It is no joy to 18 million Ghanaians that the national soccer team, the Black Stars failed to qualify for the 2004 African Cup of Nations Championship in Tunisia. The 1-0 defeat inflicted by war-torn Rwanda, means that for the first time since 1992, the four-times champions of Africa would not be counted among the elites of the African game. It is one news item that has brought gloom to the faces of many of the game’s followers in this country.
The defeat must rank among the worst national outings since football, as a sport became an organized national event with the formation at Cape Coast in 1903 of the Excelsior Football Club to lay the foundation of the game along the West Coast of Africa.
By every stretch of imagination, the conclusion of the three-nation league format with Ghana bottom of the group featuring Rwanda and Uganda represents a catastrophic failure on the part of this nation that pioneered the game along the West Coast.
Our failure against strife-torn Rwanda means in simple terms, that we are not good enough to be counted among the comity of international footballing nations. That is why talk of preparing for the 2006 World Cup, is sounding hollow.
Like the proverbial vulture, we seem to be concerned about the way things are done, when there is a disaster. In footballing terms there could not have been a worst disaster than failing against the likes of Uganda and Rwanda, both minnows of the African game.
As we mourn our exit from the continental championship, it behooves all of us to take a closer look at the way the game is administered in this country with a view to finding solutions to the myriads of problems plaguing the game. Weekend Agenda believes Bukhard Ziese; the West German contracted after a protracted wrangle to handle the national soccer team has no future with the Ghanaian game. He has lost grounds on the modern trends in the game and does not appear to have much regard for the competence of our local players.
Ziese has never won a single match since he was contracted. He refused to go to Tunisia with the Black Stars when the national team were involved in a four-nation tournament. Instead, he left Isaac Paha and Malik Jabir in charge of the team, while he junketed to Kigali to watch Uganda play Rwanda. He reported late in Lagos, where the Black Stars were involved in another four-nation affair with host Nigeria, Cameroon and Iran. After Ghana had lost the opening game with Nigeria, Bukhard appeared only to stop the Black Stars from honouring the third play-off match with Iran and embarrassed everybody.
Bukhard though is not the only problem. The whole structure of Ghana football needs to be thoroughly examined. From the Ghana Football Association, through the clubs to the way the various national teams are managed call for radical changes.
The Constitution of the Football Association, which allows hangers on to determine the future of the game under the guise of the Ghana League Clubs Association needs to be examined properly. No one is suggesting that club officials should not have a hand in the running of football. After all, it is the clubs who nurture the players to feature for the various national teams. But the tendency for GHALCA, for instance, to call all the shots in Ghana football tends to undermine how affairs are conducted at the GFA secretariat.
In October, the nation will reconstitute the GFA. Weekend Agenda hopes the reconstitution would provide avenues for committed people to come forward to serve Ghana football. One of the major problems plaguing this society is the tendency for people with very limited time for what they ask for to take positions they know they have very little time and expertise for.
Our football is sinking! We need to do a salvage job on it. Let us get down to the basis and stop behaving as if we have solutions to a problem, which is growing like a cancerous cell. This nation definitely deserves better.