Sports Features of Tuesday, 5 March 2013
Source: Nana Frimpong
Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi is losing his romance with Ghanaians and should work at restoring it instead of resorting to defensive tactics at press conferences
For some - this writer included - the manner in which Black Stars' coach Kwesi Appiah's post-Afcon meet-the-press session was conducted a few weeks ago proved somewhat disappointing. Very disappointing, in fact.
The picture that had been imagined before the much-anticipated event did bear uncanny semblances to a typical doomsday scenario: Kwesi Appiah - a man who had wittingly or otherwise broken the hearts of an entire nation with some poor calls and thus had been pronounced guilty by a significant portion of the public already - was set to face the wrath of an unsympathetic pack of ravenous media wolves, ultimately culminating in Appiah's formal execution in the public square.
Well, perhaps not exactly doomsday, but certainly a scenario threatening enough, and one that would make any journalist froth at the lips. Only that it never panned out that way, for the FA obviously had its own plans. For one, it wasn't entirely inexplicable that Ibrahim Sannie Daara -the FA's spokesperson, journalist and communications expert - had been seated in a strategically central position, flanked on either side by a Kwesi, Appiah the 'condemned' and GFA boss Nyantakyi, the would-be 'executioner', as it were.
That Appiah was in white apparel - white being a colour signifying victory/vindication of some sort in Ghanaian society - couldn't be ignored either. The FA was clearly unwilling to throw Appiah to the dogs; that much was discernible from the start. In the course of the affair, that resolve was made even more apparent. Not a few piercing questions were deflected by Nyantakyi and Daara, ensuring Appiah was spared the full impact of those; the ones that smacked somewhat of sarcasm were swatted aside with consummate ease.
The FA president stood out for special mention in that regard, throwing himself in the firing line in his namesake's defence more than once.
And thus, one journalist, perhaps realising just how eagerly Nyantakyi seemed to claim scraps not meant for him, decided to hurl his way an actual president-of-the-FA-sized chunk of steak. What ensued was perhaps unlike any that has ever occurred in his reign as head of the FA. Nyantakyi snapped. The question - apparently one that suggested Nyantakyi had monopolised the FA and run it as a fiefdom where only his opinions mattered - caught the man off-guard, causing even him - for so long the composed and unruffled Mr. Nice Guy, the very essence of cool - to switch the ice that seems to course in his veins with fire. Red-hot fire. The 44-year-old banker-cum-lawyer-cum-administrator then launched into a considerably lengthy and semi-emotional lecture, attempting to define his powers as GFA president in relation to his capacity on the executive committee and how the former status endows him with no greater powers than are possessed by the others he shares seats of the ExCo with, practically lowering his FA presidency to a merely ceremonial office with a thorough albeit unplanned lesson in self-deprecation that left many murmuring in the hall by the time the event ended.
That a man who was hailed as Ghanaian football's messiah after leading the Black Stars to its greatest feat, namely qualification to the World Cup in 2006 (successfully producing an encore four years later) barely a year after his unheralded ascent to the hot-seat, has suddenly seemingly fallen out of love with the media and the very fans that once fawned over his success to the point that he is virtually required to vindicate himself on a platform so uncomfortable is quite incredible to comprehend. Nyantakyi's reign has been accused of being among other things, corrupt, autocratic, and largely inattentive to falling standards of domestic football. What's worse - there are hard facts to support most of those claims, too, as his most avowed critics would have us believe.
It doesn't help, either, that Nyantakyi's eight years in office is the lengthiest of all the 23 who've ever headed the Ghanaian FA - he has survived three Ghanaian heads-of-state, if that means anything - or that he is the only GFA chairman to have been democratically re-elected.
Still, Nyantakyi has his obvious merits that would require the most extensive of smear campaigns to erase.
Before his advent, the Black Stars hadn't managed a Nations Cup semi-final place in four editions; under him, the country has 'celebrated' four such occasions. Nyantakyi has overseen what is generally considered the most glamorous era for the Ghanaian national team, transforming it from a mere bunch of players into a proper brand that has attracted many a multi-million sponsorship deal.
The two successful World Cup outings have placed Ghana firmly on the international footballing map, ensuring that Nyantakyi's glowing repute has transcended national borders, thus earning him responsibilities of prominence with Wafu, Caf, and even Fifa, which is, in turn, further evidence that his ambition and ideas are very fresh still. Throw in, too, if you want, the 2009 World Youth Championship triumph, and he'd be sure to lap it all up, and lick his fingers afterwards.
Thus, it appears Nyantakyi has more than enough ammunition in his arsenal to ward off most of the shots fired his way. He needn't wait till he is cornered as he was at the said encounter with the media before embarking on such shocking, brow-raising rants to attempt clearing his credibility.
Rather than resort to defensive tactics, it would serve his reputation and credibility infinitely better to go on the offensive, armed with the kind of charm on which many a love story thrives.