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Soccer News of Tuesday, 30 January 2001

Source: Graphic Sports

Indiscipline let us down - Akonnor

AMID the post-mortem analysis, which has started in a bid to find out why Ghana suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Lone Star of Liberia, the captain of the Black Stars has said that the problem of the Stars would persist if the players do not change their attitude and adopt a higher level of self-discipline.

According to skipper C. K. Akonnor, unless the players adopt a more professional attitude towards all national assignments, just as they do towards their foreign club assignments, as well as become more committed towards the nation's dream of going to the World Cup, there is very little chance that Ghana would ever make it.

In a post-match interview with Graphic Sports, Akonnor did not mince words criticising the attitude of some of the players which he said was ?the main contributory factor towards our defeat last Sunday?.

Rather than blame anybody else for the defeat, the Stars' skipper said the team was responsible because the players showed lack of commitment which eventually gave the Liberians an edge over them.

?It is not enough to say that we are committed to qualify for the World Cup and help restore Ghana's image on the international scene. We should let our words reflect in our deeds and actions. Unfortunately, individually and collectively, we are yet to prove that we are indeed ready and committed to qualify for the World Cup."

He also said even though the loss was painful, it was wrong to single out players and apportion blame as that could also affect the psyche of the team for the other matches ahead.

?It is of no use to single out individual players even though one or two people had very bad days. Lack of tactical discipline as well as incidents before the match greatly contributed to our defeat and I hope that it is a lesson well learnt and which would not be repeated in the subsequent assignments," he said.

Urged to explain exactly what happened before the match, Akonnor would not give details but indicated that it is wrong for players to think that they can report to camp and training at any time any how, when there is a fixed schedule.

"In addition, as professionals we all know what can be done and what should not in a countdown to a crucial match. Unfortunately, some decided not to obey this professional rule, and the entire team had to pay the price for it," he revealed.

Reacting to suggestions that he has no control over the team, both on and off the pitch, the lanky midfielder said his duty to the team was not with the private lives of the players but what affects the team, especially on the field of play.

"Almost everyone in the team is a professional and an adult who knows what is good and what is bad. I'm not the one to tell them what to do. My prime concern, as a captain, is just to make sure things are done right when we are in camp and on the field of play," he replied in an agitated mood.

While accepting the fact that there is no real inspirer and playmaker in the team at the moment as it happened in the days of Abedi Pele, C.K was also quick to add that it is not always that a team gets inspirers in the sense that people are talking of.

"No one but ourselves would have to provide the needed inspiration for one another, even though getting a single hero sometimes pays off, but that is no excuse for us to play as badly as we did last Sunday," he stressed.

He said so far as he's concerned, he has played his role as a captain quite well and he had no plans to quit the national team just because things have not gone on well for the Stars.

Even though he expressed his personal and the team's disappointment for not winning last Sunday, the Wolfsburg midfielder was still optimistic that the Stars have a chance of going to the 2002 World Cup.

"If we had won last Sunday's match, our job would have been a bit more easier, but as it is now, we have a tall and arduous task ahead, but if it is possible for Liberia to beat us in Accra, then it is equally possible we could also win in Monrovia. But that, of course, will depend on the psyche of the team, our commitment and our focus," he emphasised.

His main problem was how to go Sudan and win, considering the unfriendly weather there. "The match against Liberia has been lost, we now have to focus on Sudan and make sure we win in Omdurman to get back into contention, knowing how difficult it is to win in those areas, "he added.