In the Wednesday edition of this paper, we touted the past achievements of the senior national team, the Black Stars. We listed the exploits of the 2009 golden generation, which won the Under 20 World Cup for Ghana in Egypt.
All these achievements, we contended, were as a result of pragmatic measures put in place to nurture football talents in the country. Unfortunately, we have departed from this blue print and the result is the trouble facing the Black Stars as a team – because we do not have the nursery teams to feed them with high class players.
We then suggested that Ghana adopts the Senegalese strategy, which is helping the French speaking country to achieve more football laurels on the continent of Africa. Senegal, we are told, has a football academy in France, which is training young boys of Senegalese descent.
But, as we wait to hear from the authorities on the subject matter, we do not think the above issues we have raised are the only problems confronting the senior national team. In our opinion, the Black Stars are being treated or seen as business entity for some group of people. What these football people are interested in is how to make money for their individual pockets and not the performance of the team.
It is on record that one of Ghana’s great performers in Europe, Joseph Paintsil, was surprisingly dropped from the 2022 world Cup in Qatar, under strange circumstances. Later, the owner of the team the player played for before moving to Europe, Wilfred Osei Palmer, came out to state that Paintsil was dropped because of the problem the GFA president had with him (Palmer).
If this allegation is true, why should the country suffer because of the strained relationship between the football authorities and Mr Palmer, owner of Tema Youth, which is Paintsil’s former local club? The Chronicle was, therefore, happy when the dismissed Chris Hughton decided to include Paintsil in the 2023 AFCON squad.
But what did we see – the skilful player was not allowed to exhibit his talent to the fullest, as the coach kept on changing him. For instance, in the game against Egypt, the coach brought Painstil into the game in the 89th minute. Of course, the coach has the right to change him, but all Ghanaians who watched the matches saw that the player was playing well and deserved to play a 90 minutes full game.
In the area of goal keeping, Lawrence Ati Zigi, who kept the post during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and performed well, was dropped to the bench. Richard Ofori, who was given the opportunity to keep the post, is a third choice goalkeeper with Orlando Pirates in South Africa. In other words, he is a bench warmer, but Ati Zigi who is playing regularly in Europe was dropped to the bench. If we may humbly ask: is this not strange?
Former Minister for Youth and Sports, Nii Lante Vanderpuye, in his recent interview with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) suggested the need to reconstruct the whole structure of Ghana’s football in order to generate a new crop of talents to secure Ghana’s success in tournaments.
According to him, coaches appointed to handle the senior national team, the Black Stars, are not allowed to invite their own players, which needs to be stopped. “Individual interest is killing the management of the Black Stars,” he reportedly told the state owned radio station. In our humble opinion, Nii Lantey hit the nail right on the head, because his suggestion seems to be the right situation on the ground.
We should not gloss over the fact that the Black Stars is a national team owned by Ghanaians and not any individuals. The state, represented by the government of the day must, therefore, have a say in how the team is managed. Football plays an important role in the sustenance of peace and stability in the developing world.
It would, therefore, be wrong for the government to sit aloof and allow certain individuals to handle the team as if it is their personal property.
We would surely return to this subject in our subsequent publications.