Sports Features of Friday, 24 February 2012

Source: Owusu-Barnes, Carl

Now That The Dust Seems Settled!!!

The Good Book enjoins us and common sense demands, I believe, that we do not waver in the face of adversity but remain reflective and circumspect in our thoughts, and refrain from making panic judgment decisions. The contrary has rather transpired since AFCON 2012 with some making poor decisions, others making disparaging comments, and everybody blaming everyone else but themselves. Emotions have reached a crescendo with people acting schizophrenically, and the ignominy of it all is that those supposed to know better have also been caught ostrich-neck deep in the blame game. The fact, however, remains that until we accept responsibility, critically assess our mistakes and put in place mitigating measures we shall continually become bedfellows with mediocrity and disappointments, and give credence to the statement by Albert Einstein which I do not fully agree with though (because I think there are other constants) that the two constants in life are the universe and HUMAN STUPIDITY.

Everyone from fans to players to administrators have been caught in this web of complaints but here are a few observations I’ve made in the aftermath of AFCON 2012, and issues I think are worth pondering over by all and sundry and are enumerated as follows:

1. Pronouncements by certain GFA officials especially Jordan Anagbla and George Afriyie have been nothing but disappointing to say the least. Instead of shoring up their credibility by proposing solutions or telling us what they did to ameliorate situations they’ve rather fully immersed themselves in the blame game by making statements such as ‘the coach is too hard headed because he did not heed player selection advice’, and that ‘some of the players are disobedient’. Doesn’t this smack off interference and a lack of authority on the part of himself and the coaching staff to quell any acts of indiscipline? Regarding player truancy, what did he Jordan Anagbla in his capacity as GFA VP do about it since he was with the team? Couldn’t he have weathered the storm to ensure unity and cohesion of purpose at the time and settle the issues thereafter? The questions we need answers to are: when was this observation of player disobedience made – before the tournament, during the winning period, after the Zambian loss or when? What were the reasons behind the disobedience and have the issues been addressed?

2. The GFA should do a much better job in its damage control procedures because allowing issues and rumors to fester only adds to the degree of difficulty in disabusing any misconceptions. Under no circumstances should it take almost two weeks for the GFA to hold a press conference after such a colossal let down. Also if I’m reading right it seems Kwesi Nyantakyi is also of the impression that the players are mostly to be blamed for our performance because they sought self glory at the expense of team cohesion and glory. So if that’s the case and as such the coach is minimally, used advisedly, responsible then why is there a need for another 2 weeks to decide his fate? That brings me to my third observation.

3. Is the apprehension as a result of the rumor making rounds that the premature termination of the coach’s contract will cost the nation three times the amount owed him for the rest of the duration of his contract which is purported to be $1.8m, and therefore the need for more time to come up with a strategy to forestall the public backlash especially in the wake of Woyomegate? If true then who signed such a contract and wasn’t it found expedient to include provisions or clauses which requires certain performance parameters failure of which negates any unnecessary penalties or compensations?

4. The public relations (PR) nightmare displayed by Asamoah Gyan. Whoever Dentaa or his manager is has done him a great disservice. The right thing for Gyan to have done was come home with the contingent, organized a press conference with his manager seated by him to apologize for his recent frequent penalty misses, and promise to make it up to Ghanaians in future endeavors. But to fly back to his base and make comments like other world renowned soccer players also missed crucial penalties is at best silly and counterproductive. Does the fact that Baggio missed a penalty give him a right to miss a penalty? What kind of rationalization is that? And to add insult to injury he crumbles under criticism and immaturely announces his premature break from the national team. Wherein lays his mental fortitude and toughness? Honestly I do not personally blame Gyan for Ghana’s defeat because I think it was all a ‘comedy of errors’ but the wise thing he should have done in the face of criticism was to be strong, accept it and make concerted efforts to come back better and stronger than before. Another big blunder was the fact that Jordan Anagbla once again informed us that he had spoken with Gyan and that he should be back sometime in June. Wow!!! Is his position perpetually guaranteed in the Black Stars? Though I do not blame Jordan for contacting him and impressing upon him to rescind his decision once again that message should have come from Gyan himself or his manager. What message are we sending across? Would Jordan have done same had it been Prince Tagoe?

5. Why does Stevanovic operate mostly from Serbia and not Accra? One might argue that most of the players ply their trade abroad. All well and good. But my question then is how many Black Stars players play in Serbia? Does he monitor them by visiting their teams’ premises or by watching games or tapes of them from Serbia? If the former then what prevents him from flying to their bases from Accra and if the latter why can’t he do same from Accra as well? Isn’t it one of the duties of the coach to unearth local talent? I understand that’s the duty of Akwasi Appiah and Eddie Ansah. If so is the reserve goalkeeper the only local talent discovered and worth mentioning? Is that saying something about the state of the local league?

6. Once again soccer fans are calling for a local coach notably Marcel Desailly and Sellas Tetteh. I still maintain that the skin pigmentation of the coach is of irrelevance to me insofar as he has the technical abilities and know-how as well as the motivational capacity to take the team to lofty heights. That was why my heart bled profusely when I read that Stevanovic stated that he found it so difficult to motivate the players for the 3rd position game against Mali. That in itself is a red flag because that to me is one of the hallmarks of a quality coach. Yes Desailly was a fine player but what is his coaching pedigree? If that’s who we want then we should brace ourselves for the growing pains that come with rookie national team coaches.

7. The managers and agents of the players should stop considering these boys as essential commodities and attach some emotional connection to them. Seems many of these managers are only interested in their share of transfer fees or what not and don’t care a hoot whether they play in Cambodia or Honduras. Many of our players play in ‘irrelevant leagues’ and remain stagnant in their growth and progress. A case in point is Dominic Adiyiah. I long for the day when Ghana can boast of about seven (7) players playing for teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Valencia and the likes.

8. The local league, colts soccer, refereeing, local coaching should all undergo a serious overhaul if we’re to get anywhere meaningful in our soccer march.

The progress and growth of Ghana soccer should transcend beyond any selfish parochial interest, and everybody should have their hands on deck to support its ascension otherwise we will continue to be bogged down by this oscillating movement of slight progress and ‘gargantuan’ setbacks.

Long Live Ghana, Long Live Ghana Soccer!!!!

Carl Owusu-Barnes Maryland, USA