Feature: Ghana's Cup of Shame; What Next?
Nii Ayitey Tetteh
Shame is an emotion, but if ever it was personified, I sure would have a sense of how he or she would look; drooped shoulders, head down, slouched disposition, definitely! Not a pretty sight, but you do get the picture, don’t you?
It may not be a desired state, but shame has a way of nudging us positively when we veer off course. So, you can understand my anticipation when last Wednesday, at the Ghana Football Association (GFA) press conference to address Ghana’s disastrous World Cup outing, I went, eyes wide opened, looking for shame.
I figured, as you may have too, that the GFA officials, led by President Kwesi Nyantakyi and Black Stars’ coach Kwesi Appiah, would use the platform to acknowledge the shame they wreaked upon our dear motherland, exhibit remorse and show us a concrete plan to restore order and move the Black Stars forward.
But no, President Nyantakyi’s posturing was arrogant at best, while “His Doctor-ness”, Kwesi Appiah looked lost, as they tried to dribble journalists with their defensive answers. It seemed there was no shame about the embarrassing issues, on and off field, which befell the team in Brazil. I watched in disbelief as the FA President and his team topped up to brim, the “cup of shame” brought from Brazil, so much so that it overflowed and dripped into the realm of nonchalance. For me, they missed an opportunity to drain the cup of shame on two fronts:
EAT HUMBLE PIE
At the press conference, Mr. Nyantakyi, and his team seemingly apologized to Ghanaians for the Black Stars’ bottom of the table performance in Brazil, but his body language and other statements completely betrayed that “apology”. Instead of genuinely admitting some amount of responsibility for the breakdown of discipline; player revolt, Sulley Muntari slapping a management committee member, Kevin Prince Boateng’s altercation with Kwesi Appiah in camp; the FA shamefully shifted blame onto the players and preposterously requested that, Ghanaians should rather commend them for managing the situation instead of condemning them.
At that moment I shook my head; those were not the sound bites I was expecting. I was expecting Mr. Nyantakyi and team to have eaten humble pie and admitted that they were the ones who sowed the seeds of indiscipline in the Black Stars.
When you go begging a certain Kevin Prince Boateng to play for Ghana, and continually give him exemptions to skip camping in Ghana, bring his personal physiotherapist to camp at the nation’s cost, you set a bad precedent; you sowed in Kevin a sense of entitlement and superiority; that is why when the team gathered in Accra and another exemption was given to Michael Essien to skip the Accra camp in order to move house, it was no surprise that Sulley Muntari also decided to wade into the FA’s largesse by skipping the official travel party from Accra to Holland with the team; when you fail to agree a set figure and ensure timely payment of appearance fees, you breed mistrust; when you succumb to the whims of players by allowing them to dictate amounts and modes of payment of appearance fees, aren’t you over pampering them? At that point, the psychologist with the team should have realized that the psychology of the players on the delay in payment of appearance fees was about respect and not necessarily the cash; they would have bickered even if it was 1,000 dollars. The FA should admit that they were lax with preparation and player conduct during camping by giving these players too much leeway to over step their limits and privileges. These same players play in other environments at club level, why don’t we hear of such misbehavior? Yes player indiscipline shouldn’t be condoned but largely the FA cushioned the environment for such misbehavior. An honest admission is where camping reform will begin rather than this annoying “holier than thou” attitude. Come again Team GFA!
FIRE KWESI APPIAH!
When a coach rates such poor performance by Black Stars in Brazil as good, then you know something is fundamentally wrong. When a coach cannot decipher a basic difference between a left back and a left wing back and continually says Kwadwo Asamoah plays left back at Juventus, then you know his technical ability is questionable.
When a coach has been at post for nearly 2 years and says “you know we have a left back problem”, you are tempted to ask, what the heck did you do about that in those 2 years! What he did is to stifle the Black Stars by stubbornly playing Kwadwo Asamoah at left back when he would have contributed more in midfield.
Oh yes, I know you can sense my frustration at Appiah being head coach. I make no apologies that from day one, I doubted his technical capability. A friend of mine captures it aptly when he opines that Appiah’s appointment was by proximity and not capability. Yes, Appiah was assistant coach but he had never been head coach at the highest level, but Ghanaians had gotten all sentimental with the “appoint one of our own” crusade and Appiah happened to be at the right place at the right time. Nobody, I repeat nobody ever, in assessing his upgrade to head coach ever gave technical reasons why he merited the appointment. All you heard was ‘He is Ghanaian, lets support him”. Well, after 2 major tournaments, lots of technical errors, and lots of games which begged him to prove himself, it is safe enough to say that he falls short. Not one single game, not one, did Appiah ever make major changes or shuffle the pack to turn the game in Ghana’s favour when chasing or losing the game. Supporting the development of a coach is one thing, forcing a square peg to be round when it’s not, is another. Appiah will grow as a coach but our dear Black Stars is too important for this trial and error business. How many tournaments are we waiting to bomb out of before we face the truth that Appiah is not technically astute. Fire him now!!! That alone should drain the cup of shame by half. Surely, unless you think shame is relative, you should be nodding your head this minute, I lie?
firstname.lastname@example.org Follow me on twitter @niithesoccerguy