Sports Features of Saturday, 5 August 2006

Source: Statesman

No Barriers Please, In Our Search For Coach

The sudden departure the Black Stars coach, Ratomir Dujkovic, though not unexpected, has raised much concern and engendered discussion within the sporting public.

And even though the GFA boss expressed regret about Doya?s departure, some critics still believe that his departure should be treated as part of the hazards associated with the sport.

?Coaches go, coaches come, but the struggle for honours continues unabated?, says a soccer club management official.

Indeed, the Black Stars have been managed by 34 local and foreign coaches since 1958. And one can?t deny the fact that, of all those coaches, it was Dujkovic who made history by taking the Stars to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

However, on completion of his task, he quit his job with only about three months to the end of his contract. And that?s why his unceremonious departure should send a warning note to the nation?s soccer controlling body to be more cautious in the selection processes of a new coach, which is currently underway.

The FA, undoubtedly, has started on a good note, appointing a nine-member committee under the chairmanship of GFA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi, to search for Doya?s replacement.

Published elsewhere on this page, is the criteria that would be used in the selection of the new coach. Applicants shall posses: ?A minimum of diploma in coaching with relevant Coaching Experience; Good interpersonal traits and communication skills; Good knowledge of the African football terrain; A proven track record and achievements; and Proficiency in the English language?.

Interestingly, there is no mention of the age limit, though speculations were that applicants must not be more than 60 years.

One, therefore, wonders why the age 60 has been left out when a member of the GFA had publicly hinted that the age limit would be fixed at 60.

Was it because of the protest raised by the Retired National Footballers Association of Ghana that felt that the FA was about to exclude its members from taking up the Stars job?

Hear the retired footballers: ?The association is of the view that if the 60 years age limit is the only criteria, then the FA should reconsider its decision, since some of the head coaches that participated in the Germany 2006 World Cup were over 60?.

From all indications, the retired footballers felt that the alleged age limit was to exclude some of their colleagues whose ages are beyond 60. And this refers to coaches like Sir Jones Attuquayefio of the Dansoman-based Liberty Professionals, Asante Kotoko?s Kwasi Afranie and Sam Arday of the Feyenoord Football Academy.

Of course, the association has every reason to kick against the age limit because a lot of the best coaches in the soccer world are above 60, if we rightly have to cite examples in the recent World Cup in Germany.

However, since the GFA has now officially advertised for the position without reference to any age limit, it is assumed that the idea has been shelved. Maybe, the committee would, in its own view, take the best decision with or without referring to the age limit as one of the criteria.

But, who says the committee, which has Tuesday, August 15, 2006 as the deadline for submission of applications, won?t use that as its measuring rod to select the new coach?

Well, let?s give the committee the benefit of the doubt and hope that it is going to be fair in its selection, without resorting to any decision that would intentionally end up sidelining fellow Ghanaians because of old age.

Now, the ball is in the court of the Ghanaian coaches to prove to fellow countrymen that what is good for the gander is good for the goose, and that they are equally competent to handle the national senior soccer team.

For, as records go, the four times Cup of Nations winners achieved that merit through the efforts of Ghanaians coaches. Let?s not forget that the Ghanaian naturally has better understanding of the style and capabilities and potential of the local players.

Did I hear that Italian coach Guiseppe Dossena, who left after failing to win the 2000 Cup of Nations jointly held by Ghana and Nigeria, is making a u-turn to the Stars camp? Maybe, he now has the magic wand to win honours for the nation.

And this reminds me of Lucky Mensah?s song -- ?Come back, come back to me ?? Till next week, that?s the way it is!