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Sports Features of Saturday, 13 May 2006

Source: Arthur, Francis Bondzie

Ghana's World Cup Squad -Comments

I hope we will also pull up surprises like Cameroun, Senegal and most importantly CROATIA did in their World Cup outing when they least expected that they would go past the group stages. The Croatians were able to remain among the final four when Davor Suker, Boban and the likes, I believe, put all their differences behind them, developed high team spirit and fought hard after realizing that they could so something.

Ghana has too many hands and mouths in our football and it is time we put away all these negative tendencies and buried alive all the bottlenecks who, at the background, are doing more harm to Ghana football than good. There are too many ?EXPERTS? in the management of the game to an extent that even ?APPRENTICE TRADESMEN? are managing players and serving as player agents as well as running commentary as to how the game should be administered in the country. What a shame. I was sad to read on a website to know that someone has been apprehended recently for issuing fake ITC. Believe me, this will be the last time we will hear about this case. For all you know, there are some ?Big Men? behind the deal and therefore when the case is pursued their toes would be stepped on.

I believe the Nyantakyi-led administration will put some structures in place to safe the dented image of the FA. Mr. Ben Koufie and Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe tried to tackle these issues, but incurred the displeasure of those ?CROOKS?, who started to dig for their anger and manufactured some weaknesses to make them look like they were doing harm to the game than good. There are so many people out there who are using the game as their source of livelihood and will do all within their powers to discredit the FA when they realize it is blocking the avenues through which they earn ?Dirty Money? from football. I will devote a column later to talk about the FA and offer very great suggestions to the current administration in the interest of the growth and development of the game. In the mean time, I hope the number of officials we are sending to Germany will not be more than the playing body like it happens in other disciplines. Kwesi, put your feet down else the sports writers, presenters, the fans as well as all Ghanaians will not spare you. You have worked hard to reach this level of your journey in the game of football and you should not allow people with selfish interests to do anything to muddy the waters for you.

The ?tentative or final list is out ? I learn there is still some grace period?, and people have started making comments and counter comments about it. Some are great and must be looked at, but others are not necessary. It is good that we have some local players in the team. That is great, but I think an up and coming player like Philemon McCarthy of Fetteh Academy should have been used as the third goalkeeper. This boy is the future of Goal keeping in Ghana football. We should embrace, expose and protect him. Believe me, he will be our safe ?HANDS? in future. How long shall we begin to nurture young talents for future use? So many countries are doing this, which is yielding very great dividend for them. I must say it is very difficult to figure out the inclusion and exclusion of certain names in the list as submitted. Does that mean the technical team was using some of the players just for training purposes for others to take over from them? God, help Ghana football.

I know the role Captains play in sports. Stephen Appiah has done so well as a Captain by being among the few dedicated players I have ever seen in Ghana football. His role as an inspirer to his colleagues was a great factor in our qualification for the Mundial. Most people have that respect for him as a great captain we have ever had. However, I think most of the same people will withdraw that respect if Appiah goes too far. As a captain, he has every right to express his views over the final squad, but for him to openly mention names puts him in the position of some captains in the past who abused some of their privileges and so ended doing harm to our game than good. We know that captains are pivots around which the team can function effectively. However, you should remember that, like a ?Head Prefect? of a school, you are to try to bridge the gap between the students for whom you are the ?Godfather? and the school authorities. You need to dialogue with them on all issues that affect the growth and development of the institution, but you don?t come out openly to talk about how you feel because some ?known faces? have not been offered admission into the school or are not being used for one programme or another.

I think Stephen, even though you are going through a lot of stress and challenges as the flag-bearer of the team, this is the time you should know that you need to brave through the storm and carry the team to the promised land. You command a lot of respect and that is what you should try to protect, despite the fact that you have an opinion to express in one way or the other. There are other colleagues in the team who equally command respect like you do. Take it that such people also raise concerns about the list. Wouldn?t that bring total confusion and dampen the spirit of the team? Football is all about teamwork and team spirit, which you have over the period built with the help of some of your equally dedicated colleagues of the team. This is the time for you to, like a coach, look at the materials available and work around them to achieve greatness and success. I know you are overwhelmed in one way or the other, but stand firm and remain focused.

To the Technical handlers, I know that a lot of planning and consultations went into the preparations before you came up with the list. However, I think respect of some sort should have been given to Stephen. Although he should not decide who should make it and who should not, at least, he could have offered an advise of some sort which could have been of great help to you. I believe if Stephen had been aware of the criteria for coming out with the final squad, he wouldn?t have gone that far to be on a ?hunger strike? and say all that he has said and maybe, has in mind to say later. There is the need for a crises meeting to let him know the respect you have for him as well as his limits. Some captains in the past did something like this or within the same realm and it only spelt the doom of the team.

Before I sign off, let me say I was happy about the comments Joe Tex Frimpong said in a recent interview he granted in Nigeria about his exit from the team after CAN 2005. He was more matured to say that there are a lot of players there with equal chances for being in the National team. Unlike Isaac Boakye, he did not site victimization and other ?unfounded? reasons and cap them up with a threat in anger that he will not play for the National team. I wish we could be in the past times when many people had to justify their inclusion in the National team. You are a fine player, Isaac, but remember that the career you are pursuing is full on chances and challenges. Take a cue from all those players who at one time or another openly said they were not going to play for the National team, but came back later. I don?t want to talk about how they fared on their come back, but nothing good came their way. I don?t root for ?JUJU? in football, but the spirit behind the game is such that if you issue threats and curses here and there, they turn to haunt you someday sometime when you forget yourself and make a ?U? turn. I know every good player wishes to be present at the World cup, but remember that only an accepted number of players among the lot can represent us at any tournament and or in any game. I hope you will put that behind you and pursue your career. As to whether you will or won?t play for the National team, the decision rests in your hands, but making a ?U? turn someday, may be very unpleasant and unfortunate.

I am glad the President will hold a reception for the team before they emplane for their final preparations before they step foot in Germany. That should be a forum to foster more oneness, build high the team spirit and do more towards the success of the team other than getting the team some ?Fanta and Bluna? to drink. Now is the hour for all of us to put Ghana above all other considerations and think about what we must do towards achieving the best at the World Cup. The task ahead of us is too big for us to think about all these trivial stuffs. The technical handlers must respect the players who must also reciprocate as well as show high sense of dedication. I know that when we prepare the ground so well enough like most teams that want to achieve success, we will go far in the tournament.

Long Live the Black Stars. Long Live Ghana.

Francis Bondzie Arthur
Chicago. U.S.A.
fbonzart2000@yahoo.com