Editorial: The Japan drubbing – money conscious GFA strikes again!
On April 14, 1993, Ghana’s Black Stars suffered the heaviest defeat in the football history of the country, losing 1-6 to the then defending World Champion, Germany, in an international friendly game played at the Ruhrstadion, Bochum.
The match, which featured the great Abedi Ayew Pele, Tony Yeboah, then goal king in Germany, Yaw Acheampong, Emmanuel Armah, Prince Polley, Yaw Preko and Frimpong Manso among others was and still is a disaster many football fans will not want to recall. Though so many reasons were ascribed for that heavy defeat, including the alleged ‘fight’ over who should captain the team, the conclusion was that never again should this happen.
Regrettably, 27 years down the line, the same disaster has struck the nation again. This time, Japan, whose pedigree in football comes nowhere near Ghana, has hammered our Under-23 national team, the Black Meteors by 10 goals to nothing on aggregate, in a two-legged international friendly. The Meteors first lost to their Japanese counterparts, who are preparing for the Olympic Games by 6 goals to nil in a match played last week Saturday in Japan.
And just yesterday, the Black Meteors lost to the same side by 4 goals to nil, bringing the aggregate of goals scored by Japan to 10. Though one may argue that this is football and anything is possible, this debacle has, nevertheless, dented the corporate image of Ghana. In fact, a number of football loving fans are asking questions as to whether it was prudent for the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to have accepted to play the match in the first place.
Japan is hosting the summer Olympic Games and, therefore, started preparing her Under-24 national soccer team long ago. Unfortunately, Ghana did not qualify for the tournament and could not, therefore, keep her players in camp to ensure proper team work. In view of this, no serious football nation that values her reputation would accept to play an international friendly with a team that had qualified for the Olympic Games and is making serious preparations to win the tournament, as a host nation.
Regrettably, when Japan dangled a few thousands of dollars in our face, we grabbed it with alacrity, without thinking outside the box to find out if, in the first place, we have a team to play such an international friendly and whether it was prudent at this time that our local league is cruising to the homestretch.
Indeed, if officials of the GFA had sat down to do proper analysis about the strength and weakness of our team, they would have realised that turning down the request from Japan would be the best option.
However, our incessant love for money more than caring about the reputation of our country, with football people eager to lay hands on some ‘kickbacks,’ we threw caution to the wind and decided to honour the match. We did so by quickly calling players from some of the premier league clubs and first division teams and flew them to the Asian country, and the end result of this deficit in thinking is the ten nil drubbing we received.
Yes, the match was just a friendly one, but after the thumping that we had, no serious football nation will in our view, invite Ghana to play such friendly matches in future again, because they know that the four times African champions can no more provide them with the opposition they want. Apart from this setback, our world ranking by FIFA is also going to be affected.
In our opinion, the GFA has become a purely business entity, whose principal aim is to make money – advertise players and sell them. When the government of the day tries to intervene to streamline things, the same football people are quick to remind us of FIFA’s no political interference in football matters, which is contrary to FIFA statutes. Regrettably, the so called football people do not quote the FIFA statutes when it comes to financing the national teams.
In the corporate world, one’s reputation and credibility are very important and that is why we think the GFA has caused an irreparable damage to our international image. The fact that we are a developing country and, therefore, considered as poor, does not mean we should grab every opportunity without thinking about the consequences on the image of the country. Our football went on it kneels and has started coming back gradually, only for one misjudgement on the part of the GFA to ruin the gains made so far.
The Chronicle is even surprised that the manager of the team (coach) accepted to lead these young boys to the ‘slaughter house’ in Japan, when he knew before leaving Ghana that the team had not prepared well for the international friendly. We have so far recorded Bochum and Japan disasters, but mark our words, the GFA officials would not learn any useful lessons and will repeat the dose in future.