He has captained Ghana’s senior national team, the Black Stars, for some seven years now, the longest of such service in the country’s history. And during this period, the nation has performed quite creditably on both the African and global soccer stage. Mr. Asamoah Gyan was the captain of the Black Stars in the 2014 Brazil-hosted World Cup, a tournament that was extremely poorly handled, on Ghana’s stateside, by the John Dramani Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). He has also been Skipper of the Black Stars in at least a couple of African Cup of Nations’ championships with Ghana, twice, painfully losing to the Egyptian national team.
We also learn that Ghana, which has won the AFCON tourneys four times and ranks third in the number of cups won on the primeval continent, has been wracked by a championship drought for some 37 years now. Asamoah Gyan, 33 years old, has unarguably distinguished himself on the Ghana national soccer team beyond question. But, of course, it has also increasingly become clear, at least in the last couple of years, that the longtime Skipper of the Black Stars is fast approaching the twilight of his indisputably sterling career. He is at the age when the overwhelming majority of professional soccer players hang up their jerseys and their boots, and ought to be frankly told – which is what Coach Kwasi Appiah, of Kumasi Asante-Kotoko fame, well appears to have done – upfront that while he may still have some firepower within him, nevertheless, Asamoah Gyan may not presently be the best position-player on the field.
Indeed, when he decided to retire from the Black Stars, President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo ought not to have promptly intervened in the manner in which he reportedly did, in order to prevail on Mr. Asamoah Gyan to rescind his decision. Very likely, it was the President’s quite well-known friendship with the much younger but clearly jaded or washed-out soccer star that prompted him to summon both Coach Appiah and Mr. Gyan to Jubilee House, or the Presidency, as a means of finding an amicable and lasting solution to the problem. Very likely, it was the apparently short-shrift treatment meted Mr. Gyan that had prompted the Presidential Summons of both Coach Appiah and the former Skipper. It clearly was not the primary intention or overriding objective of the President to interfere with the work or discretionary right of Coach Appiah to make any judgment calls that the latter deemed to be most appropriate and in the interest of the nation, in order to ensure that a cup-hungry Black Stars brought home the same this time around. I mean, how often have we not heart-wrenchingly witnessed Skipper Asamoah Gyan shoot wide and well over the bar, when we thought victory a split-second away from our laps?
True to form and practice, Nana Akufo-Addo did not disappoint, contrary to what a decisively long-defeated Akufo-Addo archnemesis, namely, Dr. Nyaho-Nyaho Tamakloe would have the general public believe. Indeed, as was to be expected, the wise, old man from Kyebi and Akyem-Abomosu did not disappoint. His very reputation and credibility depended on it. He would staunchly back the decision of Coach Appiah. Where media fixtures like Mr. Kwaku Baako, the veteran frontline and front-row journalist and Editor-Publisher of the hard-hitting New Crusading Guide newspaper, have their doubts is the widely alleged cocktailing of a dubious and clearly ceremonial title called “General Captain” that has been reportedly conferred on Mr. Gyan.
Interestingly, I happen to have a totally different take on Coach Appiah’s conferral of the General Captain’s title on Ghana’s longest-serving Skipper of the Black Stars. It may very well be a suave preparation and professionally constructive gradual transitioning of Mr. Gyan into the job that is presently held by Coach Appiah, who was in his heydays as professionally remarkable and even as distinguished a soccer star as Mr. Gyan, though relatively bereft of the sort of professional opportunities that appear to have widely opened up for the present generation of high-end Ghanaian/African soccer players. In short, Coach Kwasi Appiah was a pioneering lone ranger, relatively speaking.
As a “General Captain,” one expects Coach Appiah to work very closely together with Mr. Gyan on the former’s technical team. Then also, Asamoah Gyan could be envisaged to have been elevated to the preeminent status of a “First-Responder,” one who is ever-ready to be rushed in whenever the more agile but far less experienced defensive linebackers and mid-fielders run into trouble in their most challenging battles.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
May 25, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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