Editorial: AFCON 2023 fiasco: the GFA’s crocodile tears

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has finally issued a statement apologising to Ghanaians over the painful exit of the senior national soccer team, the Black Stars, from the ongoing African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast. The Stars lost to Cape Verde 1-2 and drew 2-2 with both Egypt and Mozambique. These results were not enough to qualify them to the next stage of the competition.

“We understand the disappointment and frustration that such results can bring to our passionate football-loving nation. Our team’s performance fell short of the high expectations we all share, and we take full responsibility for the disappointment.

“The GFA wishes to assure all stakeholders that the requisite steps are being taken to address the issues at hand, and a thorough review of the team’s strategies, training, compensation, and overall structure is underway,” various media outlets quoted the GFA as saying.

Much as The Chronicle welcomes this apology, it still falls short of the fundamental issue which is affecting the performance of the team. Readers will recall that in the last commentary we ran on the issue, we expressed concern over the selection of players into the various juvenile teams – Under 17 (Starlets), Under 20 (Satellites) andU-23 (Black Meteors) who subsequently graduate into the national team.

Unconfirmed signal we have picked indicates that some of the FA officials have established teams at the various levels of football and that majority of the players selected for the junior teams come from these football clubs allegedly owned by the FA officials.

Indeed, a former Vice President of the GFA, Mr Fred Pappoe, appears to have picked up similar signal when he questioned the procedure for selection of players into the juvenile national teams, during a recent interview he granted to the Daily Graphic.

“One important area, which we appear to be overlooking, is the whole area of our youth football development and the fairness of the system. How transparent are we in the call-up to our youth teams, in the U-15, U-17 and U-20?

“Are we calling up the best materials throughout the country in a very fair way, or are we just calling players who have access to power and authority?” the Daily Graphic quoted him as saying.

As the Akan adage goes – when a frog comes from under the water to tell you that the crocodile is dead, you do not challenge it. Fred Pappoe is a former FA official and if he is today questioning the mode of selection of players into the juvenile national teams, it gives credence to the allegation that the selections are not based on merit.

Ghana performed creditably in South Africa 2010 World Cup because most of the players who won the 2009 FIFA Under 20 World Cup were graduated into the national team. Earlier, these same Under-20 players had led Ghana to the AFCON final in Angola in 2010. This tells a story that when the juvenile teams perform well, it positively affect the performance of the national team as well.

Unfortunately, Ghana has failed to glitter in recent years when it comes to juvenile football. But with the revelations coming out now, The Chronicle is not surprised, because selection is no more based on merit, but who you probably know at the top echelons of our football.

In our opinion, this is what has brought our football down at all levels, with the Stars failing to make any meaningful impact in recent Cup of Nations. Regrettably, the GFA’s apology is silent on this crucial matter.

Another critical area that is impacting negatively on the performance of the team is how players are selected to play matches. Indeed, in our editorial we earlier referenced in this write-up, we questioned why Richard Ofori, who is a third choice goalkeeper with a South African football club, was selected over Ati-zigi, who kept the post during the Qatar World Cup and is playing regular football in Europe.

But what are we reading now? Richard Kingson, who is the goalkeeper’s trainer, is quoted as saying that he selected Ofori to man the post basedon luck. If Kingson indeed did make this statement, it simply means Ghana football has no direction, because no competent coach will choose luck over hard work at training.

In fact, the rot at the Ghana football Association is so gigantic that one cannot finish talking about it. This is the reason why we support the journalists who have decided to go on a demonstration against the GFA over the manner the association is handling football matters.

The national team is at the heart of every Ghanaian and we are even reading that somebody died in Tema after Ghana’s elimination from the ongoing AFCON due to shock.

This unfortunate death, among others, is the reason why the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the government as a whole must sit up and address the challenges confronting the national teams and the Black Stars in particular.

We, as a nation, will be laughing at the wrong side of our mouth one day if we allow the GFA to run the show without the intervention of the government on behalf of the state, which owns the national team. We shall surely return to the subject once again.


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