You are here: HomeSports2003 02 20Article 33099

Soccer News of Thursday, 20 February 2003

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

OPINION: Another Fine Mess

Bukhard Ziese is close to becoming Black Stars coach again but Ghana Football Association has done its image no good with their handling of the issue.

The present Ghana Football Association administration has soiled itself fairly well in public over the past three years that they have been in office, but nothing so far compares to their handling of the selection of a substantive coach for the senior national team the Black Stars.

From the infamous Adidas jersey issue, the Samuel Osei Kuffour sacking in Mali and the association's inability to find sponsorship for the local league, the FA has often conveyed an image of a body whose decisions are mostly flawed.

But the latest coaching issue has left the FA's public image battered and drawn a wedge between the key players in the body as officials haggle over who is responsible for the mess.

The mess is simple but with serious implications for Ghana Football. German Bukhard Ziese entered a contest with two other coaches for the Black Stars job and impressed so much that the interview panel had no option but to recommend him for the job on a substantive basis.

It thrilled FA Chairman Ben Koufie who had taken so much flak for good reasons for his comments leading up to the interview. Koufie said a certain Portuguese, Manuel Gomes, was the favourite to get the job because official kit sponsors L-Sporto backed him. L-Sporto of course have an agreement with the FA by which they would have to foot 40% of any expatriate coaches' salary for six months subject to renewal, based on the performance of the coach.

Koufie reasoned to close aides that the choice of the interview panel would shame his critics who feared the interview would do no justice because Gomes was the FA's preference.

But L-Sporto just refused to buckle under. At the Wangara Hotel where the screening took place, L-Sporto's chief in charge of Africa and South America, Chris Anderson, was told in plain language by the FA boss that his man (Gomes) was not up to it. He spoke no English and he came across to the panel as a man without the clout to turn Ghana's Black Stars into world-beaters.

As a man born in Trinidad and Tobago and brought up in the United States of America, Anderson talks good so he convinced the FA he could fix Ghana on a good coach in three weeks.

Koufie agreed and put that to a vote at his management board meeting later. The board went the L-Sporto way and opted to reject the original choice of Bukhard. Ben Koufie was shocked but this is a democracy so the majority won which meant effectively that Bukhard was not going to be given the job.

Largely due to what he did in 1991 when he qualified Ghana for the 1992 nations cup after an eight years absence, Bukhard is loved by many here. On discussion boards in web pages, and on radio discussion platforms, you are always likely to find that 90% of contributors prefer him.

So the FA was insulted over the weekend. Ben Koufie was asked to step down and his ability to do the job alongside the other management members was questioned in disparaging terms.

What made the decision to reject the interview panel's choice ridiculous was the fact that the same management board dominated the panel.

Now Koufie has stamped his authority in an attempt to come clean with the public on the issue. He called a meeting of management board members two days ago and pointed out to them in clear language what the latest decision meant for their credibility.

In the end they settled on Bukhard again and would forward his name to the Ministry of Youth and Sports for endorsement of the German.

Should that happen, it would mark an end to a long running saga that has ruined the EMs image in the last few weeks and left key officials playing the blame game on who is responsible for the poor handling of the issue.

Ben Koufie for instance was furious that none of his colleagues on the management board of the FA explained why Bukhard was rejected over the weekend while he was away in Nigeria striking out the details of the 2010 world cup co-hosting bid. FA Executive Council chairman Y.A Ibrahim, whose body was said to have given the approval for Bukhard's rejection on the other hand, said the FA's general secretary, Kofi Nsia, had handled the issue unprofessionally.

If Bukhard is finally endorsed, it would be his second spell here and one that he would gladly welcome. The German, considers his time in 1991 was the first half, "I want to play the second half of my time with Ghana."

And he is promising a great time for Ghana football. "I know I have the backing of the people and I am convinced that together we can make the Black Stars great. I am a German and I want to take Ghana to the 2006 world Cup in my home country".

He is close now but, as this FA has shown, anything can happen.