In the aftermath of the scintillating performance displayed by the senior national team in far away South Africa over the weekend, many are those in the diaspora who have started asking of the members of that victorious squad that demolished the South African team, leaving them with little or no hope of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup to be staged in Germany. Strikingly, one name that seems to be on the asking lips of many soccer enthusiasts and football loving Ghanaians in the United States Of America and elsewhere in the diaspora is whether Samuel Osei Kuffuor was in the team when South Africa succumbed to the Black Stars of Ghana in that epic encounter in J'oburg, South Africa.
Even though, with or without Osei Kuffuor, that vital win was secured on the shoulders of that wonderful battalion of 'soldiers' who stood still and made sure victory was the ultimate, the general consensus here is that, a good coach is the one who does not change a winning team. At least, it was clear from that vintage performance that the boys were resolute and unshaken in their quest for a place in the world cup roster when the roll is called. A school of thought has the view that Sammy Kuffuor let the nation down when his services were needed most in that exhibition match against Ajax Amsterdam of Holland, organised by the Black Stars coach, Ratomir Dujkovic to access his team and to test his team's readiness before playing Congo DR in Kumasi in the World Cup qualifying series. Sensing how serious it was for the new coach of the Black Stars, especially when he was using the match as a dress rehearsal for the following month's crucial World Cup qualifier against Congo DR, someone from the FA whispered into the ears of the coach that Osei Kuffuor was injured!. And that marked the end of a warrior who had been a part of the team in every single match that the Black Stars had played in the World Cup qualifying series. Until then, Samuel Osei Kuffuor who had become a household name in Ghana and on the entire continent, had been the longest-serving Black Stars player in the team.
In the ensuing pandemonium, it was disclosed via a BBC interview with the player that it was untrue that he was injured. It will be recalled also, that Sammy Kuffuor resisted pressures to take over the captainship of the Black Stars when a decision was taken to drop the then Black Stars' out-spoken captain, C.K. Akonnor from Ghana's Nation's Cup plans for the 2002 Cup Of Nations. However, when duty called that he had to serve his nation by leading the national team to 'war' against Cape Verde in the 2006 World Cup campaign, he never resisted and took up the challenge by captaining the team in the absence of Stephen Appiah who was recuperating from an injury he sustained in the Olympic Games,to the admiration of many fans at the Kumasi Sports Stadium.
The multi-million question here is that, should Ghana get to the World Cup, will Osei Kuffuor be a part of the team if he does not apologise to the coach, the FA and Ghanaians at large?. Your answer might as well be a good guess, but hold your breath. In asmuch as I opine here that, before Osei Kuffuor, there was Black Stars and after Osei Kuffuor, there will be Black Stars, let us all try to call a spade a spade, and not a 'small spoon'. Pride comes before a fall!. . If Kuffuor erred, by branding the entire GFA management as liars, then, in my opinion, he should render an unqualified apology to the offended parties. But if he is too proud to beg, then I beg to differ, and will forever hold my peace!.
The Black Stars are on course to qualifying for the World Cup, especially when all stakeholders namely the sponsors, the supporters, the GFA management, the Ministry and his name-sake, the President of the Republic, His Excellency J. A. Kuffuor are all throwing their weight behind the nation for a maiden appearance at the soccer diadem. Undoubtedly, Abedi Ayew Pele is the greatest thing to have happened to Ghana soccer, today he always regrets and harbours sour memories that, in his time, Ghana could not claim a single championship title at the Nation's Cup, let alone being at the World Cup. It would have therefore been a great delight for Samuel Osei Kuffuor to have played before his home fans in Munich, Germany where he plied his trade until recentltly for more than a decade. A veteran of 61 caps for the national team, Kuffour has served the nation during trying times at all levels of the national teams, right from the Black Starlets, Black Satellites, Black Meteors and the Black Stars. However, in the stand-off with the Ghana football authorities, the 28-year-old has refused to apologise for suggesting the FA lied about the state of his health, which has resulted in his exclusion from the Black Stars.
In rounding up, my plea here is that, Kuffuor should respect the coach's view and apologise, so he can find his place back in the team. We all love to see him play. In addition, it is the wish of every great player to play in the world cup. After all, the only three key players who have remained as pillars of the Black Stars team in recent times are Stephen Appiah, Samuel Osei Kuffuor and Michael Essien. A word to the wise, is enough. Kofi Asare Brako a.k.a. ABATAY Virginia,U.S.A. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.