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Sports Features of Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Source: kwese.espn.com

Konadu, GFA the big winners in WAFU Cup triumph

There would be no-over-the-top celebration of a sub-regional triumph, but quietly Maxwell Konadu and his Black Stars B team would be deeply satisfied with the one-month period which has eased the disdain for coach and his players.

The West African Football Union Championship started without much attention and ended with a sense of satisfaction, not just for the Ghana team but organisers as well.

It was back-to-back WAFU titles for Maxwell Konadu, after he won the same title in 2013, but this one would have felt special.

The former Kumasi Asante Kotoko boss has two Ghana league titles with the Porcupine Warriors and guided the Black Stars B to the final of the Championship of Africa Nations in 2014, but has constantly berated for not being good enough.

The 'Konadu is not good enough' chorus has been particularly loud lately.

After his side's 1-0 win over Gambia in the WAFU competition via a controversial late penalty, there were major questions over his selections, especially the decision to leave out Hearts of Oak star Winful Cobinnah.

Then, with qualification sealed and top spot guaranteed, Konadu endured even more criticisms when Nigeria beat Ghana 2-0 in the final group game.

For those convinced that Konadu isn't just good enough, that Nigeria defeat and the fact that Ghana missed out on the Championship of Africa Nations were even more compelling evidence.

Konadu, in many ways, has had the last laugh.

"I am just happy that we have managed to use this competition to remind people that the local team is not that bad. That CHAN failure hit me badly but this is a good comeback from it," Konadu told KweséESPN.

It represents significant comeback for the players too. That CHAN failure plus the consistent failure to thrive in pan-African club competitions suggested a group of players who just could not cut it at certain level.

Now, when Kwesi Appiah considers his options for the World Cup qualifier against Uganda in October, there would be many home based players who would have forced their way into his thinking.

Vincent Atinga looked solid at centre-back even if he was a bit rigid in his positioning. The goalkeeper, Joseph Addo, looked good too and Thomas proved his versatility by filling in flawlessly at left-back.



Then there was Cobinnah, who once again provided evidence that he has creativity to burn. If only he could do it on a more consistent basis.

The biggest winners from the competition were the organisers and the host federation, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) though.

There were those convinced the event, which necessitated a one-month break in the Ghana Premier League, was an unwelcome distraction.

In the end, the organization, social media presence, quality of production and the ability to provide an atmosphere in stadiums by any means necessary could provide a blueprint for the future.

For a long time, West Africa had watched on as COSAFA reigned as the most glamorous sub-regional event on the continent.

Ghana 2017 suggest it has serious competition from West Africa now.