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Why COSAFA Cup losses show that domestic talent is ill-coached

I suppose we might say that we are a bit arrogant in thinking that the Local Black Stars cannot lose to a so-called soccer minnow like Madagascar.

Perhaps indeed, it is incorrect to think that Ghana should not lose to certain nations. Whatever the case may be, I was so shocked to see the Local Black Stars lose to Madagascar in the COSAFA Cup.

Ghana had another opportunity against Zambia, but the 0-3 reverse only further emphasised the fact that all is not well with our football.

These players were supposed to be the best on the domestic scene, and so complete capitulation like this begs a lot of questions as to what actually is wrong.

So many questions arise from this particular defeat, even though in the short term, Fatau Dauda is bearing the brunt of criticism.

As expected, Stephen Adams replaced Dauda in goal against Zambia and promptly conceded three goals. So does that mean that goalkeeping was the problem?

I do not think so, even though that could have played a small part.

There are relevant issues which have been swept under the carpet and perhaps this is why these days, it is almost impossible for a domestic player to break into the full Black Stars.

These days, for a football team to be successful, there has to be pace, movement on and off the ball, pressing high up the pitch and making use of spaces.

I will explain. It is important to press high up the pitch to force the opposing team to make mistakes in possession and it is an excellent way of defending from the front.

Also, strikers need to be mobile enough to find pockets of space in between defenders, instead of standing in front of markers.

Movement on and off the ball is extremely important because movement not only allows defenders and holding midfielders the chance to read and cut out dangerous passes, but also allows the best passers of the ball to thread killer passes.

For instance, the mobility of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar is a midfielder’s dream and it is no coincidence that Barcelona has won the La Liga title on the back of their goals.

Lastly, pace is extremely important, down the flanks because that wears down the opposing teams. To be able to do all this, teams must have players that are fully, physically and match fit.

I do not believe that our players in the local league are fit and that is why they cannot press, run fast and move effectively on and off the ball.

Think about how our teams in Ghana play.

The build-up is often slow and ponderous; little or no movement on and off the ball and there is virtually no pace. That is what happened to the Local Black Stars in the two games.

Quite frankly, the losses raise serious questions about the training regimens of coaches working in Ghana.

Former international Laryea Kingston has already criticized the standard of coaching in Ghana and he has taken a lot of flak for it, but I cannot help thinking that what he says has a ring of truth about it.

What kind of training regimens do our coaches put our players through? Are our players being taught the right things in training? Are our players fit?

Maxwell Konadu cannot escape scrutiny because the result also begs the question of whether he selected the right players for this tournament.

Going forward, greater attention should be paid to the clubs that are utilizing the right training regimens. Being experienced alone cannot be a prerequisite for selection into the team and I guess it is time for younger talent to be considered, since younger players will be fitter and hungrier.

I know that our top flight can be considered to be one of the most prominent in West Africa and indeed, Ghana is the current champion in the sub-region, but this result exposes cracks in the way things are done in the Ghanaian top flight and perhaps, a microscopic look needs to be taken at coaching methodologies, as well as proper player grooming and supervision.

Otherwise, we will continue to live under the illusion that we are better than we actually are.

Perhaps it is time that the Francis Oti Akenten-led technical directorate of the GFA began exploring ways of providing a programme that would improve the quality of coaching and supervision on the domestic scene.

Otherwise, the likes of Premier League Board Chairman Welbeck Abra-Appiah will continue to moan when no domestic player gets into the full national team.

I used to be a fierce advocate for domestic players, but it would appear that they are simply not good enough, as per the COSAFA Cup.

There is a lot of work to be done and frankly, coaches in Ghana have to be up and doing.

Coaching at the grassroots level is so important and it is vital that the kids are not thought the wrong things so that they grow with them and fail to flourish.

Talent is not a problem as far as footballers in Ghana are concerned, but clearly polishing the raw diamonds into finished products is the problem.


By Christopher Opoku

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