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Sports Features of Monday, 6 June 2005

Source: Richard Nartey

Coach Duya, Please Open Your Eyes

I am not one to often criticize coaches mid tournament, but Ratomir Dujkovic has got to have noticed a disturbing trend in the selection of players for the senior national team, the Black Stars.

What is the trend? It is the seeming preference for players on the books of Sly Tetteh. Let there be no doubt about Sly's contribution to Ghana soccer. If for nothing, he produced Michael Essien.

Before I go any further, let me state that this is not an attempt to bash Sly, but it is an attempt to make sure that we do not loose sight of the stated objective of national teams, which is the selection of the best players at each position for the Black Stars, who have the wherewithal to do the job. It is not for me to point accusing fingers, but it looks like someone somewhere prefers to make more phone calls to Sly Tetteh?s players than others. It looks like the people that the coach relies on for some of his situational intelligence on players prefer Sly?s players.

Duya should open his eyes and put a sock in this practice. If he fails, they will be the first to unload a catalogue of blame on him, to extricate themselves from the wrath of Ghanaian soccer fans.

If he doubts me, he can place a phone call to a certain Dossena and make inquiries.

Of the players who represented the Stars yesterday, Patrick Antwi, Emmanuel Pappoe, John Paintsil, Baffuor Gyan, Asamoah Gyan, Mark Edusei, Kofi Amponsah, Sulley Muntari etc are all on the books of Sly Tetteh.

It looks to watchers that there is an overwhelming forebearance on Sly Tetteh's players, to the detriment of others.

Let us look at a few issues. John Paintsil was fielded at right full back. Paintsil does not even play at right full back position for his club. This is a player who was chased out of Hapoel Tel Aviv by his own teammates for tactical inabilities. Yet he plays as a right full back, in preference to the likes of Aziz Ansah and Amankwaa Mireku, who have excelled at that position most of their careers.

Then there is Emmanuel Pappoe. A demonstrable lightweight, who is always caught pants down during counter attacks, and was clearly a passenger during the Olympics and at present. He is preferred to Kotoko's Godfried Yeboah, who is probably the best left back to have a Ghanaian passport at the present moment.

Asamoah Gyan and his brother Baffuor are preferred to the likes of Charles Taylor, Joe Tex and Ishmael Addo, yet but for Joe Tex, there is no way we would have won that match. Kofi Amponsah was preferred to Issa Ahmed or Dan Coleman and there again, the change that was forced on Duya manifested itself.

These forced changes, made sure that the likes of Laryea Kingston could not be introduced into the match.

If Duya claims to have a consistent policy for selection into the Black Stars that has disqualified the likes of Osei Kuffuor (before the indiscipline case) and Charles Taylor, and this policy is across the board, then Kofi Amponsah should not have been in the team because he had not featured for his club in over 2 months.

We all remember the influence that an Italian player agent named Ricci had on our national team some time ago that cost this nation very badly at CAN 2000. Let us not jump from one player agent's overbearing influence to another. It is extremely dangerous for our football.

Duya, there is no excuse for the continued exclusion of the likes of Charles Taylor from the national team.

For a Black Star that has problems scoring goals especially during away matches Taylor's offensive threat and ability at set pieces can be invaluable.

We all admire your steel and unflappable determination, but please apply it across the board and give everyone who can contribute a chance. I hope that this gets across to you in the good faith it was intended and not as an unnecessary critique. The whole of Ghana is behind your noble efforts to get us to the Promised Land, and we believe that you WILL get us there.



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