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Sports Features of Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Source: Nii Ayitey Tetteh

Why Adam Kwarasey must take a chill pill

By Nii Ayitey Tetteh

Ronaldinho stood behind the ball, made a mental calculation of how best to execute the free kick. Brazil were 1-0 up against Ghana’s Black Stars; it was 89 minutes on the clock and if he scored, that would have effectively killed a game that was friendly in name only. One, two, three, Ronnie stepped up and curled the ball around the wall, to the top right corner. For a second, time stood still, the crowd, expected the ball to end up at the back of the net, but with arms outstretched, Ghana’s goalie Adam Kwarasey, fisted the ball out for a corner. Ronaldinho could only shake his head in disbelief; it was the second free kick Kwarasey had stopped, which on any day, would have been a certain goal.
Adam Kwarasey, then making only his second appearance for the Black Stars had pulled impressive saves all night, including a point blank save to keep out Alexandre Pato’s header. Naturally, rave reviews and adulation followed and Monday September 5, 2011 marked the start of a love affair. That love, at first sight, ensured the memory of an older love, Richard Kingson, faded rather quickly. The new marriage was consummated that night. Ghana and Kwarasey were expected to live happily ever after. Four odd years down the line, the marriage has been anything but happy. Relations broke at the 2014 World Cup where Kwarasey felt he was given a raw deal. Kwarasey attacked the goalkeepers’ trainer Nasamu Yakubu for his predicament and subsequently asked to be excused. Ghanaian officials have since made several attempts to resolve the impasse but Kwarasey has been adamant. Is Kwarasey justified in his stance or should he be accepting the olive branch?

Bitter pill
Born in Oslo, Norway, to a Ghanaian father and Norwegian mother, Adambathia Larsen Kwarasey had always nursed an ambition to feature for the Black Stars. An appearance as a junior Norway international couldn’t deter Kwarasey and when FIFA approved his switch in June 2011, it opened a big door for him to make his full Ghanaian international debut versus Swaziland on September 2, 2011. However it was his performance three days later at Craven Cottage, Fulham, against Brazil that crystallized his acceptance. It was the perfect script; young, agile goalie replacing a floundering, ageing goalie. He slotted in like a glove (yes, pun intended) but perhaps, on hindsight, he was thrown into the deep too early. With the endorsement and confidence of Ghanaians, Kwarasey made his big tournament debut at the 2012 AFCON hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. While Kwarasey had a decent outing, his performance was not as solid as would have been expected; having set a high standard for himself, but then again, the Black Stars who ended up 4th in the tournament weren’t entirely impressive either.
The coach then, Goran "Plavi" Stevanovi? was fired and that probably was the beginning of Kwarasey’s woes. Gone was not only Stevanovi?, but gone was the confidence of a manager. Kwesi Appiah who replaced the Serbian, made Fatau Dauda his new number one. Fatau rightfully distinguished himself at the 2013 AFCON in South Africa but his form dipped post tourney from inactivity and Kwarasey’s reinstatement as substantive number one was a matter of course. It was thus no surprise when Kwarasey started in goal for Ghana’s opening game versus the USA at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Ghana lost 2-1 and Strangely Kwarasey was dropped for the second game versus Germany. It was a strange call as Kwarasey couldn’t have been at fault for the goals conceded. Kwarasey reportedly accused the handlers of dropping him because a few of his mates had complained about his inability to communicate in the local language. Assuming it was a wild allegation, the fact the Kwarasey actually re-echoed it, spoke volumes of a man deeply scarred. That pain was evident in his body language when he gave interviews, you could see a man hurt and alienated. It seemed for him then that he had been given one big bitter pill to swallow; a pill that only made him feel worse.

Chill pill
After the World Cup, Kwarasey continued to pour his feelings and quite strongly too; his hurt was palpable. He accused the goalkeepers’ trainer of using outmoded methods and not being on top of his job. “He has us diving all day” Kwarasey cried out. His effusions were understandable and won him a lot of public sympathy amid calls for reconciliation and resolution. Reconciliation wasn’t reached and Kwarasey not only sat out the 2015 AFCON qualifiers, but also missed the tournament held in Equatorial Guinea where Ghana won silver. New coach Avram Grant has resorted to dialogue by meeting up with Kwarasey in the USA where Kwarasey now features for Portland Timbers. While signs pointed to a final resolution of the matter, comments after the meeting haven’t inspired confidence. “It went OK; it wasn’t anything special,” “We just had a short chat, and that was it.” Kwarasey told the media.
While nobody can question Kwarasey’s hurt, it is also poignant to note that public sympathy may be waning. It is clear he could have been treated better, but Kwarasey should also know that, he needs Ghana as much as Ghana needs him. He definitely has ambitions of playing top flight football and playing for Ghana would boost his profile, while Ghana, now experiencing goalkeeping crises, could also use an active and in-form Kwarasey. A win win! It thus behooves on both parties and in this case, Kwarasey to be amenable to mediation for sanity to prevail. In every professional environment, there are different forms of dissonance and players have since Adam (that pun again) have had problems with technical men and until those technical men are relieved of their jobs, you have to stay professional, take a chill pill and do your job honourably. Mr. Adam Kwarasey, here is your glass of water.
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(Culled from the 90 Minutes)