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Sports Features of Monday, 29 December 2008

Source: Bernard Asubonteng

The Current GFA Lacks Vision and Competence, period!

I strongly believe as humans we all make mistakes sometimes. In other words, we’re all wrapped in an imperfect world; hence we’re not perfect. Indeed, we’re susceptible to elements of imperfections and other human foibles from cradle to grave. In the face of all these, however, many smart people strive for perfection; needless to say they learn a lot from their mistakes in such a way that whatever dysfunctional move(s) that is initiated is not repeated. It’s sad to say that the current Ghana Football Association (GFA) members never learn from their mistakes, including their incompetent choices. GFA sucks, especially when it comes to organizing the so-called friendly matches and the hiring of top-class coaches.

For time and space constraints, the focus of this discourse would be on the organizational aspects. Any careful and impartial observer can tell that the current crop of the GFA leadership lacks organizational acumen, vision, self-esteem, and competence, to say the least. For how can one rationally explains a decision of competent soccer body that sends its senior national team on a friendly soccer adventure in faraway Australia while preparing for a World Cup qualifying match a couple of weeks back then in African soil. Why Australia, and not any of the tough African teams? Suppose Ghana had to play the Australians by all means in a friendly at the time, why couldn’t it have been played in a midway way country—or a neutral venue? Could it be that they (Australian officials) bribed the GFA leadership that made the latter so adamant in honoring the so-called friendly match in faraway Sidney? By the way, the Australians got what they had wanted all along by whipping Ghana 1-0.

Prior to the Australia-immaterial-marathon-match, Ghana had played a friendly game with Morocco in France where our national team won by 2-0. Then for some reasons that can only be attributed to incompetence, GFA agreed to fly the team about 3 time zones to Saudi Arabia of all soccer teams for another friendly encounter. You can called the humiliation the Saudi national team exposed Ghana to as the “massacre of Riyadh.” The Saudis spanked Ghana with all our top stars 5-0, mainly because of GFA’s poor organizational choices and managerial incompetence. Why the GFA didn’t insist that the match be played in any of the European cities where almost all our players are based? To me, friendly matches live up to its potentials if and only if it is held in a neutral grounds away from partisan crowds. That way you can objectively assess your strengths and weakness from your home crowds. From the current GFA’s legendary dismal choices, it is hard to say if this soccer body truly understands the essence friendly matches.

In fact, the choices we make in our lives come with consequences. We have control over the choices make—however good or bad they may be—but the consequences of our choices are beyond the cure of our control. This does not mean that people can’t take risky choices. Indeed, sometimes, people take some risky choices and succeed. However, distinction ought to be drawn between dummy risk-taking and a strategic one. The present GFA keeps making puny choices, misusing the national team for their own self-serving interest. What puzzles many of us is that it looks as if the GFA is not accountable to no one. I really do not understand the organizational structure of Ghana’s soccer management per se. Does GFA have an oversight body that quality-checks or questions some of its decisions? Where does the GFA power emanate? Whom does GFA answer to? Just curious.

As of now, there are news reports that the GFA and their Nigerian counterparts are planning for another friendly soccer match involving the Black Stars and the Super Eagles some time in February 2009. The news further suggests that the encounter will take place in Nigeria. I can’t confirm the veracity of this upcoming friendly event, but the questions worth posing if these reports are true: why not Cameroun, Egypt, Angola…but once again Nigeria? How about Serbia, Poland, Russian, any of the tough teams from the Eastern European nations since we don’t play them that much? Whose idea is this impending friendly match between Ghana and Nigeria? Some of us wouldn’t be surprised, though, that the Nigerian FA might have thrown out the “irresistible” bait to their Ghanaian-stomach-directed counterparts. The Nigerian soccer officials, like the Saudis, are so bent on a “payback match” to Ghana that nowhere do they think they can realize their ambitions other than in their own backyard. Ghana as a talented football nation should not be afraid to play any team anywhere in the world, but this particular Ghana-Nigeria friendly exercise at this point is ill-advised.

No doubt Nigeria is one of the strongest teams around. But any smart (Ghanaian?) soccer planner or tactician may take the following facts into consideration: for the past year or two Ghana and Nigeria had had four soccer encounters; and, in all these events the Black Stars have won three and tied one. The Black Stars beat Nigeria 4-1 in a friendly match held in London in 2007; then in the African Cup of Nations in 2008 with ten men down Ghana whipped Nigeria 2-1 in Accra. Recently with Team-B on both sides, Ghana came from behind a 2-0 goal deficit in Accra and beat their Nigeria counterpart 3-2. On a return match in Calabar, Nigeria, the Ghanaian side went on to draw with the Eagles, thus eliminating the latter on superior goals difference. So the mind-boggling question now is what else does these two soccer rivals, especially Ghana is trying to achieve or settle?

If Ghana wants to play a strong African national team in friendly match as GFA may cite as its main premise for engaging Nigeria, wouldn’t Cameroun or Egypt also be an excellent choice at this juncture? After all Cameroun is currently number one on Africa soccer ranking chart. More important, the Samuel E’to people (Cameroun) spanked our butt in our own bedroom—Accra—during the 2008 Cup of Nations in the semi-finals. The more compelling choice for a friendly at this point should either be Cameroun or Egypt. Remember, Egypt is also the reigning African champions back-to-back. Why don’t we give priority to these countries?

As stated earlier, Nigeria is one of the continent’s strongest but common sense dictates that Ghana has had enough of our neighboring sister nation in recent times. It’s about time to engage in friendly matches with other sister African countries who are equally strong but Ghana hasn’t had the chance to play in a long, long time. Algeria, Angola, Cameroun, Egypt and what have you readily come to mind at this time. By the way, does this current GFA understand the concept of strategic planning? The present GFA should offer thanks to the highest heavens for having talented and committed players other than that the Black Stars would not have achieved or commanded the respect they have now in the soccer world because of GFA’s shallow managerial choices!

By Bernard Asubonteng, Atlanta, GA (Media communication writer) Email: