local clubs refuse to release players The planned friendly between the national Under-23 team, the Black Meteors and their Portuguese counterparts, in Colvilha has been cancelled.
The Ghana Football Association took the decision to cancel the trip late yesterday following the refusal of local clubs to release their players for the international tie, which was arranged as part of the Meteors preparations for the Athens Olympics in August.
Soccer Express investigations on the aborted trip indicate that following last weekend's poor results chalked by Ghana's four representatives in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) organised competitions all four clubs expressed their reservations about releasing their players to the national cause at a time when they need the full complement of their players to prepare towards crucial second leg ties.
FA General Secretary, Kofi Nsiah, confirmed in two interviews with the Soccer Express that the clubs had made their intentions known to the FA yesterday in spite of the early invitation notices sent to them.
While Nsiah believed notices had been given well in advance, officials of Kumasi King Faisal and
Accra Hearts of Oak did not agree with the FA scribe.
Hearts coach, Ernst Middendorp was upset about the total disregard for protocol and accused the national coach of speaking to his players without any recourse to his position as the technical director of the team.
Hearts Chief Executive Tommy Thompson later confirmed that his side had refused to release Dan Coleman for the Portugal trip as per earlier communication to the FA in which the Phobians indicated they were not ready to release any of their players to the national teams until the end of May.
In Kumasi Alhaji Karim Grunsah had some harsh words for the invitation of players like Yahuza Abubakar, Eric Gawu and Elliasu Alhassan.
The angry King Faisal Chairman described the mode of invitation of his players as 'foolish" when contacted by Tema-based Adom FM.
Just like Hearts he was emphatic that none of his players was going nowhere.
Interestingly Obuasi Goldfields who do not have any continental campaign also refused to release their trio of Lamine Nasir, Shaibu Yakubu and Isaac Amoako, Soccer Express gathered.
Meteors coach, Mariano Barreto flew to Europe last Friday ahead of the August 22 tie with the Portuguese, ostensibly to invite some foreign-based players for the match. At a media briefing last week the Portuguese trainer said he intended to invite players like Baffour Gyan, Sulley Muntari, John Mensah, Razak Pimpong and Addoquaye Pappoe.
Officials of the FA and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports held frantic meetings throughout yesterday and after a host of trans-continental telephone calls to the national coach a decision was taken to cancel the trip.
"When it became clear the local contingent will not make the trip, we asked Barreto to see if he could get a full complement of foreign-based players but things did not seem to work out as we had requested him to invite only players he was sure were Athens bound," Kofi Nsiah told the Soccer Express.
The Meteors were scheduled to emplane last night for Lisbon and return on Saturday, a day after the aborted friendly. BALLISTON DEAL OFF The much-touted kit deal for the national team arranged by the former Chairman of the Ghana Football Association, Ben Koufie has been cancelled.
FA sources told the Soccer Express that the deal with French company, Balliston was cancelled at the instance of Balliston who say they no longer have interest in the kit sponsorship deal.
Balliston's withdrawal means Ghana once again has no kit sponsorship and will have to quickly source a deal to enable the Meteors have appropriate kit ahead of their Olympic Games participation in August.