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Sports Features of Monday, 27 March 2017


GFA/Gerard Nus tango, WAFA master class, Russel Westbrook

The Spaniard, his money and the GFA

On Sunday morning at 1:30am, my phone gave a slight vibration and I knew a message had come through. Initially I did not care because I thought it was from the naughty boys on my Accra Academy 2004 year group.

I did not want to be stopped from enjoying Scott Mariani’s The Mozart Conspiracy. The story had turned gripping. But I took my phone and I was surprised the message had come from former Black Stars assistant coach, Gerard Nus.

He was informing me of the episode at the Alisa Hotel involving his detention at the premises, his sleeping on a couch in the lobby and the appearance of bills amounting to USD 1,000.

The 7-week episode has come to an end because Nus was finally paid by the GFA/ Ministry of Youth and Sports, he is back in Spain but I was left with some thoughts.

First, we are told very often that money can do all things. It can buy you the best of gadgets, cars, clothes, houses and even people. But we all forget that money can also cause the most uncomfortable of situations and can often destroy good associations.

I feel we have destroyed a good relationship with Nus. Some will ask why I feel we have lost out. For those, who have seen Nus and Avram Grant work together, it is very clear to see that the Spaniard was Grant’s eyes and ears and he was a great help when it came to plans and tactics for games.

How did we get things wrong? Simple, we failed to clarify things for ourselves for Nus and by extension, the people who worked with Avram Grant during his time in Ghana.

When Nus, Jamie Lawrence and all the other people were signed up, did we tell them where they would take their wages from? Was it the GFA or the Sports Ministry?

What contracts did they work with and what terms did we spell out to them? Were they bound by the Black Stars’ Code of Conduct which said that aside from food and accommodation, one was responsible for extra costs at a hotel when working for the GFA?

If yes, did we tell them that? If no, why did we not inform them? Not readying ourselves for that caused a lot of problems and in the process, Ghana’s name took a hit in international eyes once again. Yet again, we have failed to be thorough.

Nus may have paid the USD 1,000 bill, if those accounts are true, or the bills may have been waived by the owner of the hotel, if you believe these accounts too but we are not looking good now that the dust has settled. Let us not lie to ourselves.

WAFA turn Wa upside down

My colleague, Rahman Osman, has a very interesting theory about the Ghana Premier League. He believes that in the league, home teams will almost always win and away teams will struggle to take full points.

For most weekends, this really holds and according to some numbers, I have been looking at, away wins this season have been quite low. But there are very rare exceptions once in a long time and WAFA performed one of those extraordinary tricks last Sunday in Wa. They won 4-1.

These results do not come up often and for Wa All Stars, it was their first ever home loss in eons. Assistant Manager of Wa All Stars, Alhaji Mumuni Sakpara described the defeat as “least expected” and “unprecedented”. How did WAFA do this? Well, they played better and they stuck to their principles of passing football. That was enough to undo All Stars. What I find surprising is that WAFA managed to get their act right on a surface which was not as good as their well-manicured turf in Sogakope.

Is WAFA devising a new way of playing on different surfaces or Wa All Stars were poor on the day?

They are all guesses for now but a few more of such displays on the road and WAFA could start asking tough questions when they come to your place in the Ghana Premier League.

Russel Westbrook

In the NBA, this season, his name has been a synonym for a triple-double. A triple-double ( for the initiates) is when a player records double digit statistics in a basketball game. We could be talking of scored, points, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals (dispossessions)

Westbrook has been recording triple doubles all season. In fact, he has 36 of them so far. You want to ask if he is the only player on the Oklahoma City Thunder roster. He is a lock down favourite for MVP, if you ask me and I feel he should get the prize unanimously.

Of course, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Lebron James of the Cleveland Caveliers and Kawhi “The Claw” Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs are all being rightly mentioned.

But if NBA traditions are anything to go by, Westbrook may not win the MVP Award. My learned friends tell me that if the OKC finish the regular season as a lower seed in the conference, the award will go to someone whose team places higher.

That could be Harden or Lebron James. But Westbrook deserves serious applause even though I believe that his great performances enhances his image and ‘kills’ that of the team. Without Kevin Durant, it was almost impossible to get the Thunder to go places and the rest of the roster somehow have contrived to show us all that they really were a 2-man team after all.

Notable mentions

England’s Lawrence Okolie for winning his first professional boxing bout in 20 seconds on Saturday. Yes. 20 seconds. He landed two right hooks to floor Geoffrey Cave to end the bout in the first round. At least, now I know who I will not be messing with. That’s it for this week.