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Sports News of Friday, 12 July 2019

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Ghana’s AFCON exit, blame Kwesi Appiah

Ghana over the past decade or more have always been tipped among the favourites to win the coveted African Cup of Nations (AFCON) trophy.

Indeed, after a stellar performance at the World Cup in 2006 in Germany, the Black Stars emerged among the giants of Africa and world football. They didn’t just qualify from their group as debutants but they also beat Czech Republic who were then ranked third best football nation in the world.

Unfortunately for Ghana they would be eliminated by Brazil who went on to win the trophy for the fifth time.

In 2008 when Ghana host the AFCON, they were again considered among the favourites until they shockingly lost to an Alain N’kong inspired 1-0 defeat to help Cameroun eliminate the Black Stars in the semifinal.

Again before Ghana would shock the world at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, they managed to carve a niche for themselves as a heavyweight in the continental football when they went all the way to the final.

Sadly, they lost to Egypt who emerged the eventual winner and to grab their seventh trophy in the tournament. That would also be the ninth time Ghana would play at the final.

At the Mundial the Black Stars became the touch bearers of Africa until their painful lost to Uruguay in the quarter finals. Incidentally, that competition would catapult Luis Suarez to fame and among many Ghanaians due to his role in denying a goal bound header from Dominic Adiyiah.

Several years down the line, I am not really certain if all Ghanaians have overcome the pain and forgiven him for his infamous so-called hand of God. Asamoah Gyan’s missed penalty resulting from that hand ball broke not just hearts of Ghanaians but also of Africa and many others who were rooting for the Black Stars.

It is worthy of notice that all these time Ghana was coached by foreigners.

Ghana’s obsession for Serbian coaches were taken to a different level as they engaged the services of Coach Ratomir Dujkovic for the 2006 World Cup, followed Milovan Rajevac who led the Black Stars to the 2010 World Cup and Goran Stevanovic who also exited after 2012.

Fed up by the consistent milking of the country by foreign coaches without producing any results, Ghanaians began agitating for the need to engage a home grown tactician. Thankfully, that mantle fell on Coach Mr. Kwesi Appiah who had deputized for the last two Serbian trainers.

His entry was heralded with so much hope and confidence among many Ghanaians who threw their support behind the 59-year-old until what I perceived as his technical bankruptcy, denied the Black Stars the opportunity to play in the final of the AFCON 2012.

I had high hopes that our AFCON title drought was going to end but Coach Appiah still lost to a 10-man Burkina Faso side in the semifinals. Burkina went to the final and lost to a very deficient Nigerian side.

Upon his return I thought Coach Appiah would have been showed the exit but he was tasked to lead Ghana to the World Cup in Brazil. Over there, he didn’t just fail in his core duty as a coach but also showed his lack of control over the playing body.

In the opening game he rested his best players with an excuse of unleashing them on the USA in the second half. Shocking as it may seem we lost to USA who had never beaten Ghana in any competitive match.

Then Ghana drew with Germany in a game that was considered to be our best game of the tournament and lost to a very weak Portuguese side. It was reported that there was gross indiscipline in camp as players boycotted training before the match and even threatened not play if their winning bonuses and appearance fees were not paid.

In the face of that disastrous showing in Brazil, Appiah still failed to resign upon his return until he was sacked by then GFA president, Kwasi Nyantakyi.

Avram Grant managed to steer Ghana to the final of the 2015 AFCON when he took over but sadly lost on penalties to Ivory Coast. It was this same team that had performed poorly at the World Cup in 2014 under Coach Appiah.

For them to have made it to the final of the 2015 AFCON just a year later summed up how Coach Appiah was technically inept.

Surprisingly Coach Appiah was reappointed when Mr. Avram Grant exited in 2017. While my love for the team has never waned, I keep telling all who care to listen that we have a crop of good players but and a bad coach.

Appiah indeed proved me right when he drew with Benin and Cameroon in his first two games before beating Guinea Bissau to top his group in the ongoing AFCON in Egypt 2019.

At the 1/16th stage we had victory wrapped till our coach who was on the touchline as a spectator allowed just one Tunisian substitution to snatch victory from us.

We lost eventually on penalties. Before the tournament Coach Appiah allowed needless captaincy issues to disrupt the focus of the team. His most experienced striker threatened to retire from the team till the President of Ghana intervened.

Whiles most Ghanaians believe that Ghana should stop looking within for a replacement for Coach Appiah, Coach David Duncan can competently hold the fore if not permanently until a substantive one is appointed.

As for Mr. Appiah he should never be made to coach the national team again as coach.