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Sports Features of Monday, 15 July 2013

Source: kissi, e.k.

The Fall of the Black Meteors

By E.K. Kissi

Do Ghanaian football fans remember Black Meteors –U23 National Football team anymore?

In the past when the Black Stars won trophies, we had senior team composed of our best talents who have proven themselves in the local league. Those who played in U-17, U-20 will then progress into the Black Meteors, the U-23 National team before consideration into the Black Stars. The Black Matoers were a recognized brand in the Ghanaian football fraternity in the 80s and the early 90s. The brand seems to have experienced a meteoric fall.

When the Black Meteors were adored, the Black Stars were made up of the big boys-mature, tall and bulky men in the 80s like George Alhassan, Emmanuel

Quarshie, Seth Ampadu, Joseph Car and in the 90s by the likes of Anthony Yeboah, Emmanuel Armah, Anthony Baffo, Sam Johnson and Edward Ansah.

In the 80s, emerging young players like George Arthur and Opuku Sampane played for the Black Meteors to grow and mature. In the 90s, Sammy Kuffour, Augustine Arhinful and Kwame Ayew, all played at the Black Meteors level for the Olympic team before making the transition to the Black Stars.

We have completely changed that system. We have adopted a short cut and expedient avenues into the Black Stars. Currently, we select players from lower tier Ghana Premier league teams like Tema Youth and Liberty Professionals who are not the best in the local league, let them play in youth tournaments for 3-weeks and we say, boom play for the Black Stars at the expense of the best players in the local league who are bigger, taller and mature to move right into the Black Stars.

These U-20 players, if we believe that they are good, should be kept and promoted into the U-23 team, the Black Matoers, and let’s watch them grow and qualify for the next Olympic games. We won 2009 U-20 World Cup, but failed to qualify for 2012 London Olympics. Is there a reason the 2009 team couldn’t be promoted into the Black Meteors?

Let’s leave the Black Stars for the big boys who are fully mature, tall and bulky like Rashid Abdul, Emmanuel Osei Banahene, Awal Mohammed, Isaac Vorsah and Yahaya Mohammed. Do Black Stars players always need to look malnourished and short all the time? Do we have guys with size and height who can play football like we had in Kwasi Owusu and Junior Agogo?

I say we should not promote small sized average players from lower tier teams in the local league into the Black Stars after we lower the bar for them to play in 3-weeks Youth Tournaments. Let’s not allow the Black Matoers brand to die; send the best of the U-20 players into the U-23 team and let’s see if they are up to the task at that age level before we start hyping them for the senior national team, the Black Stars.

We have seen this movie before, and it did not work well for the players involved. In the early 1990s, we rushed Nii Odartey Lamptey and Isaac Asare into the 1992 Black Stars squad. The expectations on them were high. These players did not play long before they retired from football. We did the same thing to Dominic Adiyiah and Samuel Inkoom.

We have found that these players when rushed from U-20 teams and by-passed U-23 team into the Black Stars do not grow physically anymore and are not cut for the Black Stars.

The best destination for the U-20 team players is the national U-23 team, the Black Meteors of Ghana. We should focus on encouraging our current best and mature players in the local league like Yahaya Mohammed as the ready material for the Black Stars.

Note:

· This is a thought provoking article and requires constructive comments and dialogue. The views expressed are the observations of the writer and those who cannot engage in constructive dialogue, but armed with insults should avoid commenting on the article.

· Any reproduction and reprinting of this article without permission of the writer is a cause for judicial action.

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