Coach Duncan Spills the Beans
Embattled Black Starlets' coach David Duncan has opened the can of worms at last, apparently to set the records straight.
This follows weeks of blame-shifting and fault finding, coupled with direct accusations from the Chairman of the Black Starlets Management Committee, Mr. Fred Crentsil, with regard to the Starlets' early exit from the just-ended FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament in Peru, which had caused the coach to give an ultimatum to Mr. Crentsil to come out clean or he would squeak.
With the ultimatum not being honoured, the frustrated Coach now makes startling revelations that suggest the Starlets were robbed of a possible success at the tournament, owing to the ineptitude of the team's Management Committee.
Speaking in an interview with The Chronicle, he said but for the high sense of discipline and strong will of the players and their technical handlers, the Ghanaian squad could have suffered a far more humiliating campaign at the tournament.
"Under the circumstances that we worked, I give enough respect to my boys for their output although we could not go beyond the first round," he said.
"We were almost doomed for the worst, considering the kind of preparation we had had before we entered Peru," he lamented.
According to him, the Management Committee's attempt to blame the team's early exit from the tournament on coaching was only an exercise in shifting blame and a cover up of their inefficiencies as far as management of the team was concerned.
Taking exception to comments and statements attributed to Mr. Fred Crentsil, Chairman of the Management Team, in the October 18-20 edition of the state-owned "Graphic Sports", Duncan said it was important for the world to acknowledge how his preparation programme was disrupted by botched training tours of the United Kingdom and the United States.
A total of three-week training tour of the two countries failed to materialize because, according to official response, the team was refused traveling permits by the two countries.
Duncan, however, attributes the failure to secure visas for the team to management's ineptitude, suggesting that it was their duty to ensure that the team got the chance to travel for the training programme.
The team was, however, finally hauled to Brazil some two weeks before the start of the tournament but Duncan said the trip was unnecessary in view of what he called clumsy travelling arrangements that added to needless waste of time in Brazil.
"My training programme was not just about traveling outside to any destination," he said.
He insisted that the tour of the United Kingdom was to provide the team adequate rehearsal of game plans, build endurance, and test their strength against competitive youth sides, among others, while the United States was to provide them a chance to train on the artificial pitches and master play on those surfaces, too.
As things turned out, he said, Brazil had no artificial surfaces, while management never provided the special boots used on those surfaces.
The artificial pitch- a blend of ground rubber, synthetic fibers and sand - was used at the Peru tournament. Aside its slippery nature, the field was watered before every match to make the ball, and by extension, the game faster.
The coach described as fallacy, the statement he prevented the team from training on the artificial turf at the Feyenoord camping base, explaining that, "It could not have even been possible to train there, since the team was at the time in the selection process."
In the publication under reference, Mr. Crentsil alleged that boots provided for the artificial surface were used for ceremonial purposes. But Duncan again insisted that what management considered to be appropriate were in fact some heavy shoes, different from the multi-stud shoes suitable for the artificial turf.
He said at the peak of the poor traveling arrangements, six players of the team, including two of his first team players, namely Sadat Bukari and Mubarak Wakasu, arrived in Peru from Brazil about two days before the tournament, and consequently missed Ghana's training days on the artificial surface.
"It was obvious in our games that the players were struggling to adapt to the pitch," Duncan said, adding that, apart from these factors, he was forced to drop as many as six of the eighteen players who had made Ghana proud in The Gambia. He revealed that goalkeeper Nana Bonso and Jonathan Quartey would have been affected but for his swift intervention.
"The management requested that I sack some of the regular players from camp on the grounds of indiscipline, which suggestion I declined," the coach disclosed.
For this reason, he revealed, new sets of players were always invited to camp for a selection exercise to restock the vacuum created by the imminent exit of six key players at a time other opponents were concentrating on preparations for the World Cup.
Gambia, for example, was in Holland, another country that attended the World Cup, for not less than a month before the tournament.
As though these were not enough, he said various promises, including African Cup qualification bonus, World Cup qualification bonus, and other incentives, either failed to reach them or were slashed after the team had achieved those targets.
He said these issues lowered morale largely but the three draws in Peru showed a team of character.
He questioned how the various donations, including a total ¢40 million donated by GLICO separately before tournaments in Gambia and Peru were used to the team's benefit.
Duncan, however, said he had not regretted his role as Starlets coach. At least, three of his players dropped from the Peru squad, Jerry Akaminko, Michael Addo and Kennedy Korlie, have become part of the national Under-20 team.
"I am glad I have built a team that the nation can rely on in the coming year. "If I get the opportunity to do it again, I will not change the principles that guided my decisions on the job," he asserted.