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Opinions of Friday, 11 July 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Quality Players Lacking In Character Equals No Great Future

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
July 4, 2014

As far as I am concerned, unless something dramatic, or of sea-changing proportions, happens at both the managerial and player levels, the Ghana Black Stars have absolutely no meaningful or glorious future for any forward-looking soccer lover to anticipate (See "Black Stars Performance Was Good - Kwasi Appiah" / 6/30/14). The fact of the matter is that the players of the Black Stars were simply not good enough as a team. And what is more, the team did not even laudably acquit itself in the pre-Brazil World-Cup Friendlies; and so I just don't know what Coach Appiah is talking about.

Ghana's senior national soccer team also finished butt-naked last in their Group G squad. For me, though, the disappointment began with the friendlies, which almost to the pixle mirrored what happened in Brazil. Conceding goals under one minute into regular playtime is no hopeful measure of a good team, much less a spanking team - and this epic blunder has been replicated with such bizarre regularity as to make one wonder whether, indeed, the team has not been jinxed. It also makes the match-fixing charges seem all the more credible and downright scandalous. And as far as I am concerned, the Black Stars have yet to meet our expectations at the apex level of the game.

But what is even more disturbing is the fact that the Black Stars' performance appears to be inversely tied to the number of times that our boys have qualified for the World Cup. In other words, going by what we have studiously observed so far, the Stars are very likely to perform even worse than they did in Brazil in 2014, come 2018, should they qualify to participate. Right now, it comically looks as if our one overriding objective is to simply score a goal and then Monkey Dance our heads off until we lose our emotional poise and discipline and then get sent off-field, crestfallen and dejected.

My 8-year-old put it best when Nana Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe III pensively opined that the players of the Ghana Black Stars are too emotional for their own good. "The guys lack concentration, Daddy," my son said to me when the Black Stars drew 2-2 with Germany. "Daddy, this is a game that the Black Stars ought to have won hands down." And you can bet your bottom-dollar that Kwame III knows precisely what he is talking about; for he is a minor league soccer goalie with the Riverdale (New York) Soccer Club. His younger brother, Sintim-Aboagye, 6 years old and a striker, also plays in the same league.

I also don't know what he means, when Coach Appiah quips as follows: "Looking at the performance, I believe that there are many positives. But once you don't win, no coach or nobody will be happy about it." I have heard a number of my fellow Ghanaians spit out the same guff about the purported finesse of our players. Maybe somebody needs to power-drill it into the evidently super-thick and super-numb skull of Coach Appiah that in World Cup tournaments, the only positives that matter about the performance of any team are its ability to score and keep scoring and breaking down the defenses of every opposing team like a juggernat.

I would only agree with him, if Coach Appiah could convince my fellow countrymen and women and me that this had been his game plan in Brasilia, and also that he had been able to successfully execute the same. I also don't know what Captain Asamoah Gyan means when he opines that the Black Stars have decided to put their woefully disappointing performance in Brazil behind them, in order to look positively towards the future. Really, my dear nephew, what future are we talking about, besides the primarily personal successes of you and your teammates in initialling millions of dollars in contract renewals and bonanzas with UEFA and other non-African soccer clubs?