September 1, 2014


By Ekow Asmah

Amigo is Spanish for a male friend. Likewise, Amiga, for a female friend. Incidentally, in my estimation, two Amigos have managed to waste rare resources that could be put to better use.

At the Brazil 2014 world cup, most Ghanaian fans aspired, yet the dream expired, instilling misery in the spirits of compatriots, all over the world, who hit rock-bottom, from the luxury of Ghana’s historic quarter-final berth in the 2010 edition in South Africa.

That is the mainspring of this article that seeks to explore the benefit of one such friendship between two amigos, Kwesi and Akwasi, to the national cause, going forward.

I have noted that the first of these Amigos, Kwesi Nyantakyi, chair of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), has displayed an amazing ability to create chaos out of absolute peace.

In the case of the second Amigo, Akwasi Appiah, handed the reins of the senior national football team, the Black Stars, based on the sentiment that he is indigenous, he has displayed an amazing ability to do very little with a whole lot, face-planting at the group stage of the Brazil 2014 FIFA world cup, managing A WHOLE ONE POINT, out of a possible NINE.

Yet, like the true friend he is, Kwesi Nyantakyi rushed to his friend’s aid, not only with the first aid, but with the best aid reserved for returning conquering heroes, even though Akwasi Appiah turned out to be the worst Ghana national coach at the senior world cup.

In line with their respective ‘strengths’, at a post-Brazil 2014 press conference in Accra, Kwesi Nyantakyi stayed bullish of Akwasi Appiah, and went on the offensive, brandishing a hawkish attitude that matched an unruly crowd extolling the lawyer’s achievements in a manner I found incompatible with the status and symbol of his office and inimical to the maintenance of law and order in our society.

Subsequently, the FA chair spearheaded the surreptitious re-signing of the patently, subpar coach, Akwasi Appiah, in the interest of who? Himself or the public?

In sticking with Akwasi Appiah, does Nyantakyi expect a different result? Puh-lease! Even a baby is known by what it does. Akwasi Appiah does lose; he is no winner of laurels.

Why the rush to ensure the coach stays the course, give him an equivalent of a 100% raise for failing, and create an avenue for revenue, under the guise of a signing-on bonus of a reported sum ranging between $100, 000 and $150, 000?

Is that not tantamount to squander? I wonder. While I ponder, I cannot help but note the modus operandi of the FA’s leadership, infinitely engendering conflict and controversy, seemingly destitute of fiscal prudence.

By endorsing his amigo Akwasi Appiah, Nyantakyi has endorsed failure, guaranteeing failure for the Black Stars, in the immediate future, for, Akwasi Appiah has not proved his mettle with laurels, as the Black Stars coach.

Also, it portrays the association as not first-class, never mind world class, one not committed to excellence, the key ingredient of good stewardship necessary in building championship teams, thereby destroying the rich legacy during Nyantakyi’s tenure spanning the two previous world cup campaigns.

Taking cue, Akwasi Appiah has dug in his heels, striving to convince even the gullible that he is in charge of the Black Stars, and that he would focus on young players, going forth, closing the door to some of the senior players, whose experience is crucial in building championship teams.

I suspect that statement stems from the spinoffs of the mismanagement of the Black Stars players at the world cup, during which senior players Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng were tossed out on grounds of indiscipline, even though the FA created conditions that gave rise to that uprising, by failing to resolve the appearance fee saga, l-o-n-g before landing in Brazil.

The wise know that most young players belong to the domain of youth competitions, NOT THE SENIOR NATIONAL TEAMS, with a few exceptions the ilk of Colombia’s James Rodriguez, who at age 22, won the Golden Boot at the 2014 Brazil world cup with six goals.

At the senior level, every serious football nation (is Ghana one?) knows it cannot do without senior, even if troubled star-players, in order to shine and win laurels. It takes great expertise to manage and stroke the egos of most stars, in every sphere of life, in order to properly motivate them to optimum effect.

That is the great responsibility that the management of the FA has not yet mastered, ironically the very skill required to get the most out of our star players, i. e. players that shine for their elite clubs, weekly, irrespective of geographic location.

One great example is reliable Argentine goal scorer, Carlos Tevez, whose exclusion from his nation’s  squad at this year’s world cup in Brazil, on grounds of incompatibility with the coach, did cost the South American country the prized trophy, given the begging chances Messi and Palacio wasted, virtually unchallenged, in the grande finale, putting paid to the aspirations of millions of their fans, worldwide.

So, if Akwasi Appiah really strives for laurels, why has he picked (or did the FA pick for him?) the current core of the Black Stars, facing Uganda in a continental qualifier, this Saturday, in Kumasi, minus midfield marshall, SulleyMuntari, a relentless soldier, given to breaking up plays, plus a high accuracy rate of goal-scoring passes?

Like it or not, Muntari is a star, even in his twilight, the reason he shines. He might not be an angel; neither is he the devil. He has anger management issues, just like Akwasi Appiah has coaching-expertise issues, just like ex sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah has foresight and nepotism issues in the administration of football, in this my dear country.

Since Afriyie Ankrah and Akwasi Appiah have been given hardly-earned reprieve, why deprive THE REAL STAR, not the scars, the same clemency, and learn the inherent lessons?

As though the Muntari exclusion were not enough, the FA is on a vindictive drive, cutting the nation’s number one goalie, Adam Kwarasey, on grounds he aired his frustration at being supplanted by bench-warmers favoured by coach Appiah. Who wouldn’t stand up for their rights, in the face of glaring injustice?

Of course, vintage full-back Harrison Afful would not, lest he suffer a similar fate. I am convinced Afful would have been canned, if he had complained about Akwasi Appiah’s favouritism that left him on the bench, while favoured Daniel Opare kept messing up, passing to throw and crossing balls to opponents in Ghana’s first group match against the USA at the Brazil 2014 world cup.

Must the FA resort to vindictiveness, throwing out Muntari and Kwarasey with the bath-water, effectively cutting its nose to spite its already shamed face, given the magnitude of their failure at the world cup?

That is certainly not the way to build a world class, championship team. That list must be revised to include Muntari , following a concerted effort to reconcile both Muntari and Moses Parker, the FA management member with whom he exchanged fisticuffs in Brazil, and Kwarasey, to make sure Ghana fields her very best, not less than.

Also, that list should include Abeiku Ainooson and Augustine Okrah, voted best defender and best player, respectively, of Ghana’s premiership the past season. That way, Ghana would be treading on a new path to super stardom in world football, instilling discipline in the ranks of management, technical as well as the playing body, with a sterling coaching staff calling up ONLY STARS SHINING FOR THEIR CLUBS, HOME AND ABROAD, NOT STARLETS, AND ‘JUDGES’ WARMING BENCHES OF EUROPEAN SIDES.

Current world champions, Germany, proved it with an array of stars – excellent first-team players at their various elite clubs – that showcased a glittering performance throughout the tournament, thanks to a luxury of quality strikers, whose great finishing glowed a powerful example for the wise to emulate.

Even Bayern Munich star, young Mario Goetze, the super-sub that won Germany the world cup trophy with a golden finish during extra time, was eased into the team, piecemeal, along with Chelsea striker Andre Schurrle, because of senior, proven stars like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller and the legendary Miloslav Klose, the all-time world cup tournament top scorer.

That is the formula for success formulated by the German coach, Joachim Loew, for the world to learn. Yet, the block-headed student would not, shunning wisdom, preferring selfish interests over the public good.

Even a few of the young players Ghana featured at the failed mission in Brazil, Everton’s Christian Atsu, Parma’s Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, and lately, Evian’s Jonathan Mensah, have all added their voice to the clarion call for a careful blend of proven difference-makers, home and abroad, and a very few, young but excelling first-team players at elite European club sides, to be fused, piecemeal, into a solid squad for glory at the grand stage.

Yet, the two amigos have different ideas that may not necessarily be of use for the national cause. Instead of focusing on the elephant in the room, i.e, resurrecting dignity from the indignities of Ghana’s campaign at the Brazil 2014 world cup, they create problems and further compound issues, as though they were vying for the Hall of Shame.

Is it logical to equate failure to success, and subsequent promotion, plus a fat bonus? I contend that re-signing Akwasi Appiah to coach the Black Stars, is a rip-off, akin to scoring an own goal, detrimental to the fortunes of Ghana football.

It is unacceptable that, between the two amigos, they have managed to bring the game and the name of Ghana into disrepute, turning our dear, beloved country into a global laughing-stock.

It is time to part company with greed, waste, favouritism, vindictiveness and lack of foresight, amigos, in the management and administration of the affairs of the Black Stars, and indeed, all national teams.

The critical issue is the concrete foundation of a credible, vintage senior national team coach, given to winning laurels at the grandest of stages, not sub-par coaches, promoted for failing, and given a raise unjustified by their results, an exercise of fiscal imprudence, further straining the national coffer, at a time the country can ill-afford that expenditure.

I submit that there is a special place for Akwasi Appiah, called the national Olympic football team, the Black Meteors, where he can get all the young, unproven players he wants, and impart to impact them on the field, with the right attitude, buying completely into his philosophy.

Then, he would gain the opportunity to build a strong squad to qualify for the Brazil 2016 Olympics, and build on coach Sam Arday’s bronze-winning squad at the Barcelona ’92 Olympics, with a gold medal, a la Nigeria and Cameroun.

Any right-thinking member of society would know that a future that requires no change would be the same as the present or even worse.  Given that, I wonder what interest does Nyantakyi have in re-signing subpar coach Akwasi Appiah?

If the Nyantakyi-led FA digs in its heel to keep the status quo, and then impose a technical advisor on Akwasi Appiah, then, Kwesi Nyantakyi should be surcharged with Akwasi Appiah’s undeserved salary raise of approximately $16, 500 per month, his bogus signing-on fee of a reported $100, 000/ $150, 000 and other conditions of his stewardship, for the foreseeable future.

Also, then, Nyantakyi should be surcharged with the salary and other conditions of service for the so-called technical advisor, whose role would be, as described by the FA’s communication director, Ibrahim Sannie Diarra, last week, “the second eye of the coach (Akwasi Appiah)”, “somebody in the stands” to give the Akwasi Appiah “top-notch advice” and “strategies”.

Those descriptions of the incoming technical advisor presuppose that he wields better technical expertise than Akwasi Appiah, in order for him to give Appiah “top-notch advice” and “strategies” to turn average Akwasi Appiah from a loser to a winner.

Since that seems the case, then, why not appoint that superior technical hand the substantive coach, and consign Akwasi Appiah and Maxwell Konadu to the Black Meteors, instead of sticking with Akwasi Appiah just because he is indigenous?

Indigenous, yet, not prodigious. Yea, that’s what’s best for Ghana seems to be the message being conveyed by the FA to the public. Certainly, that is one definition of insanity.

Till the GFA reaches the age of sanity, I say, adios, Amigos Kwesi and Akwasi. Good luck, and God speed.

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