Accra, Sept. 7, GNA - Coach Mariano Jeronimo Barreto has allegedly abandoned his post as the head coach of Ghana's senior national soccer team, the Black Stars, three days after guiding the team to the top of Group 2 of the Africa/World Cup qualifying series.
Information has it that Barreto left for Portugal on Sunday immediately after the Stars uninspiring 2-0 victory over tiny Cape Verde Islands, which drew a lot of criticisms from many angles.
The unconfirmed information gathered by the GNA also said Barreto has signed for Portuguese side C.S. Maritimo.
A source at the offices of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) said there are unaware of the departure of the coach as he has not officially informed them of his intention to quit the job.
According to a GNA source at the FA secretariat, the coach left Ghana with the reason that he was going to take care of some pressing family issues back home.
The news of the coach's departure thus caught the entire management board off guard resulting in a marathon crisis meeting on Tuesday to see how best to react to the news.
Meanwhile in a hurriedly prepared press release signed by Dr Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe, Chairman of the GFA after the crisis meeting, he said the association has initiated moves to contact the coach to confirm or deny the story.
The statement continued that the GFA has learnt with regret the publication in sections of the local and international press that the coach has deserted the Black Stars and allegedly secured a job with Portuguese division one side, Maritimo.
Barreto 47, was employed during the Ben Koufie administration in February this year after the untimely departure of another expatriate coach, Ralph Zumdick of Germany.
Coach Barreto signed a two-year renewable contract with the GFA and was given the task of qualifying the Black Stars and the national under-23 team, the Black Meteors to the 2006 World Cup in Germany and the just ended Olympic Games in Athens Greece respectively.
The coach passed his first test by qualifying the Meteors to the Olympic Games after beating Zambia 2-0 in the final qualifier at the Kumasi Sports Stadium in a group that comprised South Africa and Algeria.
The Meteors however failed to reach the quarter-finals stage at the Olympic Games Soccer Tournament, when they crushed out after a 1-0 defeat to the "whipping boys" Japan in the last game of the group stages when the team needed just a draw to move to the next stage.
With the Black Stars, even though his team took an early stumble, with their opening group game against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou, the team recovered to win two and drew one of their next three matches to climb to the top of Group 2.
Under his technical leadership, the Black Stars and the Meteors, the two teams played a total of 18 matches, won 16, drew one and lost one. Barreto had a tough battle with the Ghanaian media on the assumption of duty as a section of the media accused him of forging some sections of his curriculum vitae whilst he was also accused of being a technical instructor instead of a soccer coach.
The Portuguese who was formerly a physical trainer, had his first official coaching job when he was appointed coach of the senior national team.
He had previously worked as physical instructor with clubs like Sporting Club Lisbon de Portugal, Alverca and Bayer 04 Luverkusen. Barreto is expected to be on the bench of his new team when they take on Scottish side Rangers FC in the first round of the UEFA Cup on September 16.
His absence has left the job of the national team coach vacant as the Stars are scheduled to take on DR Congo on October 10 to complete the first round of the World Cup qualifying series.
The GFA has however assured Ghanaians that they will ensure that the qualification of Ghana to the 2006 World Cup is fulfilled.