Sports Features of Saturday, 10 March 2012

Source: Ampofo-Ankrah, Yaw

Ghana coach sacked but juju remains?

That is the end of the story, right? Sadly, it isn’t. It just goes to prove that the level of pretence and hypocrisy in this beautiful country called Ghana is getting too ugly. Stevanovic knows he will be sacked barring a (gargantuan) reprieve from the top man in the land.

The coach has his people in the FA who fought for him (but reluctantly threw in the towel). He also has his informants via his local paid rep in Ghana (which is not unusual even in Europe). However, Sports Minister Hon Clement Kofi Humado refuses to spill the beans on the exact details that led to the no-win situation for the Serbian. He was briefed by the GFA President and he, in turn, has briefed President Mills. Actually, the latter accepts the sacking based upon the facts of the case against coach Stevanovic.

The Minister deserves an award for diplomacy (apparently he used to work at the UN) because as much as I tried to nick some clues from him, he did no wince. In fact, the President had no say in the matter, it has now emerged. The decision is entirely from the GFA even if the government pays.

After all, we do not want conflicting reports in the media, do we? There is nothing wrong with notifying President Mills who also loses appetite and sleep like any Ghanaian when defeat becomes too hard to accept. Indeed it is also an encouraging sign that my “friends” at the Castle are learning diplomacy in the communication game. We certainly will not have a repeat of the farce leading up to Nyantakyi’s CAF executive committee bid when individuals – with no knowledge of football’s facts – spoke on behalf of the President.

So what was the President told about allegations by players using juju against one another? See, the coach was only reporting what some players were accusing each other of doing. Taken-aback as he was, Plavi did not dwell on this issue too much. If you read the full report of the coach, he did not mention names and he did not elaborate on the form of black power or magic allegedly used… how would he know?

Let’s ask ourselves: How will the new coach deal with the potential old guard versus new kids on the block headache?

I hear people say the coach has disgraced Ghana but honestly, in which way is Goran Stevanovic guilty of that? Did he not come and meet the concert in the team or did he import it from Serbia? Does anybody seriously think these problems started with this particular Serbian?

Is that the end of the juju issue or is it too embarrassing a topic to debate? Was the coach briefed beforehand to expect “strange” things? If not, why not? How well was Stevanovic himself prepared by his employers for the task ahead? This is Ghana’s Black Stars we are talking about! I could go ahead asking you and myself so many questions. The truth is that the situation is pathetic.

When it is Haiti or Benin, then it is cool right? But within our beloved Black Stars how dare anyone, especially a foreigner, expose such a practise even if they were only allegations by players who were emotionally and physically drained?

I am not sure whether it is pity or sympathy that I have for Kwesi Nyantakyi. The poor man must sometimes wonder where the GFA boat is going.

Anyone who says he has not been a good leader is a liar. Nyantakyi is a democrat and he listens to all views before taking decisions. Sometimes, however, not all views are relevant views. It is simply not possible to please everyone at the expense of a solid unified team.

The GFA president has so much to deal with concerning the Goran Stevanovic issue.

I have told the FA chief on a few occasions to be more concerned about his praise singers than his critics. Your critics will keep you on your toes but praise singers will abandon you on their toes. Ironically, Nyantakyi knows this and he also knows that he must crack the whip or risk the fragmentation of the team that was adopted by Africans and neutrals alike as their own. Since South Africa 2010, the Black Stars have gone up and down in the FIFA World Rankings but slipped down in true quality and strength in depth.

Whichever coach gets appointed must listen but must ultimately be in charge, he must choose his captain and must be backed with the best physical and spiritual support he needs to succeed. Sadly, that was not the case for Plavi who will probably find another African adventure as a disappointed but a much wiser man.

I am certain that Nyantakyi is fully aware of the members of his executive committee who have vested interest in the Black Stars. It’s time to keep it tight and go back to basics. Clearly, the increase of personnel has not matched the increase in quality.

Don’t hate me for saying it. Play back the recording of the press conference to announce Ghana’s final 2012 AFCON squad and play back the recording of the press conference on the team’s return to the country after their fourth-place finish. You could see it in their eyes; boys to men, too afraid to boldly proclaim the truth because of fear or victimization.

The Black Stars team is getting loose because there are people too close to the sensitive decision-making despite having no business being there. Do not ask me who these people are. They know themselves and they are the ones leaking information to media when it suits their schemes. Kevin-Prince Boateng was betrayed by the FA and so he paid them back in kind. He is not alone but he was the most outspoken.

Have we learnt our lessons from the episodes of Sammy Kuffour, Laryea Kingston, Eric Addo, Michael Essien, Richard Kingston and from letting down our local players? When will the GFA come out and admit that they have also made mistakes? This is the time to smoke the peace pipe and allow the hurt and pain to heal because the silence of the victims is getting louder and louder. Those who know must act now.

As for we in the media, we can support the GFA’s mission as long as it remains noble. Yet we must still be fearless in criticism when the need arises. We are also part of the problem but too afraid to confront the truth head on. Our un-educated ranks continue to swell with such thrash and mediocrity that the public can no longer discern what is grey and what is black.

You wonder if the word journalism actually rings true to define this noble profession that is in a mess. There goes an invitation for insults but who cares, I have spoken the truth. Stevanovic is a goner but this is just half the story.

To be continued…

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Ghana coach sacked but juju remains?

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