In my last piece on the Black Stars' poor performance in Egypt, I gave credit to Ratomir Djukovic for his comments that Ghanaians were being unfair to him because he had only enough players to enable the team get to some stage of the competition. He was emphatic that he could not promise anything because he had a few or no options, going into the tournament.
Only recently, in response to a question from journalists at a press conference, Djukovic indicated that he presented Ghana's best at the tournament (Egypt 2006). Funny, huh? I believe there can never be any higher display of honesty than what the coach did. I have said time and again that as a team, the Black Stars have very few options that can cope with the demands that top-notch tournaments require.
I received a lot of emails from people asking me to explain how a nation can qualify for a football mundial if they lacked the wherewithal. The best answer to questions of this nature will be an assessment of the performance of all the teams in Ghana's world cup qualifying group, in Egypt 2006. Perhaps, aside of the DR Congo, who could amass only four points but had to lose humiliatingly to Egypt in the quarter finals, South Africa only confirmed that it is a team in progressive decline. The South African team, for the last two years has failed to produce the performance that made it a force until 2003. Of course, Cape Verde whom Ghana beat 4-O in their final match could not even make it to nation's cup, and as for Uganda, the least said about them the better. I still wonder what would have happened if the likes of Tunisia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, among others, had been in our world cup qualifying group.
As a nation we have failed to develop a program for taking care of our best players, thus we end up losing all these players, cheaply; to some obscure teams outside the country. We do that in the name of “foreignism” and so-called professionalism. Can you imagine the number of Ghanaians plying their trade in countries like Bangladesh, Venezuela, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia among other divisions in some European countries? Those we call our top players play (in some cases warm benches) in fourth and other divisions in countries like Denmark, UAE, etc and it is fascinating how content we become, thinking they've gone professional. How could anyone be that callous into transferring players to lowly ranked leagues when, in fact, the Ghanaian league has been ranked better that than most of these leagues? Why do we rush players into their demise?
Only recently the nation had to lose its best player for 2005, Issa Ahmed to a Danish division one side, Randers FC, for $180, 000. Poor him! A quality player sold for peanuts? So how much is he going to earn in a week? Ironically, according to sources, with the help of some Black Star officials, the player signed a three (3) year contract. Such a player can only kiss good-bye to international soccer. Why do we kill our geese that lay the golden eggs in the name of “foreignism” or professionalism? Issa Ahmed deserves to play in the Danish Super league and not the first division, taking into cognizance his performance on both the local and the international scene. However, this is just the recent of the wave of exploitation that the Ghanaian transfer window has seen. Players such as Awuley Quaye Junior, who plies his trade for Zamalek, had to be deceived into signing a ten-year contract with a team abroad. I guess, what happened to him is history now but we can't cripple our league and national teams through such goings-on and blame others for our failures.
Very good players such as Joe Fameyeh, Ishmael Addo, Charles Taylor, Stephen Oduro have had to go through similar experiences. I doubt if any of these players are any better than they left the shores of Ghana. How many times haven't we heard our players crying to be bought out of their contracts? How many of our players haven't we lost due to callous transfer deals? As to why last year's top scorer in the GT premier league, Prince Tagoe turned down an offer from Mainz in Germany, but accepted a similar one from a Saudi team is a thing for the gods to explain. Where would a player develop better: Germany or Saudi? Yet, I don't blame these players. I hold their agents and managers responsible for their greed and lack of foresight. Joe Tex recently signed a five-month deal with a Saudi team , Al-Nasr, and according to Saudi media reports, the five month-deal was concluded at 220,000 US dollars, with Al-Nasr having to pay 1.2 million dollars to Nigerian club side and two-time African champions Enyimba, to fully own Frimpong. While I am not in favor of his joining the team, the deal explains the difference between Ghanaian and Nigerian agents.
Player agents are exploiting these naïve players and selling them into “slavery.” We should get out of the shackles of colonialism. It is not anything foreign that is appealing. The national team has suffered a lot because of these. The Nigerians players are not better than our players; they just play in better leagues, and therefore are exposed to better conditioning. Players develop better when they play with good teams.
The Football Association needs to be proactive. There should be structures in place that would scrutinize transfers. In England no agent can have the leeway in player transfers. In England you won't get a contract if your national team is not in the Top 70. Ghana should take advantage of its top 50 status. Godwin Yaw Agboka Illinois State University USA Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.