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25.08.2004 Sports News

Barreto must stop the mind - games

By Ekow Omagbemi Arthur

The dream of the National Under 23 soccer team, the Black Meteors of annexing this years Olympic gold medal in Athens ended last Wednesday when they were crushed out by Japan, the whipping boys in the group.

It's really pathetic to see our young Olympic soccer team failing to qualify from the group stage of the competition.

Before the games our dream was to get to the medal zone and probably win the gold medal and equal the record set by Nigeria and Cameroun.

But that dream never materialized, thanks to Coach Barreto's tactics and strategy for our last group game against the Japanese who were the whipping boys in the group.

The Meteors preparations for the tournament wasn't the best as coach Barreto took the boys to his native country, Portugal to engage the team in a tournament against the second string teams of FC Porto and Benefica.

Thanks to lack of stiff opposition we won all our matches and thought all was well with the team. It got to the tournament and we were found wanting but one thing I realised from that training tournament was that we conceded a goal in every game which shows something was wrong with our defensive set up.

It's interesting to know that out of the three games that we played in Athens, we scored four goals and conceded four and the goals were scored by midfielders and a defender.

I was surprised that during the training tour, Barreto never realised that his defensive set up wasn't the best and never bothered to improve on that but rather decided to count on luck and went into the tournament with the same strategy.

With Ghanaians still finding it difficult to recover from that shocked elimination, Barreto is asking us to be proud of the Meteors performance. I was really disappointed with his interview after the game. Is he asking us to be proud of that appalling performance from his team or his killer strategy which crushed us out?

The team is a very promising one and I guess he let the team down by not mapping out the good strategy for the game against Japan. In the game against the Italians Barreto's tactics caused us the three points.

After taking a two goal lead in the first half the coach couldn't plan a strategy to defend those two gaols and probably add some more but he rather introduced a strategy which saw the Italians sharing the three points with us.

He shouldn't forget that nothing short of a medal was what Ghanaians were looking forward to and he shouldn't think that the tax payers money was used to send the team to Athens to add up to the number.

I believe if the team had a good technical direction they would have gone far in the competition and probably win a medal because this team is a medal winning one.

I doubt whether the Coach knew why he was in Athens because he kept on counting on luck in all the three games that we played. If he is not being able to achieve anything with this promising team then I don't know what else he can achieve with them in the near future.

At least Ghanaians saw two of the Meteors games live and Barreto is not the one to tell us to be proud of a team that failed to make hay whilst the sunshine.

I guess his employers needs to drum it into his ears that this is not the first time Ghana is taking part in the soccer competition of the Olympic Games. If he care to know we won bronze in 1992 in Barcelona the first Olympic soccer medal for Africa and we were in Atlanta in 1996.

He should stop behaving as if he is the first coach to qualify us for the soccer competition of the Olympic Games. Anyway, he should remember that coach Ralf Zumdick started it all.

All that he was trying to do was to cover up for his short falls and his poor training programme with the team in Portugal.

I believe some clauses in Barreto's contract needs to be changed especially where he has been given the mandate to be the only person to organise international matches for the national teams. Are we selling our birth rites?

So far we've seen the matches he has organised for the country and I must say that they are not the sort of matches we were looking forward to especially with the Meteors. Surprisingly all those games has been in his native country, Portugal.

The crop of players in the team is the best we can boast of as a country and I think they need a good technical direction to succeed.

I will like to call on the GFA to investigate the circumstance that led to coach Silas Tetteh been dropped by Barreto prior to the team departure to Portugal for the training tour which never yielded any positive result during the tournament.

He shouldn't forget the controversy that surrounded his appointment as the coach of the Black Stars and my piece of advice to him is that, he should concentrate on the Black Stars and make sure we qualify for the 2006 world cup in Germany.

We will never forgive him if we fail to qualify. He should stop counting on luck and build a team. I want him to know that his training programme in Portugal was bad and his first international tournament with Ghana was a fiasco.

Sit up and stop the mind-games with Ghanaians. A word to the wise…….

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