27.08.2003 Sports News

The Way Forward For The Black Stars

By Graphic
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There is this popular proverb in my village which says: “If a giant dried shea tree stands conspicuously just at the outskirts of a village while the villagers always by pass it further into the bush in search of less potent firewood, then that ‘shea tree’ is either a cursed one or a revered deity of the people” (shea trees are very ideal for firewood). Anybody out of ignorance or otherwise who ventures this ‘shea tree’ brings needless calamity to himself and the household.

Burkhard Ziese is cast in the mould of this ‘shea’ tree he has brought complete disaster to Ghanaians, some of us, our hearts are still bleeding and it may bleed for long time to come. It is just unacceptable that come CAN 2004 Ghana will not respond to the roll call. Two questions we failed to ask ourselves before engaging him were: Why Burkhard Ziese one-time messiah of Ghana soccer was miserably booted out in most bizarre manner by the then authorities. Why has he been without contract all these years notwithstanding his relatively cheaper contractual terms? I am not crying over spilt milk, what still baffles most of us is that the coach continued to live in a dream land well after the Kigali match.

In a post match interview he blamed the defeat on the absence of the 49-year old Eddie Ansah and he declared his intention to send us to the World Cup 2006. What a funny man, he was not able to qualify for a 16-team competition how can he make it to the best five?

The big question now is, when at all will these circles of failures end? The two identified problems which have plagued the performance of the Black Stars all these years were and will continue to be incompetence of the coaches and lack of commitment on the part of the foreign-based players. How can we turn around these two situations?

Until the Minister for Sports and the whole GFA become conscious of their responsibilities and expectations of Ghanaians we can never put to sleep the problems. I would remember vividly sometime ago the former sector minister E. T. Mensah described his ministry as less important.

He may be right to some extent. Especially in the face of our economic adversities, we can’t sacrifice matters of education, health, energy, food etc. for sports. If it is so then countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, Rwanda should not even have national teams let alone qualifying for CAN 2004.

The advent of the present administration must change the old order. Gone are the days when the whole Head of State I. K. Acheampong of blessed memory for obvious reasons headed the ministry himself, not forgetting the great importance the legendary Dr Kwame Nkrumah also attached to sports and football in particular, the results are there for all to see.

All that I am trying to say is drink deep or taste not. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports must make available enough funds for the GFA to engage a first class foreign coach of track record, if really we still prefer the white skin coaches.

There is nothing good which is cheap, that is why Burkhard recently made reference to his $10,000 monthly salary when he was being accused of incompetence, which means the guy himself is aware he is a cheap “commodity”.

On the other hand, we can once again fall on any of the local coaches with good credentials. They are there, with the right atmosphere they will perform. I don’t know why Jones Attuquayefio was kicked out in 2000 and later Afranie in 2003. I’m happy their exit is not linked with non-performance. Ironically, the only match Black Stars won in the CAN 2004 qualifying series was under GHANAIAN Coach Afranie.

Secondly, the lack of commitment on the part of foreign-based players is a very pathetic issue especially when one comes to think of how these so called professionals were brought up by this very GFA. Experience has shown that no amount of verbal campaign or appeal we embark upon without financial benefit to the players can change their attitude, hence the only way to reverse this trend is to increase incentives to a level just as Nigeria is doing now.

Alternatively, we built the team around the local ones and beef it up with the few identified loyal foreign-based players. I hope the implementation of any of the above suggestions will definitely save us permanently from the agonies we have been through all these years.

Lest I forget, when Joe Aggrey was first appointed Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, it brought some kind of relief to soccer fans because he portrayed to all that he was a man of vision.

However, it seems the worst is happening during his term of office, also Abedi Pele would have been more useful in the technical set up than in soccer administration.

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