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Sports Features of Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Source: GNA

Claude Le Roy: Due diligence please!

By Richard Avornyotse - GNA Sports Desk

Accra, Feb 20, GNA - The debate rages on. Opinions are pouring in for and against the topic. The camp is divided among the pros and cons and the main man fuelling the discourse is Monsieur Claude Le Roy. Should the French coach of the senior national team, the Black Stars be retained or dismissed.

There are various schools of thought trying to make their positions known in order to influence the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to buy their take on the issue.

To most of them, the parameter for measuring the caliber and performance of the coach is the just ended Ghana 2008, where our agenda of "hosting to win" was botched and we had to contend ourselves with the bronze, "a high profile honour" as the third best team on the continent. As we find various reasons to make the bronze glitter as gold in order to pacify concerned citizens and raise the psyche of the nation, we should not forget that there is a vast difference in the market value of the two commercial metals.

Gold is gold and bronze is bronze and there is no way any metal-smith could transform one into the other.

That notwithstanding, it becomes very necessary to dissect the tenure of Le Roy and do a pathological analysis of the entire duration of his tenure as Black Stars' coach before drawing conclusions and taking the decision.

There is the need to scrutinize all the official activities of the coach since he took office and weigh them critically to see if they conform to our national aim of getting the Black Stars back on the podium as African champions and sustaining our participation in the World Cup and possibly winning it in the near future.

I am sure there would be no qualms if there are signs that the aforementioned goals are achievable while Le Roy remains in the saddle, jockeying diligently and netting rave reviews in the discharge of his duties.

Having said that, let me emphasise that it would require a consortium of high technical brains to assess the tenure of the coach and pass judgment about his competence or otherwise.

The GFA Executive Committee must hold the bull by the horn and resort to due diligence to arrive at an impartial decision because soccer affects every stratum of the Ghanaian society; the reason why my 10 year old daughter wept and skipped dinner when the Black Stars lost to Cameroon in the semi final match.

I know there is a Technical Director at the FA, but taking into consideration the enormity of the task, it would be prudent to constitute a technical committee made up of some of our high crest coaches to produce the scorecard of Le Roy.

They must revisit the Black Stars 4-1 win over Nigeria, the 1-1 draw with Austria, the 1-0 win over Japan and the 3-1 defeat of South Korea.

Other matches they would have to look at include the 1-1 draw with Senegal, the 0-1 loss to Brazil, the 1-1 tie with Australia the 5-0 disgrace from Saudi Arabia and all the matches of Ghana 2008. They must look at tactics, involving attack, retention, mobility, release or distribution and defence. They must also take account of player relationships and cooperation and concentration during matches. The team must also be tasked to look at pre match preparations including choice of tactics, decisions on attack or defence, ie the resort to wing play, long balls through the middle, swift runs at the opponents, wall passing in front of goal and shooting from specific distances. The coaches will know better.

Le Roy's attitude during matches must also come under the lens. His general composure and reactions during matches must be thoroughly scrutinized. Why did he fail to alert the backline to get back into position in the match against Cameroon? Was he carried away by the forward run of the Stars at that time and forgot to watch his back? Another thing of great importance that should be on the card will be the relationship between the coach and his players. Does Le Roy have his favourites and give them preference in team selection to the detriment of fitness and current form?

He must convince Ghanaians that it was more beneficial to include injured Shilla Illiasu, untested Bernard Kumordzi, Kwadwo Asamoah and Nana Kwasi Asare in the CAN 2008 squad, while Francis Dickoh, Moussa Narry and Mathew Amoah were discarded.

Has Le Roy got the ability to induce the best form from his players? Is he capable of talking a player whose form had dipped into resurrection?

Agreed that psychologists have a major role to play in the performance of a team, but it is common knowledge that most high profile coaches have the endowment to oil the mental capacity of their players before matches.

Asamoah Gyan carried our hope to Ghana 2008 but his form dipped and he remained a shadow of himself until he bowed to injury; or was it fatigue?

What about a local component of the Black Stars which Le Roy had promised? What is its composition and how many matches has it played? After engaging in many international matches, why couldn't Le Roy pick a team of 23 or a number close to it but had to come out with an initial list of 40, a month to the tournament? Why did he fail to identify his best players after all those matches?

While we seek to get a true assessment of Le Roy, it will be imperative to talk to the players and seek their opinions. Some of them have played under top class coaches and can easily distinguish mediocrity from excellence.

And there should be no partiality or favouritism in the discharge of this arduous national duty. The GFA Executive Committee is made up of professionals of all shades. There are Lawyers, Accountants, Journalists, Town and City Planners and other professionals and they must ensure that they work together to address this pertinent issue.

The GFA must collectively engage in due diligence to select a technical committee that would work in the paramount interest of Mother Ghana.

The Committee must also indulge in due diligence to arrive at a formula that would be devoid of any biases or sentiments as they assess Monsieur Le Roy.

Ghana's pride gets dented and the nation mourns when our Black Stars fail to shine. The nation's heart bleeds and the citizens of all ranks mourn when they lose. Soccer, no doubt is the passion of the nation and everything must be done to get it on a positive streak.