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15.12.2003 Football News

Frenchman To Replace Zumdick

By Maurice Quansah for Graphic
Frenchman To Replace Zumdick
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Ghana is back in the market in search of a replacement for Ralf Zumdick, who has turned down an offer to remain in charge of the Black Stars and Black Meteors, at the end of his three-month contract, which officially runs out on December 31.

The timing of Zumdick’s notice of exit has put the GFA on edge, as the sport’s governing body makes frantic efforts to ensure a smooth transition when the German leaves next month to take up a new job as assistant coach of Bundesliga side SV Hamburg.

As the GFA moves to find a quick-fix solution, pressure is beginning to bear on FA member and Ghana’s soccer Ambassador, Abedi Ayew Pele, to use his influence in international football circles to scout for another expatriate coach.

Faced with the seriousness of the expected vacancy, the GFA last Friday held an emergency meeting of its Management Board during which members weighed up all available options and eventually decided to revive the stalled negotiations with Frenchman Jean-Marc Nobilo. At the time of the GFA’s surprise decision in September to settle on Zumdick, Abedi has been mandated to negotiate a deal with Nobilo.

Abedi was naturally miffed at the FA’s indecisiveness and he openly distanced himself from the decision to gamble on a three-month deal with the German.

Against the background of what the former national captain he considered was a stab in his back, it remains uncertain if Abedi will enthusiastically play the role of Ghana’s broker in another negotiation with Nobilo, who is currently the Technical Director of the Lebanon FA. At the time of going to press, the Graphic Sports for comment on the FA’s ‘Sankofa’ directive.

Abedi, who spent the best part of his playing career in France, has high regard for the French-man who together with Briton Tony Woodcock, applied for the vacant job following the exit of controversial German coach Burkhard Ziese.

Nobilo visited Ghana last September for preliminary discussion with the GFA, but days later the Ben Koufie-led board trekked the risky path of a three-month marriage with Zumdick, who rode to the job on the back of two successful stints with Kumasi Asante Kotoko and King Faisal.

The urgency of GFA’s Christmas shopping in Europe is hinged on the fact that Zumdick will officially part ways with the national teams on January 2, after guiding the Meteors to play Algeria in an away Olympic qualifier. A GFA source told this paper at the weekend that the administration is hoping to appoint Zumdick’s successor by the time the Meteors play Algeria in Algiers.

After three coaching blunders - the controversial exit of Yugoslav Millan Zivadinovic and Burkhard and Zumdick’s short stint - the FA want to tread a cautious path to ensure that the unusual turnover of coaches does not derail the meteors’ Olympic qualifiers.

In less than three years since the administration took office, technical instability has been the status quo. Cecil Jones Attuquayefio began the six-man relay and ‘handed over’ to Fred Osam-Duodu, then to Zivadinovic to Emmanuel Akwasi Afranie to Ziese and then to Zumdick. The only uncertainty is who will receive the baton from the German.

This weekend Zumdick begins his farewell ‘tour’ by leading the Meteors to Lusaka to play Zambia in an Olympic group qualifier. After Saturday’s match, the German will again lead the team to North Africa for his final assignment against Algeria. The cool-headed coach has maintained his admirable demeanour since making public his decision to return home to take up a more lucrative offer by Hamburg.

During his short tenure he achieved modest success by leading a home-based Meteors side to win bronze in the All Africa Games in Nigeria and got a flying start in the Olympic qualifier with a 1-0 victory over South Africa in Accra.

Perhaps the high point of his stint so far is the Stars 7-0 aggregate victory over Somalia in a World Cup qualifier.

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