Feature: In the Black Stars Cup

Black Stars

Black Stars

By Nii Ayitey Tetteh

As I poured the contents of the flask into the cup, the vapour rose with immense ferocity.  In a rather chilled lounge, the heat emanating from the boiling water was strong enough to cause beads of sweat on my brow.

Such irony!  I wasn’t the biggest fan of coffee but sure, I do “flirt” on occasion. Well, on this occasion, the coffee was rather black and strong so I signaled to the waiter. “I would like some cream please”.

As the waiter made away, I stared into the almost blank screen, I had barely typed anything. Probably, my emotions were getting in the way. I had to find words; words to dissect the rumour gaining currency that ex Black Stars coach, Milovan Rajevac will soon be appointed in a “special” technical capacity to assist substantive coach Kwesi Appiah.

As I searched for an opening, the smell of the coffee sparked a thought; isn’t Ghana brewing a coffee of her own as she prepares for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil? What kind will the Black Stars brew and serve?

Will it be black, strong or creamed up? In other words will Kwesi Appiah’s beans be adequate to fill fans appetite or Serbian Milovan “Milo” Rajevac’s cream is a required topping? The waiter was taking forever, so I reached for the keyboard.

Appiah’s Coffee

Since October 15, 2013, when Ghana beat Egypt 6-1 to ease qualification to the world cup, days have turned into weeks, weeks to months and it is becoming clearer that, that massive win may perhaps, just perhaps have been a fluke.

James Kwesi Appiah has since struggled to convince anybody that he is playing to a particular pattern. As you watch the various teams he has put out; the second leg of the play off in Egypt, against Japan, Turkey and recently Montenegro, a lack of pattern is visible.

You wonder exactly how the Stars are shaped out; is it to play the ball from deep through the channels, the middle or on the wings; is to set out defensively and catch opponents on the counter?

It is true Appiah should be credited for restoring Ghana to an attacking 4-4-2 formation, in which Abdul Majeed Waris plays on top with Asamoah Gyan behind. In as much as this formation produced several goals in the qualifiers, the opposition will be far stronger and tactics will be more exotic at the World Cup. Concerns about Appiah’s tactical acumen when the chips are down, and the stakes are high, seems genuine and outweighs his positives. It will be hard, indeed you will scratch your head to pin point one game where the stars were losing or reeling under pressure and Appiah effected a tactical change that swung the game for the Stars. I bet you will. The coffee you will say is really black and requires a little bit of cream .. ermm no pun intended please.  Just like the sloppy waiter who was taking forever, Milo’s return has not been confirmed yet, but if it is, will Milo be a viable choice?

 Milo’s cream  

Off the top of my head, the one big quality Milo will bring to the Black Stars is sound defensive organization. That kind of set up is what brought Ghana a semblance of glory as the Black Stars narrowly missed the 2010 World Cup semi final, after Gyan’s famous penalty miss in the 122nd minute against Uruguay. In as much as he has been tagged “a defensive coach”, a closer look at his Ghana tenure will reveal that he came by that shape purely by accident. Going into the 2010 Africa Nations Cup in Angola where Ghana won silver, the Black Stars squad was depleted. Injury ruled out key players like John Mensah and Michael Essien while Sulley Muntari was dropped on disciplinary grounds.

So, Ghana went to that tournament with a sizable number of players from the 2009 U-20 World Cup winning team, some of whom were rookies at the senior level. Ghana played Ivory Coast and lost by a heavy 3-1 margin.

Milo tossed the attacking formation and played to the strength of boys who were bursting with youth, power and hunger to succeed. Milo’s strategy was to cede possession and use the wings to counter attack and nick a goal when she gained it.

The industry of Andre “Dede” Ayew and Opoku Agyemang on the wings ensured that Ghana was adequately covered defensively and attack augmented. So was it that Ghana beat Burkina Faso 1-0 and continued with similar score lines for the rest of the tournament and later in the World Cup as well. One goal project it was called, it wasn’t pretty on the eye but it was effective. Indeed, that says a lot about Milo; a practical man, one who would fashion out tactics to meet the exigency of the time.

Well, I had to do a recap to put the analysis into proper perspective because the dynamics has changed since Milo’s first tenure. Back then he was the one calling the shots and in full control.

Kwesi Appiah was a willing assistant who took instructions. Appiah is now the head, how amenable will he be to Milo’s technical advice? Milo back then had players who were hungrier, younger and willing to do anything to succeed including Kevin Prince Boateng.

Today’s team does not have players with similar physical levels and may to be able to execute Milo’s famous defensive strategy adequately. But then again, it could all be in the realm of assumption that he will employ the same strategy. Maybe being the practical man that he is, he will improvise again.

We don’t know. What we know however is that, the circumstances which facilitated his success are very different now and his appointment may not necessarily bode well, indeed, it may elicit power play which may derail the team’s cause.  “Sir, here is your cream please, Sir, Sir”. That was the sloppy waiter calling for my attention. Just like Ghana, I was torn; should I or I shouldn’t top my black coffee…?

niiayitey29@gmail.com    follow me on twitter @niithesoccerguy

(Culled from 90 Minutes)

READERS COMMENTS

  1. South Africa Referee says:

    exciting piece …incisive write up! a good writer of course. my opinion is that, A. I Appiah should be his own man, if he is the one who called for Milo, no problem, anything short of that is a recipe disaster

  2. Ronny says:

    OFFENSIVE 4-3-3 is the winning formation of choice, watch Netherlands play the same formation. Brazil, USA. Germany will all play this same formation. Since the stars want to win, they have to adopt Netherlands offensive 4-3-3 formation. Ghana’s offensive and explosive midfielder Bennard Kumordzi is a genius mastermind at this formation with KRC Genk in Belgium. Bennard is 27 years and in top form. GFA should consider including BENNARD KUMORDZI TO PLAY AGAINST THE Netherlands. Ghana must pull together all talented strikers to be able to demolish Germany in this World Cup

  3. cy says:

    Well written article. I think the black coffee should be topped with some cream because it will only add some flavor and sweetness to it, but is up to kwasi appiah to have it black or add some cream. Either ways, we are all watching. Good luck to the coach and the black stars.

  4. This is baloney. Let’s call spade a spade, Kwasi Appiah is tactically bankrupt. This is because he studied under this Milo guy. This will be the story of the blind leading the blind. If this Milo guy is as good as you guys say he is, how come he has been kicked out of all the jobs he has held since leaving Ghana? We had a good team when he coached Ghana. He rode on the players experience and good quality. If he was that good, how come he has not been able to duplicate that success anywhere after Ghana . Stop throwing dust into our eyes. It’s pathetic Kwasi Appiah has let us all down. But simply put, I think what Kwasi Appiah lacks is confidence in himself.

  5. You all are acting like Coaches ,Leave the coach alone ,let him be.The WC has not even started already we are killing his confidence with too know articles like this.Hope AA doesnt read this nonsense.

  6. selfmade says:

    @ mr writer…. Counter attacking is for underdog teams and Ghana has grown pass this tactics!! Teams such as Ghana and Greece has used this tactics in major tournaments and it has paid off but I ll beg to differ that against WELL ORGANIZED TEAM IT DOESNT WORKED that’s why bringing milo back is completely bogus!! We are no more unfancied side again and we have to stop this Milo tactics!! We have to moved from reactive football to more pro active football!! The problem with breaking quickly and exploitating spaces when the opposition is high up the pitch is that, u need the opposition to come to u and if they don’t, your GAMEPLAN BECOMES NULL AND VOID and this is where u need GUILE AND CREATIVITY TO UNLOCK THE OPPOSITION PACKED DEFENCE!! This is the main reason why we have to move away from Milos pack the bus philosophy and go back to our traditional philosophy of using creativity, vision and pure passing game to unlock packed defense!! Milo has left and we have to leave his poor tactics alone and evolved!! What can then be done to rectify this stiffing tactics!! PROVOKING!! Using the ball as a bait to provoke the opposition after all its the ball they are looking for and we have the cleverness to do this but we have refused to do it!! Our holding midfielders are decent on the ball but they lack technical quality or imagination to cause the opposition problems! This milo tactics of passing the ball direct can be easily dealt with any oragnised team who refused to come to u and egs are ghaba vs Botswana and recently Ghana vs Burkina Faso!!! We have to start to open up tight defences!! The second option is PLAYERMAKING!!! GHANA NEEDS A SERIOUS CENTRAL PLAYERMAKER AND HOW LONG ITS GOING TO TAKE FOR US TO SEE THIS!! Ghana has three options in attacking midfield role for 4-2-3-1 via muntari, k asa and kpb!!! Muntari is all round but hardly connects the midfield with the attack!! Kpb when he was with ac Milan was used as no ten to connect the midfield and the attack and he was good!! Again watched all the videos of ghana WC games and see how he play when he switches to a playermaker!!! We need to fix and stop using milo counter attacking tactics which ll not worked at the WC!!

  7. UnitedstatesofAfrica says:

    if you ask me he should fuck the cream off and add another scoop of black coffee.. We can do this for Africa with Africans, we don’t always need to look to Europeans to get shit done.. all im saying is if we have already won the u20s world cup with a black coach why the hell cant we do it at the WC.. im sure we can find a black technical man to support the black stars..

  8. UnitedstatesofAfrica says:

    THE NAME IS BLACK STARS NOT BLACK STARS WITH A LITTLE BIT OF CREAM.. WE SHOULD REP THE NAME TO ITS FULL EXTENT.. BLACK STARS

  9. keith from germany says:

    Bro @praemonitus you got it all wrong on the milo issue.
    Milo wasnt successful because the gulf is not knowm to be a soccer powerhouse.
    You are hundred percent right he failed in qatar but frankly speakinf u cant compare qatar to ghana football.
    Look let me give u an example.
    Carlos alberto perreira won the worldcup with brazil in 1994 and afterwards he went to train saudi arabia were ge failed massively due to lack of talebt.
    He even said that the arabs have the resources but the talents aint available.
    In the year 2010 he coached the bafana bafana during the wc but he also failed massively with them.
    Ask yourself why did the current bayern münchen trainer pep guardiola rejected the qatar national team for 20 million € per anum?
    Because he knows that they arabs aint got talent.
    And those people saying that milo is greedy,all of u got your facts wrong.
    After the wc in 2010,milos contract runned out and he even coached the blackstars in the month og september in an african cup of nation qualifier in swaziland where ghana won by 3-0.
    Before that game his contract has runned out but he did it because he loves ghana and the Gfa are supposed to blamed for not meeting his demands because milo was willing to do the job.
    Alot of hypicrites are here on this sites because you guys will have done the same thing if someone offer u more money than your current company.
    Milo is a great tactician.

  10. Fiifi, Berlin says:

    Till now the “coffee” has not been black, what the writer calls “black” has indeed been “cream”!- AA has been taking courses and and having “advice” from Man. City. to improve his skills and also to manage the BS! AA knows his weaknesses and strenght and HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN ASK FOR ASSISTANCE! HE KNOWS WHAT SORT OF ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE HE NEEDS! HE ALSO KNOWS WHERE TO GET THAT ASSISTANCE OR “ADVICE” FROM! Apparently the technical team around him lack this “special” knowledge or experience, or would NOT BE FAIR AND OBJECTIVE ENOUGH in their assessment and contribution, that is why he may be contemplating on calling upon Milo into his technical team! For now he has not come out openly to put forward his request.Who knows, perhaps he has a very big surprise up his sleeves!

  11. selfmade says:

    Arabs ain’t got no talent!! This is one of the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard!!! Are Tunisians not Arab? Are egyptians not Arabs? Are Libyans not Arabs? Are morrocans not Arabs? Didn’t saudia Arab beats ghana by 5 goals? AL AHLY is an Arabian team!! Raja Casablanca not Arabian team? Zamalek not an Arabian team? Come people should know better!!! MILO IS NO TACTICIAN!!

  12. keith from germany says:

    Bro selfmade thats your point of view.maybe i should have said that those countries like oman,qatar,saudi,uae,bahrain,kuwait aint soccer countries.
    So selfmade why are u not commentting on the carlos alberto perreia issue?
    Because u know that u dont have the evidence to back your statement.
    I standy by my statement that even if u send mourihno to qatar he wont achieve anything becuz these gulfcountries aint that good.

  13. selfmade says:

    @ bro Keith…. Saudia Arabia is a giant or powerhouse in Asian football! Saudia Arabia has been to the WC four times the first been in 94 and they have made the round of 16 in 1994 which means that when Saudis were world football power, ghanaians were watching the global theater from television!! They joined FIFA in 1956 before ghana!!! They have been to the ASIAN CUP 8 TIMES and has won it THREE TIMES in 84, 86 and 96 and this should tell anyone that saudia is a continental giants! Saudia Arabia has been to the CONFEDERATION CUP FOUR TIMES beginning from 92 and their best results has been RUNNERS-UP and my question is this, has ghana been to the CONFEDERATION CUP BEFORE? How can anyone tagged such a team as not having talents? Saudis Arabia is considered as one of the most successful national team in Asia so come again mister!!! Milo is not good enough and even considering that the- saudid gave him more money should have made him succeed but his pathetic tactics choked again!!

  14. keith from germany says:

    Selfmade u havent answered my question on the carlos alberto pereira issue.
    Why wasnt he able to achieve with saudi arabia the same fate with he achieved with brazil?
    alot of european trainers that had good spells with various european teams went to the gulf and failed massively.
    Milo has done alot for ghana soccer and we have to give him the due respect he deserves.
    I guess you are satisfied with the way AA is playing.
    No concept,no game plan,no tactical build up and absolutely no cohesion.
    I can see you are satisfied with mediocre stuffs.
    I personaly dont have anything against AA as a human because is a quiet gentleman and very humble but u have a problem against his coaching abilities.
    I will salute AA if he proves me wrong because we all want a better blackstars

  15. selfmade says:

    Qatar has also won the Asian cup TWO TIMES and has qualified numerous times though they are yet to qualify to the WC!! If some coaches can make use of the limited talents in saudia Arabia and qatar to win the Asian cup and qualify Saudis to the WC conservatively whiles milo couldn’t succeed with these two countries then it means he has failed and is no tactician!!

  16. selfmade says:

    @ Keith… In your posts u made mention of the fact that middle east countries such as Oman, uae, Saudis,Kuwait, Bahrain ain’t soccer nations and when i diffused those arguments with undisputable facts u have limited your scope to Carlos Alberto parreira and that u want me to ans u on why he couldn’t succeed with Saudis Arabia!! Carlos Alberto parreira who couldn’t succeed with saudis was ABLE TO TAKE KUWAIT TO THE WC IN 1982 WHEN HE TOOK CHARGE IN 1978!! U said those countries ain’t soccer nations but carlos took charge of Kuwait and qualify them to the WC and this should tell u the sort of coach milo is!!! He was fired by the saudis and again fired by the qatar!! He failed with the saudis but proved himself by qualifying Kuwait of all countries to the WC!! Furthermore, this iconic coach revolutionized football in the middle east!! Coaches like parreira even if they failed in their assignment, their teams benefits a lot from his technical acumen!! Parreira was once the coach of ghana and though he didn’t win any major trophy for us, he revolutionized our football and sir Cecil Jones attequafio is a living witness!! By the way how is AA MEDICROE?

  17. selfmade says:

    Parreira was fired by the saudis but he was able to qualify another gulf team to the WC something which milo couldn’t do!! Fired by- saudis and again fired by qatar!!!

  18. selfmade says:

    I want forumites to read this article by http://WWW.ZONALMARKING.NET with the headlines as ‘ No longer underdogs, ghana needs to become a more attacking force’.. This article was written in 2011 when milo was in charge but today AA has been able to transform our team into an ATTACKING FORCE and this was evident during the WC by the number of goals we scored! All we need is a bit of organization at the back and we can use MAXWELL KONADU FOR THAT!! Bring milo back ll mean going back to packing the bus and ONE GOAL PROJECT!!

  19. The only secret to a better and stronger black stars is making our league very attractive nd upgrading our facilities. Ghana has alot of taleny.There are even some of this talents in villages who need to be given a chance.Our football administrators need to be trained.Because its sad listening to this administrators expecially those administering our local league.

  20. Jibrin Mohammed Muntaka says:

    It is sad that coach AA should lose his confidence mid stream.This started manifesting after the WC qualifier against Egypt.He has not bn able to win a match since then.AA has bn observed to have tournament fright and the earlier he comes off it n be bold the better for us.He should take a cue from his assitantMaxwell Konadu as well as from Sellas Tetteh.The talents are there what we need is organization.AA has lost completely confidence in himself.Football is all about guts.Milo will cannot give it.He will simly come and take the glory,it is a pity.

  21. William says:

    I do recall that Ghana made some impressive strides during both tourneys in the article. However, I’d like to note that the time and seasons have come on these players. The will and determination of the yester-years will be somewhat lacking. I do believe that in order to make any meaningful strides in the imminent world cup, morale should be boosted massively and the confidence of the players should rise. Otherwise we will surely come home quicker.