Sports Features of Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Source: Christopher Opoku
Not too long ago, I penned an article in which I was advocating for AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari to apologise to Black Stars head coach Kwasi Appiah for disrespecting him back in June.
As a reminder for those who may not know, Muntari lashed out at Appiah after he was substituted during Ghana’s 2-0 win over Lesotho in a 2014 World Cup qualifier in Maseru.
Credible reports have it that Muntari followed up with a verbal attack on Appiah in the dressing room after the match ended in the presence of the other players.
Clearly Appiah felt insulted and humiliated, whilst Muntari has since maintained that he has nothing to apologise for on several platforms.
The interesting thing is that whilst many distinguished personalities actually apologised on Muntari’s behalf, Appiah wanted to hear from the midfielder himself. That never happened.
Instead, Muntari gave interviews to some media houses, talking about how he was going to help the Black Stars get past Zambia in the crucial World Cup qualifier.
The personal apology never came. Soon, with the Zambia game drawing nearer and nearer, the word was that Muntari had to issue a public apology to Appiah, or risk being dropped from the squad for the all-important Zambia encounter.
Already, the midfielder had been dropped from Ghana’s squad for the 2-2 friendly draw with Turkey, which was probably a sign of things to come.
As mentioned earlier, his parents spoke to him and so did long time mentor, Felix Ansong, but Muntari still refused to apologise.
With the Ayews and Kevin Prince Boateng expected to write letters to officially confirm their return to national duty, many expected Muntari to also write a letter apologizing for his actions. Muntari’s letter arrived on Thursday and these were the contents.
LETTER OF APOLOGY
I write this letter to render my sincere apologies to the Management, Technical Team and the entire players of the Black Stars for my after the Lesotho/Ghana match which was played in Maseru on Sunday, 17th June 2013.
I wish to state that this unfortunate incident will not happen again.
What you have just read is the unedited version of the letter sent by Muntari which was published on the Ghana Football Association website, ghanafa.org.
I remember calling Appiah on Thursday morning and asking him whether he had been contacted personally by Muntari. The Black Stars head coach replied in the negative. This was a few hours before the letter arrived.
What I can surmise from all this is that, after what had happened, Muntari was perhaps afraid of contacting Appiah directly and so was trying to apologise through many people, including his parents.
Indeed, I am reliably informed that Muntari’s mother, Hajia Kande (remember her infamous quote, “No Muntari, no Black Stars”) actually saw one of the top GFA officials and asked him to accompany her to Kwasi Appiah’s house to apologise on her son’s behalf.
Unfortunately, the GFA official couldn’t take her there because he doesn’t know where Appiah’s house is.
With everybody convinced that with the arrival of the letter, Muntari was definitely going to be part of the squad for the Zambia squad, discussions had already started on the effect Muntari’s presence will have on the Black Stars come September 6.
I have to admit that I belonged to that school of thought. Then suddenly, via footy-ghana.com, the story breaks that Muntari is dropped from the squad.
Let me state here and now that on a personal level, I would have loved to see Muntari as part of the squad for the Zambia game, because he has been a goal scoring threat from midfield for Ghana for many years.
A record of 19 goals in 78 matches for the Black Stars is not to be sniffed at, and at a time when the team seems over reliant on Asamoah Gyan for goals, Muntari would be a key player in the Black Stars midfield especially when the going gets tough.
However, even though in the letter he apologised to the management, technical team and players of the Black Stars, it was clear that the experienced star was only writing the apology because he wanted to play in the Zambia game.
This is because he still hasn’t directly contacted Appiah at the time of writing this piece to personally apologise.
Obviously some might slam Appiah for being petty because to all intents and purposes, if he has written a letter of apology, then he should be allowed back into the team.
I honestly think that Muntari should have been selected, but with what he did in Lesotho, I have to understand Appiah’s thinking.
For starters, since Muntari hasn’t contacted him directly, he would have no idea of whether Muntari would do what he did again because unfortunately, the former Portsmouth midfielder has previous in doing such things.
If you remember, he was dropped by Milovan Rajevac from the 2010 African Nations Cup squad for being tactically indisciplined. Rajevac brought him back and handed him the captain’s armband for a friendly against Bosnia and Muntari scored in Ghana’s 1-2 loss.
Muntari later won the UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan before the 2010 World Cup and went to the World Cup in South Africa with the Black Stars.
He soon proved a disruptive influence in camp, especially when Rajevac did not use him for the 1-0 win over Serbia. In the next game against Australia, he refused to warm up when asked to prepare to go on as a substitute.
Even though he eventually came on as a substitute against Germany, things had gotten so bad that Rajevac literally ordered him to leave the team’s camp.
It took the intervention of the GFA top brass at the time, together with then team captain Stephen Appiah to get Rajevac to relent. Muntari returned to score against Uruguay.
We also remember his issues back in 2004 where he broke camp rules and was left out of Ghana’s 2004 Olympics squad, plus his declaration that he wouldn’t play for the national team again.
He backed down and returned in time to help Ghana qualify for the 2006 World Cup.
So whilst Sulley Muntari is a great talent, he is a bit of a maverick and in this latest episode, he probably went too far.
Let us not forget that Kwasi Appiah was the assistant coach when Muntari was throwing tantrums during the 2010 World Cup and so he would have seen at firsthand what he can be like.
In the latest episode, Muntari should have bitten the bullet and approached Appiah to apologise after what he did.
I am reliably informed that his posture that he did nothing wrong infuriated Appiah and whilst one can argue the merits of man-management, Muntari has himself to blame for not being called up for the Zambia game.
For me, the only way back for him is to personally make contact with Appiah and apologise to him so that he can come back into the reckoning for the final qualifying round, should Ghana get there.
Otherwise, this could prove to be one indiscretion too many and it has the disturbing potential of ending the international career of one of Ghana’s best talents.
So, as the sages would say, Sulley Muntari, the ball is in your court.