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15.07.2014 Feature Article

Why The Black Stars failed in Brazil

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With the dust just settled over the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, we thought it appropriate to put Ghana's performance under the microscope. It did not come as a surprise to me that the Black Stars did not get past the group stages.

There are a plethora of reasons why team Ghana performed disastrously at the World Cup and the essence of this article is to examine some of the key reasons why this was the case and to offer tangible alternatives as to how Ghana can rectify this for Russia 2018

Generally speaking the fundamental reason for Ghana's failure in Brazil was down to investment and this investment manifests itself in 5 key areas. These are;

1. The first reason Ghana failed to get past the group stages is due to a lack of first class infrastructure for its footballers at ALL levels. This comes in the form of inadequate training equipment/facilities, lack of highly professional trainers, lack of appropriate training centers and lack of good quality up-to-date training programmes.

2. The next reason why Ghana failed in Brazil is due to a lack of a long term football developmental plan that will produce the champions of tomorrow. This will encompass on key aspects of the football development plan - this plan and its implementation will be detailed in the way forward.

3. Another reason why Ghana failed to get to the knock out stages is due to a lack of investment in sports science. Over the last 35 years sports science has played key role in producing successful football teams like the Germans and Dutch and research has shown that countries which devote the necessary resources to sports science have reaped enormous benefits - again this will be discussed in more depth in the way forward.

4. The next reason Ghana failed to deliver was due to poor preparation time.

5. The last reason for the abject performance in London and for me this is perhaps the most important one is Ghana's inability to develop a comprehensive system / developmental programme that will harness the next generation of football talent right from the infant level through to senior level.

The way forward:
The way forward then to improve The Black Stars performance at future World cup tournaments will consist of the following.

1. Lack of adequate sports infrastructure - If Ghana is going to be successful at future World Cups it has to invest heavily in its football infrastructure. Apart from the re-constructed Accra and Kumasi Sports Stadia and the new ones in Tamale and Sekondi, Ghana's football infrastructure is very poor indeed.

The government if they are serious about wanting Ghana to succeed in future World cups must as part of national development plan, build more first class football developmental centers from the grassroots level to the professional level. In addition to this, efforts must be made to ensure too that the facilities in these football development centers are excellent.

In addition to this, attention must be paid to have the best and most professional trainers in the market and coupled with this are first class relevant training programmes that will get the best of all the athletes that go through this programme.

2. Development of a football development programme - This is at the heart of Ghana's success in the future. Huge investment must be put into this area by first identifying the system and approach to football, just like Barcelona did when Pep Guardiola became their manager, then putting in place a framework and a long term strategy to find the Asamoah Gyan's of tomorrow by incorporating the issues raised in point one and sticking to that plan.

As part of this plan there must be an implementation strategy, an exit strategy and should the plan be difficult to execute, an alternative strategy must be set aside - this will ensure continuation of the plan with the same objective which is to breed future champions.

3. Sports science - This is a crucial area of concern and is a key component if Ghana is to succeed in the future. By following the above football developmental plan, the football authorities will be best placed to implement as part of that policy a sports science component to it.

This will enable them to research into the latest techniques into football the authorities in Ghana deem as key to securing future success. In addition to this research will be done into issues like sports diet and nutrition, coaching techniques, sports psychology, developing a winning mentality and research into traditional sports medicine.

When this research has been extensively undertaken the fundamentals will be there to ensure that The Ghana Football Association develops a sports science framework that will yield positive results based on the objectives of the football development plan.

4. Poor preparation time - It was evidently obvious from the performance of the Black Stars and even some of the of the players such as Kevin Prince Boateng and Michael Essien were carrying niggling injuries that the Black Stars Ghana were ill-prepared for Brazil.

In an event of such magnitude, considering one is competing against the very best in world, one needs at least a four year cycle to fully prepare taking into consideration some of the issues raised in point 3.

It is totally unacceptable that the GFA did not realize this point and did not put in the necessary time, effort and resources to ensure that our footballers were adequately prepared for Brazil. This inadequate preparation showed a lack of leadership and vision on behalf of the government - i.e. the ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ghana Football Association (GFA).

Preparation also includes dealing with financial issues. It was unacceptable and quite frankly an embarrassment and national shame concerning the players revolt that culminated in the airlift of US$3 million dollars from a country that is facing severe economic hardships.

The preparation for the next World Cup in 2018 in Russia, should Ghana get there, needs to START NOW! By implementing some of the above recommendations and this is crucial if Ghana is to do well i.e. round two onwards in Russia.

5. Comprehensive Football development programme - This is at the heart of the whole strategy to get Ghana winning a future World Cup.

Incorporated into the whole football development plan, this initiative will fundamentally look at formulating a nationwide football framework that seeks to unearth potential talent up and down this country, then seeking to harness and develop that talent using the football centers of excellence mentioned above, coupled with the sports science component of the plan to develop the champions of tomorrow.

The essence of this football development programme is to have sub-sections for example an under 7's, under 10's, under 15's etc development programme by going into each of the 10 regions of Ghana to find talent by having a series of workshops, seminars and road shows each having criteria to find potential talent and nurturing and developing that talent.

When that talent has been found all the components in the plan especially the sports science component must be implemented to guarantee the optimum target which is producing world class footballers that can compete on the global stage and win tournaments.

The GFA in this country must be serious if the Black Stars are to achieve major success in the future. They must not put their heads in the sand and expect results. They must be proactive, innovate and creative and use wisely the resources available to them and deliver for mother Ghana.

Kwame Osei, Dr.
Kwame Osei, Dr., © 2014

The author has 116 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: KwameOsei

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