When Ghana's soccer super star, Micheal Essien missed the African Cup of Nations held in Egypt in 2006, he was openly castigated by Ghaanains for letting the country down. In fact, the criticisms were so severe that the player had to rush to the Ghana High Commission in London to render an apology to his fellow countrymen and women that he did not deliberately boycott the tournament.
With the experience that Essien went through, one would have thought that his colleague Black Stars players have learnt some lessons from the Essien saga, but that is not the case. As we write, another Black Stars seniour player, Sulley Ali Muntari is in the news for failing to honour the recent Mali match in Bamako.
Though Muntari reportedly claimed that he was injured and could, therefore, not honour the match, Ghanaians were not prepared to accept his excuse. To make matters worse, the mother of the player also went on air to state that the Black Stars can not survive without her son. This statement by the player's mother appears to have fueled the suspicion that the player deliberately boycotted the match. Sulley, like other players in the national team has every right under the constitution of this country to refuse to play for the national soccer team.
But it would be morally wrong for any Black Stars player to boycott the team, because most of them rode on the back of the national teams, which are funded by the tax payer's money, to attain their current fame. There are thousands of Ghanaian footballers who could have played for the national junior teams, but only a few were lucky and got selected to play for the nation, which gave them the opportunity to market themselves to the outside world. It is therefore a sign of ungratefulness when some of these footballers intentionally decide not to respond to national calls.
To ease public anger against the conduct of Sulley Muntari, The Chronicle is appealing to the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to thoroughly examine the medical reasons that he gave to be excused from national duty. If after these investigation, the GFA is able to establish that the player indeed had justification in whatever excuse that he gave, the football controlling body must come out and let the public know.
If on the other hand the GFA is able to establish that the player simply refused to play for the national team, because without him there would be no Black Stars, as claimed by his mother, then he must immediately be expelled from the team. Great players like Abedi Pele, Tony Yeboah and Mohammed Polo just to mention a few have come and gone, but the Black Stars still remains. No single player should be allowed to bluff the nation. After all, Sulley Muntari could not make it to Mali but the team was able to win by two goals to nil.
GFA should begin to learn from their counterparts in Nigeria who declined to call some of their big name players because they refused to play in friendly matches. This is the only way Ghana can also instill discipline in the team, and avoid the situation where a player will think he is above the team. We hope Mr. Nyantakyi and his hard working management team would come out to state their position on this Muntari matter.