Sports Features of Tuesday, 30 October 2012
THE INSIDER: Appiah must root out indiscipline in Stars
No coach worth his socks tolerates indiscipline in his team. It is a canker that destroys team spirit and everything a team represents if unchecked.
Any form of disrespectful behaviour emanating from player egoes if not properly dealt with from the beginning can have disastrous consequences on team spirit.
Infact, many believe the golden generation of Black Stars players in the 90â€™s failed to lift any major silverware during their era due to divisions over team captaincy.
Many other examples come to mind: the French national football team at the 2010 World Cup, the current Ivorian national team and of course, the Black Stars team that played at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea (AFCON).
The situation at the AFCON really got out of hand with accusing fingers being pointed at some players for using â€œblack magic to destroy themselves,â€ the Black Stars technical report revealed.
There were clashes in camp between senior players and junior players, as the two sets of players tried to satisfy their egos and show who was in charge.
In the immediate aftermath of the tournament, the then coach of the Black Stars, Goran Stevanovic said: â€œWe have to instill discipline and respect for each other.â€
Eight months after that damming technical report by the Serbian, what has been done to remedy the situation? Well, indiscipline has reared its ugly head again and this time it involves one of the key players of the team: Andre Dede Ayew.
The Marseille kingpin refused to shake hands with his colleagues and the technical team following his substitution in the 70th minute in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations second leg qualifier in Lilongwe. An angry Ayew reportedly cast aspersions when he was making his way to the bench and went to the extent of openly questioning his substitution when he asked a team official, "did I tell you I'm tired.?"
The act did not go unnoticed by the Ghanaian contingent to the match including journalists but Ayew failed to apologise for the act. Watching the game on GTV at home, I couldnâ€™t help but notice that Ayew failed to join the team celebration after the game as his teammates and other officials rushed onto the field. Ayew stood rooted to a spot alongside a team official.
There is no doubt the Black Stars team code of conduct, which all the players have signed onto, has been breached and the FA has moved quickly to issue an ultimatum to the midfielder to issue an apology.
Ayewâ€™s misconduct is quite grave and he must be made to issue a written apology not only to his teammates and technical team, but also to the FA and Ghanaians at large.
A source close to the national team recently told me of growing indiscipline in the team to the extent that matters came to a head when the Stars last played Malawi in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations first leg qualifier at the Accra Sports stadium. Lots of eyebrows were raised when Kwasi Appiah dropped as many as five players for the return leg encounter.
The list included Jordan Ayew, Derrick Boateng, Samuel Inkoom, Daniel Opare and Jerry Akaminko. One only wonders if some of the players were axed on disciplinary grounds despite Kwasi Appiahâ€™s insistence that the doors of the national team are still wide open.
Ayew has a lot of qualities that easily makes him a crowd favourite and a stand out player any day. Here is a player who has a desire, hunger and linked with talent. He has come a long way in proving his unshakable allegiance to the national team ever since playing his first major tournament for Ghana in 2008.
Having had the privilege of interviewing Ayew on www.liquidsportsghana.com earlier this year, I have no doubt that Ayew has what it takes to captain the national team after leading Ghana to win gold at the 2009 Fifa Under 20 World Cup, coupled with his displays at the 2010 Fifa World Cup and recently at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
He is a fighter, motivator and inspires a lot of confidence in other players. I think our national team deserves somebody of his caliber to become captain despite the existence of a so called hierarchy where a player can only become captain based on seniority.
I beg to differ; team captaincy must not be solely based on seniority but also the natural ability to lead. The situation whereby team captain John Mensah has almost always been absent from the national call in recent times is not the best.
Itâ€™s about time the mantle is handed to somebody who plays regular football at his club side and has the ability to play 90% of our international matches.
The role of the captain in resolving internal disputes and ensuring strict adherence to the code of conduct cannot be over emphasized. Stephen Appiah set the example during his reign, no wonder he is always hailed as the major unifying factor when the Black Stars twice qualified for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Truth be told, the national is yet to replace Appiah following his retirement from international football after the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Could Andre Ayew be the one to take us back to the glory days again? He surely will not be on anybody's wish list for now. Only time will tell.
But then again, if indiscipline has been a problem in camp all this while then what steps has Kwasi Appiah taken to root it out? Appiah is affable and liked by almost everybody but it takes some firmness to handle the national team.
Perhaps, former Ghana Football Association boss Ben Koufie hit the nail right on the head when he asked Kwasi Appiah to add some roughness in his dealings with the national team during a recent book launch saying, â€œA little bit of some roughness will help you, you are too gentle. A little bit of it to push things, to force the pace to ensure that you get what you wantâ€.
Appiah must earn the respect of all the players and needs to be the boss. And he can do this without unnecessary bringing more tension within the squad which already looks fragile.
Ghana is yet to replicate the performance that made us a joy to watch at the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa. Further cracks in the team will only lead to a total breakdown in team unity and that will be disastrous for us.
To sum up, the Black Stars appear to be on the cross roads but Kwasi Appiah has what it takes to stir the team from impending doom by instilling some much needed discipline before the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
Over to you Kwasi!!