Soccer News of Monday, 14 January 2013
By A A Yayra
With less than a week into Africa’s greatest soccer fiesta, AFCON 2013 to be held in South Africa, Ghana’s illustrious football legend, Mohamed Polo has made a disquieting revelation as to how he gave his all to the nation without corresponding recompense.
In an exclusive chat on “Ghana for 5th trophy” with P.J. Moses of Asempa sports last Thursday night, the Dribbling Magician, as Mohamed Polo was then known; in an emotional tone lamented “I was used, oh yes, I was used… for example; for two solid years I had to continually play for the nation with a chronic injury.” According to the man who was variously accorded the accolade Professor, Wizard dribbler and Polo-to-Polo; “I served my nation for twenty-one years, having begun playing for the national team in 1972, and at some points I was compelled to appear for Ghana even with painful injuries.” Mohamed Polo told a dumbfounded P.J Moses.
Polo, who was adjudged the best player in Ghana in 1973 and 1974 said in one such instance whiles he was on a terrible injury, Lt. Col. Simpe Asante, the then special assistant to the Minister in charge of Sports, which was held by the then head of state, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, “forcibly dragged me to the Black Stars camp to go play for the nation”
“When I protested, he told me even if I can’t play at all; I have to announce my presence at the camp and that alone can make a difference. He seized my clothes and took everything from me and drag me to camp at a time that I was badly injured” Polo in a grieved mood disclosed.
According to the dribbling magician, “it is just sad and painful that after dutifully giving my best as a footballer to the nation, even at the peril of my life, my country decided to treat me likes this.”
“I have made a lot of sacrifices for this nation and I think is hard time those in authority, especially the Ministry of Sports, the National Sports Council and the Ghana Football Association come to terms with the immense contributions that some of us have made in the past. If we had decided not to play for Ghana, I don’t think football in Ghana would have reached where it is now…they may not believe it, but that is the fact”
He sorrowfully said “it appears it is not worth dying for the nation… at the moment, there is nothing I can do because it appears my nation has rejected me, having dutifully played my part as a national player…But I have decided to give everything to God to see what he can do for me for the rest of my life…if after serving my nation, this is how my nation will compensate me, then let’s live it to God”
He stated that the way the country had treated its past national footballers and sportsmen and women leave much to be desired. “Many of our colleagues are living under terrible conditions and as a nation we have a responsibility to take care of such people”
Commenting on the saddest side in his football career, Polo-to-Polo noted that although Ghana had the best of attackers; albeit left wingers, for the 1984 African cup of Nations in Bouake, Ivory Coast the country fizzled out of the competition without winning a single group match.
The soccer Professor blamed this on the power struggle between football administrators, which led to the replacement of Osman Duodu with E K Afrani as coach of the national soccer team at the last hour.
The 1984 AFCON, which Ghana paraded all the best players in it stalk, but could not win a single group match, according Polo was a disaster, adding that “it is not surprising that it has earned the moniker ‘Bouake debacle’ in Ghanaian football folklore.
The Ghanaian football legend disclosed that of all the matches he featured in for the Black Starts, the memorable once that still rings a bell is his ears were Ghana versus Nigeria, Tunisia and Uganda.