By I. K. Gyasi
(1) Every Ghanaian who is available for the national team will always be considered.' -
Black Stars Coach Kwesi Appiah, quoted in THE INFORMER of Wednesday, August 28-Thursday, August 29, 2013, and sourced from the GOAL newspaper.
(2) 'At no point should this nation go begging for players to play for the national team' – Veteran Sports journalist Kwabena Yeboah in an interview.
Though I hate stereotyping, I cannot help, but observe that we Ghanaians appear to see law-breakers as victims whom we should defend and protect, instead of backing the enforcers of the law.
I have heard people talk as if Coach Akwasi Appiah and the Ghana Football Association are the villains, while Kevin Prince Boateng, Sule Muntari, Andre Dede Ayew and Jordan Ayew are saints, more sinned against than sinning.
People have spoken as if these football (soccer) players are on record to have won the FIFA World Cup for Ghana, and will definitely win it for the country in Brazil next year, 2014.
Until these players were recalled into the national team, the Black Stars, what happened? Let me take the case of Kevin Prince Boateng first.
As we all know, Boateng has a German mother and a Ghanaian father. He had a choice of playing for Germany or for Ghana. He chose to play for his fatherland, Ghana. Suffice is to say that when he featured for Ghana in the last FIFA World Cup, he played very brilliantly, scoring some spectacular goals.
Thereafter, at a certain point, Boateng stated it loud and clear that he could not effectively carry the burdens of playing for his Italian club, AC Milan, and the Black Stars. He chose to play for AC Milan.
I understand that he wrote to the GFA to that effect. I also understand that a number of overtures were made by the football authorities to change his mind, but to no avail.
Now, if he wrote to a letter to indicate that he would have no part of the Black Stars, was it not the most sensible thing on the part of the GFA to ask him to show a written indication of his desire to return to the Black Stars?
What was the difficulty in the writing such a letter? Inability to read and write? Pride? Arrogance? Shame? What finally compelled him to write?
One more question. Can he now endure the physical and psychological strain of playing for a club and a country? Is this not a legitimate question to ask, even if, as Dr. Nyaho-Tamakloe says, we should not question the motives that impelled him and the Ayew brothers to write letters rescinding their decision to leave the Black Stars?
Sule Muntari is not known to have written to leave the Black Stars. It is said that after Coach Appiah had substituted him in a match, he (Muntari) made, abusive and rude gestures of disapproval, and that, in the dressing room after the match, he was even more virulently abusive.
The GFA did not sack him from the Black Stars. All that it demanded was a public apology, since part of Muntari's rude behaviour had taken place in public.
Once again, why was the apology not immediately forthcoming? Was it because Muntari felt he was right and Coach Appiah wrong? Was it due to ill-manners and a short-fused temper far more frequently than is good for him as a player? Was it due to an exaggerated opinion of himself as the best player the world has ever known, and will ever know?
A sports commentator has said that some very good players become mavericks, that is, not readily amendable to discipline or conformity and, therefore, should be tolerated.
Is that so? What about the contagious effect of indiscipline on the rest of the team? After all, football is a team sports. Consequently, no matter how understanding a player may be, it ultimately takes team work for him to shine. How many goals did Lionel Messi score all by himself from his goalkeeper's side to the opponents' goalkeeper's side? A time comes when the authorities must draw the line somewhere.
The Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan. The information is that these two brothers also formally wrote to say that they were leaving the Black Stars. Andre is said to have stated that if the GFA did not consider him good enough, then he was going to his club to learn how to play, so that he would later be worthy of consideration for selection into the Black Stars.
I am perfectly willing to concede that sometimes, it is not always easy to handle fame, especially when one is young. However, that is no reason why proper guidance should not be given to ensure that precocity, adulation and the sudden intrusion of wealth do not go to the head of the successful person.
It may not be necessary to subject the Ayew brothers to any unnecessary cross-examination about their motives for returning to the Black Stars.
Still, we are entitled to ask the two whether they have returned of their own volition, or as a result of the intervention of President John Mahama?
Has Andre resolved all the problems he said he had with the football authorities, or is he now going to talk with them? Has Jordan now learnt to play the kind of football that fits the standard of the GFA?
I agree one hundred percent with Coach Akwasi Appiah when, speaking of the returnees, he said, 'It is always good to have lots of potions. I am happy that they have made themselves available to play for the Black Stars, and I am ready to work with every player. We are all chasing same goal: winning against Zambia.' (Ibid, THE INFORMER).
But, I also agree one hundred per cent with Mr. Kwabena Yeboah that we should not beg any Ghanaian to play for the Black Stars or, for that matter, compete for Ghana in any sporting event if he is unwilling to do so. In any case, I do not know of any law that makes it a crime for such a person to refuse to do so.
Again, nobody should think that it is a sign of being unpatriotic if a Ghanaian refuses to compete in a sporting event, or even if he switches nationality, however painful that might be.
On the other hand, we should also welcome those able, ready and willing to carry the flag of Ghana anywhere and in any field of human endeavour, sporting, educational or otherwise.
It goes without saying that Zambia has always proved a hard nut to crack. Moreover, if we have to go to Brazil in 2014, we have to jump over the Zambian hurdle by, at least drawing, or at best, winning.
We need obviously to field the best. But Coach Kwesi Appiah and the GFA should not be stampeded into fielding anyone with an exaggerated opinion of his self-importance and playing ability. Ability, form, commitment and discipline should determine the selection.