Sports Features of Monday, 4 March 2013
Source: Christopher Opoku
Honestly speaking, after all the news first centered around John Paintsil, then around the Ayew brothers last week, I kind of had the false hope that this week was going to be rather quiet on the local front.
But certain events that took place last week mean that we will probably have a few more rumblings, and this time, it concerns the technical bench.
Simply for expressing my views on the Ayews’ temporary withdrawal from the Black Stars, I have been tagged in certain quarters as being anti-establishment, in this case the Ghana Football Association.
I wonder what will happen after this article is fully read and fully digested. Well that is the occupational hazard in trying to be objective. But I digress. Let’s get down to brass tacks shall we?
Dreaded vote of confidence
I know you will be very surprised to read this, but sadly that is the case as of now. Those of you who follow football avidly will realize that when a coach is given public backing by his club or in some cases his national association; it is, more often than not, a prelude to eventual sacking.
It appears that Black Stars head coach Kwasi Appiah will be made the latest example of this scenario after Ghana’s 2014 World Cup qualifier against Sudan in a few weeks’ time.
You would remember that at a press conference soon after the 2013 African Nations Cup, Appiah apologised for his mistakes during the tournament and promised to work hard.
GFA President Kwesi Nyantakyi added at that same conference that Appiah would be kept on as Ghana coach.
Originally you would have thought that this was done and dusted, but recent events clearly show that all is not as it seems.
Initial reports of lack of confidence in Appiah
A few days after the Press conference, some digging revealed that more than half of the Executive Committee members at the GFA did not have confidence in Appiah’s ability to qualify the Black Stars for the 2014 World Cup and informal discussions had already began as to what alternatives the GFA could go for if Appiah was axed.
Indeed, the information that was coming out seemed to indicate that Appiah had been handed a stay of execution because of the timing of the Sudan match.
Meeting with new Sports Minister
The entire situation needed was a few drops of kerosene and a lit match to set things ablaze and that occurred when the GFA top hierarchy met the new Sports Minister, Hon. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah.
The sports minister is reported to have told them that Ghana’s President, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama had asked for the GFA to do all it can to qualify the Black Stars for the 2014 World Cup.
Indeed, the president had mentioned it in his state-of-the-nation address and so this was a reiteration of that message.
My sources tell me that this opened the door for the GFA top hierarchy to ask themselves whether Kwasi Appiah is the right man to take Ghana forward or not.
Executive Committee meeting
My well-placed sources reveal that at an Executive Committee meeting the day after the meeting with the sports minister (on Tuesday), a question was asked as to whether Appiah should be allowed to carry on as Ghana head coach and the dissenting voices outnumbered those who want him to stay. Then, curiously, a suggestion was made that Appiah be replaced by his assistant
Maxwell Konadu, since Appiah seemed to lean heavily on him during the AFCON tournament.
That suggestion was overwhelmingly voted down by the Executive Committee and a decision was taken to go for an expatriate coach after the Sudan match. So it would seem that Appiah’s days are numbered.
Appiah’s calm demeanor; a mask for emotions
I had the privilege of having a conversation with Kwasi Appiah on the Tuesday in question and clearly, he suspects that he may not have much time left but he has resolved to work until he is told otherwise.
He is at the moment busy preparing for the Sudan match and apparently he had included Andre and Jordan Ayew in the provisional squad for the match, but the temporary withdrawal from the Black Stars by the two brothers seems to have put a spanner in the works for him.
Since he insists that the decision to drop both players from Ghana’s AFCON squad was his and his alone, the latest development has seen him stand accused by some Executive Committee members of causing himself problems.
Appiah still has the calm demeanor he normally displays, but surely the demeanor must be masking the turmoil within.
It cannot be easy to work when you could be fired from your job at any time. It is like a Sword of Damocles hanging over your head.
Options already discussed; Appiah to return to Local Black Stars
My information is that after the Sudan match, Appiah will be dispatched on the three week attachment at Manchester City, when he will be told that upon his return, he will be re-assigned to the Local Black Stars, a job he had until he was appointed head coach of the team proper in April last year. During that time, a foreign coach would be hired to take over the Black Stars job.
Already, there is speculation that Milo Rajevac could be making a return to the job he left unceremoniously almost three years ago, whilst Marcel Desailly has already spoken publicly; subtly hinting that he could still be interested in the job.
One must not forget former Paris Saint Germain head coach Antoine Kombouare, who almost got the job before Kwasi Appiah was appointed.
My sources tell me that the GFA is yet to make a firm decision as to who takes the job but deliberations are still going on.
Should Appiah have been kept on?
I am among the few people who felt that Kwasi Appiah should be kept on because despite his mistakes, he has laid the grounds for a new team.
Introducing the likes of Mubarak Wakaso, Solomon Asante, Rabiu Mohammed and Christian Atsu into the first team picture at least means that the team can be built upon, and it would have made sense for Appiah to carry on, since he would have learnt a lot from his errors in South Africa, but sadly, the GFA would seem to have taken the decision that keeping him on is a risk that it can ill afford.
The blow will definitely be softened by his redeployment to the Local Black Stars, but Appiah will inwardly be bitterly disappointed that he will not be allowed to continue his work.
Unfortunately, he has become the fall guy for Ghana’s failings and indeed, the Ayew situation as well and as one of my sources told me recently, “It is not looking good for Kwasi Appiah.”
Well, that is the situation now and only time will tell whether Appiah’s eventual sacking will re-invigorate the Black Stars, or whether it will merely paper over the cracks. What is definite is that he has become the sacrificial lamb.