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Sports Features of Sunday, 12 February 2012

Source: Daily Guide

Two Bad Foreign Coaches

– How World Cup and African Cup dodged Ghana.

For the next two or three weeks, I shall be bringing to my readers some serious analyses of how our foreign coaches always mistrain and mislead the Black Stars to the extent of depriving them of ultimate victories that can make them grab the World Cup or African Cup. Meanwhile, to prepare readers' minds, I have considered it worthwhile to initially re-publish snippets of two old articles on former coach Milovan of Serbia which have close relevance to our present Serbian coach Goran Stevanovic's bad coaching methods. Coach Milovan took the Black Stars to the World Cup and Coach Goran has led the Ghanaian team to the ongoing African Cup tournament which ends tomorrow, with Cote d'Ivoire and Zambia vying for the Golden Cup. Now read on. Coach Milovan appears not to perceive who a potential striker is, and who is not, and he appears either lazy or unable to train strikers so to sharpen their skills for netting goals. His infatuation with Asamoah Gyan as a striker has been criticised, yet he recalcitrantly chooses him to be the one-man striker up-front. And Asmoah Gyan continues to throw clearly winning balls over the bar or away from the side posts.

With my experience as a coach, I see Asamoah Gyan as a very good mid-fielder with good tackles and good passes. But if coach Milovan prefers Asamoah Gyan to be a striker, I have no quarrels with him. He can do that provided he can train him to always shoot into the net. Asamoah Gyan can be TRAINED to be an effective striker, if his errant shootings are stopped. And there are ways of doing this. If Asamoah Gyan still shoots balls over the bar or away from the goal posts, it means Coach Milovan either doesn't know how to correct that young man's mistakes or he feels lazy to do so. This could be most unfortunate indeed. As I have said, there are ways to TRAIN strikers to score goals at the least opportunity.

Nevertheless, for lack of space, these cannot be discussed; and even if they could, I am determined that my articles should be devoid of consultancy information; so these cannot be explained here. Again, there are ways of discerning who a striker is- anyone in the forward line who has speed in running, and is nimble-footed etc. Fact is, any seasoned coach can select potential strikers- three or four- from his team and train them to score prolifically. He needs not go to hunt strikers in other teams and purchase them. The other day, I heard a coach expressing his desire to buy a striker from another team. That saddened me indeed. This was because he can select and train his own strikers, but it seems he doesn't have the perception techniques nor does he know the training methodology to select and nurture strikers!

Mathew Amoah is clearly a good striker, but his ball anticipation and reception of passes need to be corrected. However, it's rather unfortunate that whenever Amoah is fielded as a striker, he is not given good passes, or very few passes are directed at him when the defence is closely marking him. It's the error of the mid-field players to give wrong passes which Milovan must quickly correct. A few weeks ago, I wrote that Quincy Abeyie is a potential striker, and he needs to be trained as a good striker, but it seems my dear coach Milovan hasn't read what I wrote, or is ignoring that piece of advice. In fact, both Quincy Abeyie and his colleague, Haminu Dramani can be trained as very reliable strikers. It's therefore most unfortunate that Haminu Dramani was not included in the 23-man Black Stars squad. Was he terribly sick? If not, then the coach and his technical men must be rebuked for excluding such an invaluable player. So was Laryea Kinston, whose crossings are always very effective. Excluding these two very good utility players and rather including two doubtful players for prestigious reasons should be condemned!

The question of Milovan's on-the-field formation of 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 is something that beats the mind. I wonder why coach Milovan is always preoccupied with defensive build-up at the expense of putting up goal-scoring framework. Of course, both are very necessary and must receive the coach's equal attention. As a matter of fact, modern-day work study of on-the-field formation of players disrecommends the 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 and 3 - 2 - 3 - 2 arrangements, describing them as ineffective line-ups for goal-scoring victories. Coach Milovan should stop using one or two strikers up front. That indeed is a 'colo' method (which is out-of-use). If he insists on using it, then I am afraid Ghana may not go to the quarter-finals. In my opinion, the goal-scoring cut of 3 - 3 - 4 or at least, 3 - 4 - 3, providing four or three strikers in the forward line will stand us in good stead. Will somebody relay this message to coach Milovan? GFA, send this message to his attention.

Ghanaian Head Coach

Another concern expressed by several soccer observers in Ghana is GFA's preoccupation with foreign coaches- the appointment of white coaches from Europe to come to coach our Black Stars for African Cup and World Cup matches. This is a big shame to Ghana, and a huge disgrace to our Ghanaian coaches who also know how to coach. From the exit of white coach de Roi, one expected the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to think hard of our finances and our available highly-rated coaching expertise and thus appoint a Ghanaian to coach our Black Stars for the World Cup and the African Cup matches, yet this expectation never became materialised. A white coach from Serbia by name Milovan Rajevac, briefly called coach 'Milo' (don't mistake that for the Milo beverage we drink) was appointed as the Black Stars head coach.

The appointment of coach Milo was really very insulting to the integrity and coaching ability and expertise of our good Ghanaian coaches! GFA, tell us Ghanaians whether our coaches are mere simpletons and blockheads who don't know how to train the Black Stars to win diadems in the African Cup and World Cup? Can GFA give any well-rationalized logic that can convince us that foreign coaches are better than Ghanaian coaches? GFA President Nyantakyi, come out over this, I dare you. Why this extreme preferences for white coaches? Are your own Ghanaian coaches deadwoods who can't deliver? If no, why can't GFA choose one to be the head coach? I hope GFA will react - and react convincingly -to explain its disgusting preferences for white coaches, when several Ghanaian coaches with high-level expertise are available.

As if the engagement for coach Milo for the World Cup was not enough a treat for him, the Public Relations Officer of GFA, Randy Abbey, hinted the other day that GFA was making plans to RE-ENGAGE coach Milo when his present contract ends in August this year! Good God! What the hell of excruciating insults was Randy uttering to Ghanaian coaches and soccer analysts and observers? Let me tell GFA that as one-time footballer and coach myself -and I have said this several times in this column - I know very well that our Ghanaian coaches are good and some of them have the high-grade proficiency to qualify them to steer the affairs of a head coach. Isn't Coach Sellas Tetteh a Ghanaian? Wasn't he able to lead the Under-20s to bring home the World Cup diadem?

As a matter of truth, all the three times that Ghana has brought home the African Nations Cup were periods when a Ghanaian was a coach! No white coach has been able to lead Ghana to clutch home the African Nations Cup or World Cup. I am glad that the one-time prolific sports writer, Oheneba Charles, who became the Sports Editor of the Ghanaian Times in the mid-70s when I was a Research Writer there, is a member of GFA and can brief Nyantakyi and others about those Ghanaian coaches whose exquisite training techniques brought the African Cup to Ghana three good times! So, our Ghanaian coaches really stand the better chances of bringing diadems to Ghana instead of foreign coaches. After all, has any foreign coach brought any African or World Cup to Ghana? Not even a single white coach! It is therefore an irony of history for GFA to continue to preoccupy itself with white-man-coach thinking, a sort of mentality that brings us nothing. Was coach Milo contracted to lead the Black Stars to bring home the World Cup or merely to help Ghana reach a respectable position in the tournament? If the latter position was even a part and parcel of the contract, then it was an absolutely inane and paradoxically frivolous deal.

But if coach Milo was engaged to lead the Black Stars to bring home the World Cup, then he failed in his undertaking and must be given the sack. The logic here is that he couldn't fulfill his contract, and thus it is absolutely ironical and naive for GFA to indulge in such a ridiculously frivolous deal which perhaps pinpointed the desire to reach a respectable position but not to bring the cup! Fact is that in legal considerations, coach Milo failed in accomplishing his contractual obligation, and so he cannot be given another similar contract. He must be given a thank-you handshake and told to go. That's all.

By Apostle Kwamena Ahinful