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13.07.2019 Feature Article

‘Forwards And Backwards’ With Ghana Football

‘Forwards And Backwards’ With Ghana Football

'K1: Koo, what at all is wrong with Ghana football these days? We seem to be going forwards and backwards!

K2: Forwards and backwards? Where did you hear that phrase? I practically own it!

– How come?

– Well, I have an old friend at Kyebi called Oheneba Yaw Takyi, or 'Akora Yaw' (as he is affectionately known). He is very well-spoken, and he used to tell us stories about his school days and some of the howlers he heard from guys who faced 'challenges' when they wanted to express themselves in English.

– And 'forwards and backwards' was one of their 'shots'?

– Yes! Akora Yaw says that one day, Kyebi Government Senior School was playing football against one of the less well-known schools in the area.

– Ei – as for Kyebi Government School, it's very well known. I heard that the products of that school were snobbish?

– Ho, it's not true! I went to that school, and am I snobbish?

– But 'the exception proves the rule!'

– That's a cliché, my friend. A person who has an inferiority complex will see a snub where none is intended. Because…

– Oh, take your quack psychology away, OK? What about backwards and forwards?

– Apparently, the Government School boys were thrashing the visitors, and their sports master got quite agitated. But instead of signalling to his boys to adopt more effective strategies, he went running along the line shouting at the top of his voice: 'FORWARDS AND BACKWARDS! …. FORWARDS AND BACKWARDS!'

– Hahahahahahaha! But if you just play forwards and backwards, you can never score a goal?

– Ahaaah! Well, the Government School spectators realised this and they took up the chant and started shouting, 'Forwards and Backwards!'. The opponents got completely confused and Kyebi Government School won by six goals to one or something!

– So you are telling me that it was because of the lack of vocabs by the sports master that the visitors lost the game?

– Well, if you are playing against a team and their spectators are constantly mocking at you, you will lose self-confidence get and get thoroughly whacked, no?

– So how does that apply to the Tunisians walloping the Black Stars on Monday, 8 July 2019?

– 'Forwards and backwards' can be a metaphor for what's been happening to Ghana football ever since our best home-grown coach, the late C K Gyamfi, won the African Cup of Nations trophy for us in 1982!

– But CK was a special case. He'd been in Ghana football for ever – first as a leading player with Kumase Asante Kotoko. At Kotoko, he played with football geniuses like Kwaku Dua and James Agyei. Then he formed his own team, Great Ashantis….

– So he knew man-management like the back of his hand?

– Exactly. Look, when he was recalled at very short notice to take over the Black Stars in 1982, Ghana had been quite unprepared, because there had been a decision not to go and play in Libya. You see, the Limann administration of the time suspected that Col Muammar Gadhafi wanted to overthrow Limann. Limann was in fact overthrown and his successor, J J Rawlings, of course, reversed the decision not to go to Libya. But the Black Stars, having given up the idea of going, were 'everything scatters', to quote Fela.

– I addition, Ghana was also very breaking at the time?

– Year, the rumour was that we couldn't even pay for our transportation to Libya!

– Yes, apparently, Gadhafi had to throw quite a few dollars our way! Anyway, most Ghanaians assumed that we would throw the match. Libya would win whenever we came against them at a crucial stage of the tournament.

– And we had to meet them at the most crucial point of all, the final?

– Yes. We drew 1-1 against them, and the match went into penalties. Surely, Rawlings, Gadhafi's great ally, would order our boys to throw the match? Well, it didn't happen. Whether JJ actually spoke to CK or not is not known. But CK could not be intimidated by anyone. He had been at Ohene Djan's side when Ghana earned its plaudits in international football, beating great teams like Blackpool of England. And drawing with Real Madrid.

– We beat Libya 7-6 after penalties, right?

– So did we! We won the African championship for the fourth time.

– And we've been going backwards ever since?

– Yes. We haven't had football administrators with an iota of the conviction that Ohene Djan exuded, and which had infected C K Gyamfi too.

– Dollars…dollars…. All the way these days?

– I swear! To the extent of having to hire a plane to fly dollars in cash to our players in Brazil!

– And one of our top soccer capos allegedly tried to bring the President's name into an aborted attempt at extortion?

– It's too disgraceful for words!

– And in the midst of all this bad history, they go and bring Kwasi Appiah to be the coach?

– Yes!

– A man who has issues with his own captain, Asamoah Gyan?

– A man who brings in an untried goal-keeper….?

– I say, where at all did he bring Ekuban from?

– The only guy who missed his shot in the penalty shootout? Only Jah knows.

– We're truly moving backwards and forwards.

– And Ghanaians are now laughing at their own team. Did you hear the rumour that either an ineffective juju or a false prophet was involved in our defeat?

– You don't say!

– Oh-hoh!

– HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

By Cameron Duodu

Cameron Duodu
Cameron Duodu, © 2019

Martin Cameron Duodu is a United Kingdom-based Ghanaian novelist, journalist, editor and broadcaster. After publishing a novel, The Gab Boys, in 1967, Duodu went on to a career as a journalist and editorialist. Author column: CameronDuodu

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