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Purging the Black Stars: a must for long term success

Discussing the Black Stars is always interesting because it always leads to arguments and counter arguments. So far it has been 35 years of hurt (borrowing an English press football phrase) as far as winning trophies at senior level is concerned. The Black Stars have reached the semi-final of every African Nations Cup tournament since 2008 and reached the final twice in that period, but Ghana’s tally of wins stand at four, with the last AFCON win occurring in Libya in 1982.

This piece will take a totally dispassionate look at the state of affairs where the team is concerned and what can be done for success to be achieved. I will be stepping on many sensitive toes but it is time sentiment is put aside for a huge dose of realism to be injected.

Administrative mishaps and lack of trust

I will be hated for saying this, but the best Black Stars management chairman we have had over the last decade was Fred Pappoe. This was a man whose attention to detail was legendary in planning for games with the team and more importantly, he was like a father to most of the players. As a result, he was trusted by the players and certain situations were kept under control. Things have never been the same again since he left and although the committee is now headed by George Afriyie whose deputy is Wilfred Osei Kwaku, I daresay that trust isn’t there. It is no secret that Osei Kwaku was scathing in his criticism of Kwesi Appiah before his reappointment. Osei Kwaku should have resigned immediately Appiah got the job because how can he work with someone he sees as incompetent? Sadly Osei Kwaku has opted to stay on as the committee’s vice chairman and to me, he has lost every ounce of credibility. George Afriyie has also said that Kwesi Appiah was appointed due to financial considerations and given that he was indirectly behind Willy Sagnol’s bid to become Ghana coach, that is also very telling. What confidence does he have in Appiah then? Add the fact that FA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi sidelined both Afriyie and Osei Kwaku in picking Kwesi Appiah, and the question is what are both men doing in their positions? Bluntly put, if Kwesi Appiah is to succeed, the FA president needs to reconstitute a new management committee for the team because both men at the helm do not trust Appiah and he will not trust them either. The mutual distrust will not help the team. Mr FA president, over to you.

Why the technical directorate needs to be dissolved

I am sorry, but heading the technical directorate of the Ghana Football Association does not entail just organising coaching courses and travelling for seminars and tournaments. The technical directorate is responsible for laying down Ghana’s footballing philosophy for use by not just the various national teams but football in general in Ghana. As damming as it may sound, directorate head Francis Oti Akenteng has done little or nothing in this regard! We have lost the likes of Charles Kumi Gyamfi, Jones Attuquayefio, Ben Koufie, Emmanuel Afranie, Fred Osam Duodu and Herbert Addo. I daresay that the technical directorate has no record of the philosophies of the aforementioned coaches. How then does Oti Akenteng give any national team coach referenced material to work with as in how football should be played? It is paradoxical for the technical directorate to exist when there is no blue print for how our national teams should play. Again, indigenous coaches are not encouraged to add value to themselves by doing the UEFA coaching licenses. The argument trotted out is that the CAF coaching licenses are equivalent to the UEFA licenses. That is simply not true. Do not forget that majority of players in the Black Stars play under top coaches abroad and so will tend to laugh at any indigenous coach who puts out sub-standard training sessions. So where exactly are we headed? Your guess is as good as mine.

Why Appiah needs to work on regaining player confidence in him

Make no mistake. I love Kwesi Appiah to bits and I am delighted that he has a second chance at the job, but I have to be as blunt and honest as possible here. He lost the confidence of most of the players during his first spell and that was largely due to the fact that the players regarded training sessions as inferior to the ones they are used to at their clubs. Appiah needs to do a few things to rectify this. If indeed Ibrahim Tanko will become his assistant coach, then it would be best to allow Tanko handle the training sessions, since Tanko has had overseas training and is therefore likely to do drills that would challenge the players. That will lead to confidence in the coaching staff from the players. I also expect Appiah to be talking to some of the key players of the team to garner support. I say this because my information is that his contact with players since his reappointment has been extremely minimal. That should be far more important than donating $5000 of his yet to be earned salary to retired footballers or coaches every month. Appiah has to avoid making such mistakes otherwise he could be in worse trouble than he was during his first spell. Augustine Ahinful was right when he said that Appiah should be bold enough to take decisions that may not always prove popular. No attempt should be made by him to plead with any player for anything because that would lose him respect from the players. Again, since his appointment goes beyond footballing reasons, he should realise that he does not have the full backing of the FA. That is a fact!

Time to say goodbye to certain players

Without mincing words, I think it is time to thank Asamoah Gyan for his wonderful 14-year service to the team and then phase him out. He has been one of our greatest ever strikers if not the greatest but the time has come for him to bow out gracefully. Perhaps coming on in the last 20 minutes to do a job for the team would help but I don’t know if he will be amenable to such a role, since it would mean relinquishing the captaincy. I think, without any prejudice that he has to take a step back. Players like Harrison Afful, John Boye, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu and Jonathan Mensah are all past their sell by dates and should be left out, whilst the likes of Christian Atsu and Baba Rahman should no longer be automatic choices for the starting eleven. Razak Braimah and Fatau Dauda should also be saying goodbye to the Black stars. Cameroon used a young and unknown team to win the recent Afcon and those following the Super eagles of Nigeria will note that Gernot Rohr has put together a young but talented squad that could qualify easily for the 2018 World Cup.

Possible formations and players for new look team

Once I have suggested that certain players should be left out of the team, I will suggest some players to come in, but I will also suggest some formations as well. Anyone who has watched the Black Stars over the last few years would realise that utilising the wings effectively is absent from our game. I would therefore suggest a 3-4-1-2 formation. In such a formation, either one of Albert Adomah or Philemon Owusu Ayeh could do a fine job at right wing back, whilst either Jeffrey Schlupp or Kwadwo Asamoah (if he returns) can operate as a left wing back. Crosses will lead to loads of chances created and it will help the team especially when goals are scored. It also speeds up the game, which had become pedestrian under Avram Grant. My first choice for the midfield duo would be Afriyie Acquah and Thomas Partey, with Andre Ayew deployed in the ‘hole’ behind the two strikers. My candidates to lead the attack would be Abdul Majeed Waris and Raphael Dwamena with the likes of Jordan Ayew, Ebenezer Assifuah and Samuel Tetteh as back-ups. There would be several candidates for the three man defence and I would be in favour of bringing Jerry Akaminko and perhaps Rashid Sumaila back and adding the likes of Nuru Sulley, Inusah Musah and Ahmed Adams to the mix, as well as retaining Daniel Amartey. Akaminko could play with any two of these players at the back for Ghana. I also think that Adam Kwarasey should be brought back to mentor the likes of Felix Annan, Lawrence Ati Zigi and Razak Abalora, who should be invited. Players like Yaw Yeboah, Alfred Duncan and Malik Akowuah should also be considered.

So these are my views. I know others might have different views and I respect that, but if the Black Stars are to progress, what you have just read are my views on what should be done.

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