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25.02.2004 Football News

Ghana soccer has a lot catching up to do - Jones Attuquayefio

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"Sir" Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, former coach of the senior national team, Black Stars has said that Ghana has a lot of catching up to do if she wants to keep abreast with the leading contenders of the game on the African continent.

The coach who is on holidays after taking the Benin national team, the Squirrels to its maiden African Cup of Nations' in Tunisia recently said most countries formally not regarded as soccer nations have narrowed the hitherto gap adding "that it would take some serious effort for us to regain our former status".

Speaking in an interview with the GNA Sports in Accra, Coach Attuquayefio said there is the need for a radical overhaul of the way things are done in the soccer administration of the country if any meaningful achievement can be made.

"When you look at the just ended African Cup of Nations, which is the biggest showpiece soccer event on the continent, it was surprising that the Ghanaian football authorities did not deem it necessary to send a coach to learn or observe the countries that they would be playing against in the world cup qualifiers".

"It is important for us to learn from the experiences of all countries including those we are better off for us to know why they are catching up with us"

He said all notwithstanding, Ghana still possess one of the best materials on the continent, considering the quality of professionals and the teams they play for in Europe.

"What we now need is the will power to do everything with the national interest first and be prepared to die a little more for the country."

The coach said his personal experiences gathered from the African Cup has given him the chance to properly access the philosophy of the game and make the necessary adjustments to it.

Jones said it also gave him an insight to study the mentality of all the 22 players selected as they are all determined to play at a particular time even though only 11 players can play at a given time. Jones has been one of the most successful Ghanaian coaches in recent times to have handled the national under-17 team to win gold in the African competition followed by a bronze in the World even in New Zealand.

He also coached Accra Hearts of Oak to win three successive league trophies and crowned it with the Confederation of Africa (CAF) Champions League and Super Cup trophies in 2000, an achievement which won him the award for the best coach on the continent.

Jones, after a short unsuccessful stay with the Black Stars left for Benin where he qualified them to their first African Cup of Nations competition.

Unfortunately they were booted out in the first round loosing all their three group matches to Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco. The coach said even though his main aim of going to the African Cup was not fulfilled, Benin football learnt a big soccer lesson that when built upon would mark a turning point in their football.

He said before the tournament most people had little faith in the team's ability considering the type of opposition they were billed to play against but after "the three matches, our players and officials realised that names no longer play football and have since changed their orientation towards the game".

He said his future as the coach of the Benin national side is uncertain since his contract runs out in August.

Sir Jones said whatever the case, he would still be in coaching and would return to the country to take over the running of a local or national team if given the opportunity. 25 Feb 04

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