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Sports News of Friday, 4 April 2014


World Cup 2014: Why leave the ladies at home?

Forget fufu and nkrankra or hefty bonuses/appearance fees; nothing quite inspires a male [football star] as his woman by his side.

The time-honored reasoning in that piece of logic seems to appeal to some in the build-up to this year's Fifa World Cup. Apparently Roy Hodgson and Stephen Keshi, coaches of England and Nigeria respectively, are inclined to permitting the members of the national teams they manage to bring their spouses along for the summer's trip to Brazil.

The point, then, is easily driven home, quite literally, for you probably wonder as I do: what about Ghana?

There has been such talk in recent days, actually, with some for and others against the idea that Ghana trainer Kwesi Appiah should allow the players comprising his yet-to-be-selected squad for the 2014 World Cup to take their partners along.

Sometime last week, the national team's psychologist, Prof. Joseph Mintah, reportedly requested that the players be encouraged to take their wives to the Mundial. However, the Ghana Football Association has emerged to quash such talk with a rebuttal as unambiguous as any.

“The GFA wishes to state that Professor Mintah has not sent such a proposal to the Black Stars management committee for consideration,” the statement read. Should the FA even decide to approve any such demand by the former Ebusua Dwarfs boss, certain eminent figures in Ghanaian football seem set to oppose it or, at least, speak up to that effect.

To illustrate, consider what former Black Stars skipper Joe Addo, in an interview with Ghanasportsonline, had to say on the subject: “Personally I don't feel it is a bright idea because they are only going to camp for about three weeks to a month so the wives can wait.

“If you are a footballer at this level and you cannot stay from family life or intimacy for just one month, if you have that thinking before the World Cup then you have already failed. Concentrate and get the task ahead of you [done] and come back to have a whole life ahead of you with your wife.”

Point well noted, Joe. But does it really matter?

Keshi, in explaining what motivation he has for giving his players the green light to indulge in marital delights while in Brazil, cites his observations from prior personal experience.

"It's good for the players because it makes you concentrate better. I remember World Cup '94, some of us went with our wives," reasoned Keshi during a roundtable meeting with a section of Nigerian journalists last week.

Clearly, then, what one former professional deems disruptive, another describes as a potential proven morale booster. Whose school of thought do we go with, then?

Keshi's, I say.

It couldn't be that bad, could it?

Nigeria, in 1994, topped their World Cup group before falling valiantly to eventual finalists Italy in the first knockout round. Of course, those heights of success cannot be predicated entirely on the presence of their dear wives at the tournament. Still, Keshi, as skipper of that gallant batch of World Cup debutants, knows more than most just how essential a part that factor played in getting them as far as they reached.

Besides - on the lighter side - it isn't as though too many ladies would be present should a strictly 'WIVES ONLY' policy be adopted (as Keshi apparently intends to do by suggesting the privilege could only be extended to those Nigeria internationals who have tied the nuptial knots) with few of the available Ghana players having wedded partners.

In sum, this is an experiment that might pay off; a recommendation that would certainly excite most of the lads Appiah could call on.

Should the Black Stars coach and his backroom staff request it, why say no? For all you know, Menaye Donkor's presence could be all that Sulley Muntari requires to put in that extra bit of effort; the same could be said for, say, Samuel Inkoom and his beloved Omega. Perhaps - just perhaps - that could be all the difference between another quarter-finals anti-climax and a dream place in the last four.

Nothing inspires a man quite like his woman, remember?

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