had commenced. His stay was bound to be short lived. The history of our coaching woes over the past decade has been nothing to write home about. In 1992 it started with the same Burkhard when prior to the African Nations Cup in Senegal, the German was booted out to make room for another German, Otto Pfister. After, Ghana there was Zambia. But it was a very brief spell. The German never seem to find favour everywhere he goes. Bukhard's second coming was under a strong haze of controversy, a period during which the FA and the Sports Ministry were in disagreement again. This was the first breeze of chaos but surprisingly it was swept under the carpet.

Braving the storm

The FA did exactly that. Fact is Mr. Ben Koufie is on record to have threatened to quit his position as the boss of the FA if the German was not appointed. There were interesting issues, a recap is just essential to ensure concise and precise analysis. It was quite interesting that after the interview conducted for all the applicants who had applied to coach the senior national team, none was declared qualified for the position. Very interesting! Yet the interviewees made good marks when they met the panel as we later got to know. Burkhard made something above 60%.

So, who was playing the cat, the FA or the interview panel? The credibility and suitability of Burkhard had come under intense criticisms from some sports analysts in the run up to his appointment. It was quite obvious that the German had put up an impressive and effective publicity campaign and had spoken glib during the interview.

He couldn't just be ignored even though it was an undeniable fact he had very little to offer in terms of modern soccer trends. But the German had to be picked all the same especially when the FA was prepared to brave the storm and put its head on the chopping board.

Reality

Days after his appointment the reality began to dawn on us all. Perhaps, we had made a mistake again. PERHAPS, JUST PERHAPS! The cracks began to show. But with an excellent tongue that defied any German undertones when it starts rolling English, Burkhard was always quick to make a detour and beat his critics. Yet there was a time to break and Nigeria provided the right opportunity. The Stars abysmal show in Nigeria was a confirmation that we were still toddling and there was more talking being done than coaching. The Coach who had so much been praised before his appointment was suddenly scared of living up to the task. He preferred playing the spymaster and rather delegate his assistant Isaac Paha to ride the saddle. It was sad.

By refusing to accompany the team to friendly matches in Egypt and Nigeria on the excuse of going to spy on Rwanda and Uganda whom we were facing in the Nation's Cup qualifiers, he exposed himself as someone really out of touch with the trends in modern football. For which was more worth while: Getting to know your team well at first hand in your first competitive matches or spying on opposing teams at the expense of your team. This was the first act that exposed the German.

Perhaps, many soccer fans and administrators saw it as a new move in coaching techniques. A coaching revolution! But it was soon to turn out to be a dangerous revolution. It might be not be fair writing on issues that border on technical ability, as I am very small in that regard.

But, the German, it can be argued has been a flop. With the cream the Stars team at his disposal, he failed to beat Rwanda and Uganda when the Ghanaian Coach, Afranie with a second string team succeeded in beating Rwanda by 4:2.

Questions about criteria

This is an area that perhaps holds the key to our coaching woes. There has been a woeful showmanship of un-professionalism in the appointment of coaches to handle the national team. Before the appointment of Burkhard, there was the talk of going for a top-notch coach. We don't need to forget so soon. But is Burkhard the top notch coach we had been making all the noise about. Aren't we are our own enemies. After, his stint with the Senior National team in the early 90s and a very brief and unsuccessful stint with the Zambian national team, the German had simply gone quiet and inactive and even in his home country, he commands no fame at all.

Perhaps, we have been in so much haste any time we go in for the coaches. The list is endless: Burkhard Ziese, Otto Pfister, Petre Gavrilla, Ishmael Kurtz, Larsen, Rinus Israel, Guiseppe Dossena, Milan Zivadinovic. Very sad to relate, none of these coaches seem to have found enduring favour with Ghanaian soccer fans and administrators. When England went in for the Swede, Ericsson, it wasn't because they only needed a good coach but because they wanted to develop a particular style of play and temperament for the English team. Good coaches abound in England. But then was the requirement of style, technique and temperament. These are key issues in the appointment of Coaches.

Take for instance the Spanish Coach Del Bosque who was recently fired by Real Madrid. He was fired not because he had been a bad coach. Far from that! He had an impressive string of successes with Real Madrid but at a point in time the hierarchy at Real felt they needed to develop a new style of play and a new temperament for their team. This should give an indication of the criteria for the appointment of coaches, is taking in very professional environments. Else, why should Real Madrid of all teams go for Carlos Queiroz who was fired by South Africa and was assisting Alex Fergusson at Man U.

There is something about style, tactics and temperament that is proving to be prime in the appointment of coaches. This is a missing link we need to find when we go looking for coaches. I believe if we should have discerned very critically and taken some of these factors into consideration we might have avoided the appointment of Ziese. At the end of the day we should look at the temperament of our players, their strengths and their style and go for a coach whose style and tactics best fit our players.

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