Sports Features of Friday, 19 October 2012

Source: Appiah, Papa

Spitting in The Face of our Heroes – The Dede Saga

Come on! Let’s put things in perspective. A player is so determined to perform in the colours of his country that he is disappointed to be taken off. He is disappointed because he has just lost the opportunity to make an impact in a game his country is performing badly in. Being a young man, he allows his frustrations to just about spill over and he refuses to acknowledge members of his team.

This is not the first time this has happened in football and it is not going to be the last. This is not the reason the Black Stars are performing as badly as they are. Incidents like this happen all the time and in teams that are performing well. I have seen it happen in Alex Ferguson’s teams, in Jose Mourinho’s teams and in Allan Pardew’s teams.

The big difference, however, is that all these coaches quickly jumped to the defence of their players in the media They all expressed how disappointed they would have been if the player had been happy to be substituted. They were all happy that the player showed passion and a desire to fight for the team that unfortunately, had spilled over. They all claimed, that they had had a quiet word with the player and as far as they were concerned, the matter was closed. Whether they then went on to punish the players or not remained an internal matter in the team. The players were not publicly humiliated in the media.

That is how experienced sensible coaches who are in control of their teams handle issues such as this. They do not run to their chairmen and have a meeting and flex their muscles with statements and ultimatums in the press to humiliate the player. Goodness! This is hardly the kind of incident one gives ultimatums on radio for. If Ayew had done a Carlos Teves and refused to go to play because he was peeved not to have started a game, I would have been the first to call for immediate action.

Having said that, the great Manchester United player Paul Scholes, did a similar thing as Carlos Teves in Manchester United and his coach defended him publicly while privately punishing him. The rest, as they say, is history. Paul Scholes has even come out of retirement to help his coach in time of need. Dede is such a sensible young man, that I strongly believe if Coach Kwasi Appiah had had a quiet word in his ear and defended him publicly; would he have jumped at the next opportunity to apologise. Instead, being the out-of-his-depth coach that he is, he is rather happy to hide behind his chairman who then tries to take control of this in the media as perhaps he is in control of all issues related to the Black Stars. In the end, what has Nyantakyi done for Ghana? How do we reward our heroes in Ghana? We organise fund-raising matches for them and rip them off. What has Ayew got to lose if he decides not to play for the country again? He is, at 23, a winner of a youth world cup medal as captain of his team. He has played in a World Cup and in THREE African Cup of Nations. He has played in European cups and been acknowledged as one of the best players in Africa. Many players do not achieve this in a lifetime, let alone at 23. Why should he break a leg for a country that dishonours and spits in the face of her heroes, only to be publicly humiliated for a bit of over-exuberance.

Papa Appiah