Sports Features of Sunday, 17 February 2013

Source: Goka, Frank

Give Me Black Stars and I’ll Give You World Cup

“As I enroll our National Teams in a Military Training School to build physique and stamina that would win trophies to end the to-and-fro visits to the drawing boards.”

Frank Goka

Hmmm! Another CAF African Cup of Nation tournament is over and here we are again—back to the drawing boards as usual. A friend of mine once mentioned sarcastically that the only thing he admired Ghanaians for is how big and loud our talks could be in the “Drawing Room” in our endeavors to find solutions to post-tournament debacles.
Presently, with the euphoria of the game deep-rooted in the hearts of Ghanaians, I foresee the over 30 million Black Star supporters (indigenous and foreign) sitting in their respective classrooms before gigantic drawing boards, t-squares, math-sets containing: protractors, compasses, dividers, erasers and others; all on thick glossy white papers. Then, the whole Black Star team is firmly “clipped” to the drawing boards; bisected, dissected, dichotomized and angled from diverse professional, political, religious and amateur points of view.
Thereafter, an elevation of final report is drawn by highly represented Committee whose purpose is to open eardrums as wide as “Korle-lagoon” in the drawing room for our opinions. The various self-proclaimed Sports Analysts (or Football Analysts) from the littered Radio Stations in the country then take over the report, mouth-washed and pound it in the crucibles of our ears. This process takes approximately 2 months and all that we hear thence is deafening silence on that beautiful image we drew painstakingly.
I am the type that believes in second chance and continuity provided there are signs of fruitful yields at the end of the tunnel. And as a matter of fact, a year ago I wrote to plead for Stevanovic to stay on the job so that he will learn from his mistakes and bring us to the Jubilation Square instead of the teary Drawing Room. However, my plea was defeated by other equally worth-considering views and Coach James Akwesi Appiah (JAA) was outdoored. And there was new King new law principle which culminated in new players, new attitude and fresh breeze of enthusiasm. Having been an Assistant to both Plavi and Claude Leroy, I was expecting Coach JAA to at least pick some lessons from his predecessors’ omissions to enable him transform Black Star holistically and capitalize on the conferred opportunity to put Ghana back on tract. That chance might also stamp on the notion that if given the node, the Ghanaian can managed his own affairs.Unfortunately, Coach JAA missed a vital spot-kick as did his favorite player Asamoah Gyan in 2010 on the same soil. In my view, something ought to be fixed urgently as 2014 World Cup qualifiers and eventual participation (Say Amen to that!) is neigh. I therefore humbly request the powers that be to “give me Black Stars” and I’ll give Ghana, the 2014 World Cup and beyond.
I could sense some of you castigating and calling me a layperson, but hold your spears. I am not in any way trying to put DDT (Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) in Coach JAA’s sumptuous meal, and I am not advocating for a new coach neither. But if I could pay the piper, I will certainly call a tune which will take Ghanaians off the tenterhooks and prevent “premature” hypertension anytime the Black Stars are playing. This is how I’ll achieve that feat:
I will enroll all the short-listed players into “Hard Training, Easy Battle”Army Training School located at Shai Hills on Accra-Akosombo Highway; where the services of seasoned and astute Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) from the Armed Forces will be engaged to build the Boys PHYSICALLY and fine-tuned their stamina. I am saying this because looking at the trend now where BIG NAMES (be it country or individual) don’t matter anymore in football; this is the only way out.
Per my observation, any team that meets Ghana in a tournament comes with tightened perineal muscles without letting go even the smallest volume of gas, due to our ancient glories. With extra adrenaline levels, our opponents are able to outplay our Boys and Girls who fervently pray to God for more Oxygen on the pitch. We all saw the havoc CapeVerde nearly caused at the quarter finals where they roared and groaned like wounded lions against the Black Stars. Truly, I wouldn’t believe it if I were told! But that’s not all. We saw how the likes of Solomon Asante and others were bull-dozed by the gigantic Mali and Burkina players. Again, I was all agape when Asamoah Gyan was running ahead of a Burkinabe defender ostensibly to play the ball towards the opponent goal-posts (certainly, one of the usual wayward kicks), but a Burkina defender outrun him and de-possessed the ball with only the goal-keeper to beat. Unbelievable! Folks, the only way Ghana Teams will be able to match the over-zealousness of our prospective opponents in today’s football, is to get our Boys and Girls physically cooked to out-performed at all times. Period!
I am aware the “Medialists” will start invoking the spirits of democracy against me, but the bitter truth is that, our media practitioners contribute to about 80% of our 32 and half years drought of Black Stars glory. Undeniably, the media (both electronic and prints) is the fastest medium of information from the top to the masses. With their race of chasing the “Breaking News” title, they become very inquisitive and rush to break the news without circumspection which at the end, blows a small incident out of proportion leading to chaos and decrease in moral in camps. For instance, the issue of Dede Ayew’s exclusion in the 2012 squad could have easily been remedied had it not been blown out of hand by the media initially. Obviously, the ability to handle internal affairs in an establishment, leads the successful story of that organization. Show me a notable institution in Ghana, and I’ll prove to you that, it is their ability to handle internal squabbles that propelled them to success. After all, thrashes are best collected when gathered.
Another paralyzing factor of the media which is crippling our football is the way tournaments or matches are over-hyped by the media! It is good to be patriotic, but we should stop letting Ghanaians believe that winning is a one-way flight from God to Ghana! There is “Success” and there is “Failure” just as “Negative and Positive”. Count the letters and you’ll noticed each indicator has equal number of alphabets, which is manifestation that such competitions are held on the field of equality. It takes the fittest (physically, tactically, and the ability to utilize opportunities in the game) to emerged a victor. Phrases like “…the Cup is Ghana bound”, “Black Star will break Nations Cup jinx”, and “we will win our 5th Nations Cup title” without the necessary supporting structures only put pressure on the team to commit blunders. Take note of how the lesser-known teams faired against the so-called pre-tournament favorites like Ghana, Ivory Coast, Zambia and South Africa and you will see light in my assertions. I can say on factual grounds that, about 70% of Nigerian did not dream let alone hallucinate that Nigeria will emerge winners of the 2012 Nations Cup. Yet, it’s a reality today! Look at how Mali played against Ghana (“favorites”) in the group match and compare to their 4-1 massacre by Nigeria (“under-dogs”) and draw your conclusion.
The government should invest in the teams by making available funds for steering affairs. For a player to be physically, mentally and psychologically ready to go to “Hard Training Easy Battle” Academy, he/she should be financially motivated. Life and Disability Insurance packages should be showered on the players and their families. This is the only way players will give their all even to the peril of their last breaths as goes a recital at Shai Hills. On that platform, I wish to commend the government for taking the initiative for handsome remunerations and support for the Black Stars. However, like ourtongues, we shall always yearn for more.
Indeed, our hearts are torn apart. We are looking physically healthy but each Ghanaian football addict could easily be diagnosed with what I called the “Multiple Emotional Hole-in-heart Syndrome” because of the constant abysmal handling and performance of our cherished teams. We want a permanent cure to these ailments and the prescriptions above are the best choice. Indeed, hard training in camps will certainly manifest in “easy matches” that will deliver us even the world cup. We…can…do…it! So let’s start now!
May the flame of the Ghana Black Stars keep burning high! And may God heal our Hearts now and forever!

Frank Goka