Blame Coach, Not Me — Ping-Pong Star
Ghana's ping-pong star, Solomon Akunnor, has blamed national team coach Mr Vincent Arhin for his disqualification from the opening Under-18 match against Congo Brazzaville in the just-ended African Youth Table Tennis Championships held in Accra.
He stressed that the nation could have been spared that embarrassment had the coach lived up to his responsilities. “I think the whole issue came about as a result of breakdown in communication between the coach and myself”. According to the London-based player, he was the only player whose passport was not collected by the coach prior to the tourney though he qualified on merit to be part of the Ghanaian team for the tournament.
He revealed that it was at the tournament venue that he was informed by the coach that he would feature in the Under-18 as well as the U-21. He said while he thought that all the necessary requirements had been satisfied by the Ghanaian officials, he had a shock of his life when the Chief Umpire stepped in to halt his game against a Congo Brazzaville opponent.
He disclosed that the umpire requested for his passport which he readily produced. “Fortunately for me, I had my passport in my bag and immediately released it to him. This was at a time I was leading my opponent 2-0 in the best out of five match,” he said.
The player who plays for Langdon Club in London noted that that unfortunate incident had a psychological effect on him throughout the tournament no matter how he struggled to organise himself.He however, denied rumours that he was 21 years old. “I can't be 21 when the date of birth in my passport is November 27, 1985”, he explained.
According to him, he later learnt from the the tournament officials that the age requirement for U-18 was January 1, 1986 and below which the coach was aware. Based on his disqualification from the U-18, he had no option than to concentrate on the U-21 event.
Speaking in a no-holds-barred interview with the Graphic Sports last Sunday, Akunnor who partnered Nana Yaw Boateng, David Carboo and Eric Agyemang to win the U-21 team bronze for Ghana, pointed out that the Junior Black Loopers could have won more than the three bronze medals they won in the championships had player-selection been right.
The player who noticed some favouritism in the coach's selection cited their U-21 semi-final clash against Tunisia which they should have won to qualify for the final to win either the gold or silver.
“After myself and Nana Yaw Boateng had won our respective matches to take a commanding lead against the Tunisians, we all thought the coach would use Eric Agyemang to crown it all, but he rather preferred David Carboo who lost that crucial match which inspired our opponents to beat us 3-2 and book the final ticket”, he explained.
He was also of the opinion that boys U-15 player, Benjamin Nelson, could have secured Ghana a medal had he not been pushed to the U-18.According to Akunnor, the poor pairings made by the coach for the doubles and mixed doubles also robbed the Loopers of medals.
“As a result of this, I asked to be excused from the mixed doubles since I felt I could not play with my female partner.He noted that the only difference which existed between them and their tougher opponents from Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria was consistency which they had acquired from frequent international competitions.