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28.02.2007 Football News

Le Roy Shuts Stars Door On Boakye

Germany-based striker, Isaac Boakye, may have played his last game for Ghana, at least during the reign of Coach Claude Le Roy after the Frenchman run out of patience and slammed the door on the VfL Wolfsburg player.

However, the international isolation of Livorno defender, Samuel Osei Kuffour, is unlikely to end any sooner as he has no place in Le Roy's immediate plans.

Boakye has made the headlines in recent times often for the wrong reasons, for lack of commitment towards the national team.

After turning down a number of invitations by Le Roy to feature in Ghana's post-World Cup international friendlies, the Frenchman and the Black Stars Management Committee resolved to keep Boakye out of their plans.

At a press conference at the GFA House at Ridge yesterday, Le Roy dropped the bombshell. "Boakye is finished with the team."

"We've tried several times but he refused, so he can choose to stay with his club, Wolfsburg, for the next 20 years," the Frenchman said in a furious tone.

For Le Roy commitment is a key criterion for selection into the Stars, irrespective of a player's reputation and form.

"If a Ghanaian player does not show and prove commitment for the national team, then he has no place in my team. It is very important for team cohesion because we have a team of committed players who are ready to die for the nation and so whoever does not show commitment will not be part of this group. Such players should rather stay with their club."

Former national coach Ratomir Dujkovic had similar problems with Boakye, who was often accused of placing club before country and being selective in national assignments, thus featuring in a handful of Ghana's World Cup qualifiers.

He scored twice in Ghana's 5-0 thumping of Somalia in Accra in the preliminary round in November, 2003 and played in the return leg at Obuasi. In the group stage however, Boakye played in only one out of 12 matches - the 2-0 victory over Uganda in Kumasi.

In his last appearance for Ghana on April 26, last year, Boakye limped off injured during Ghana's pre-World Cup friendly against German side VfB Stuttgart at Wursburg.

He never fully recovered from the injury by the time ex-Black Star coach Ratomir Dujkovic named his World Cup squad, and in the uproar that following his exclusion from the team, the striker announced his international retirement and accused the GFA of witch-hunt.

Subsequently, he rescinded his decision but never featured in any of Ghana's post-World Cup friendlies against Togo, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Nigeria.

Le Roy was not amused at the failure of Belgium-based Ibrahim Salou, Israel-based Derek Boateng and Ghanaian-born Dutch player Quincy Owusu-Abeyie to honour Ghana's international friendly with Nigeria in spite of earlier assurances.

Nonetheless, he presented them with another chance to be part of the team next month when the Stars play against Austria in Graz.

Italy-based Samuel Osei Kuffour however remains on the cooler for now as he has yet to impress the coach he can command a first team selection ahead of centre-backs Shilla Illiasu and John Mensah.

Le Roy admitted yesterday that the Livorno player is surplus to his requirement and would need to be in peak shape before he can reclaim his position.

The coach out of respect for the player said it would be unfair to invite Kuffour and leave him on the substitutes' bench.

"I knew Kuffour a long time ago because he was a big player at Bayern Munich but there are better players now than him and I don't want him as a substitute.

"If things are the same with him he'll not be in the team but you never know what will happen in future. The door is not shut on him."

Since his howler that gifted Italy a goal in Ghana's World Cup opener, the veteran defender has not featured for the Stars, even though the GFA invited him for the friendly against Togo, Japan and South Korea but he excused himself from those matches.

Story by Maurice Quansah