I can safely bet that each of you out there has written some form of exam or another right? Usually, it is a private affair and the outcome known to the immediate parties; the examinee and examiner.
The furthest the outcome may go are the examinee’s close family and friends.
In exceptional cases, the examinee may be rewarded nationally for distinguished performance or berated for poor performance. Like everyone else, Kwesi Appiah, coach of Ghana’s Black Stars would wish for the former.
So, it wasn’t surprising to find the media landscape awash with Appiah’s intentions and plans to end Ghana’s 30 plus year wait for a 5th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) crown.
This was after Ghana eliminated Malawi to qualify for the 2013 edition to be held in South Africa come January 19 – February 10.
Seriously, how many of you can even recollect vividly Ghana lifting her last trophy in 1982? Not more than 5% I reckon.
One AFCON after the other we have hoped, been fired up only to be disappointed.
If you are one who doesn’t handle disappointments very well, you can be pardoned for joining the AMC.
No it is not a political party, it is a safe refuge and it stands for “Afraid Men’s Club”.
For majority of Ghanaians however, and Kwesi Appiah in particular, AMC membership is not an option.
Victory in South Africa rests heavily on Appiah’s shoulders to succeed where most foreign coaches have failed since 2002, when the last local coach Osam Doudu led the team.
That preparation is key cannot be overemphasised. It starts with a simple ‘to do list’; here is a sneak peek of what I think should definitely be on Appiah’s tablet:
Cease the chopping and changing
I heard Appiah on Radio giving reasons for calling different sets of players for almost all the matches he has been in charge. He mentioned that he wanted to create a competitive atmosphere while having at least 3 different options for every position.
Great point indeed. But I sincerely hope that chopping and changing of personnel ended with the Malawi game. Every potential championship winning team needs tactical and social cohesion.
I would think that Appiah has his coaching philosophy or a particular tactical strategy he wants to adopt as he maps out a winning formula.
That formula would however not be effective if the personnel do not have the requisite time to imbibe it together as a group.
Then again for the strategy to be functional, those players also need to develop a good rapport amongst themselves and with the technical and management team to form one cohesive unit.
Talent alone has never been enough; ask the Black Stars team of the nineties, what the lack of cohesion did to that highly talented team.
So, Mr Appiah, it’s been long since you have been chopping and changing personnel, now go on and stick them together.
Find fullbacks who can defend first and attack second
If finding a decent full back for the Black Stars was a reality show, it would definitely be one of the longest running ever and oh, surely the ratings would have long gone down. Why am I saying so?
Well, ask yourself, aren’t you just tired discussing the apparent lack of decent left full backs and lately right backs in the Black Stars?
It used to be that the Black Stars were lacking at left back since the days of Emmanuel Addoquaye Pappoe who improvised in that role in the lead up to the 2006 World Cup.
A seeming solution was found in Habib Mohammed but he drifted into the skies to be seen no more. The list of suitors has grown long ever since: Hans Sarpei, Rahim Ayew, Massahudu Alhassan, Nana Kwesi Asare, David Addy, Harrison Afful, Abdul Razak Nuhu!
I bet you are out of breadth already. That is how laborious it has been finding a decent left back. Highly surprising for a nation that considers itself a football nation with pedigree.
While Ghana struggled for a left back John Pantsil manned the right back efficiently until recently when lack of playing time and form saw him lose his position to Samuel Inkoom and Daniel Opare.
These 2 players did little to justify the confidence reposed in them; necessitating the recall of big brother Pantsil but the current full backs still do not inspire enough confidence.
I challenge the technical team to find a solution once and for all.
The Stars technical team need to either expand their lenses by giving local players like Richard Kissi Boateng a chance or converting players to undertake the primary duty of defending first.
Any other added attribute of being able to overlap and bomb down the wings in a flamboyant style can be an added bonus.
Ideally, if a regular full back is found, the better, but if scouting fails, then improvisation is another option. In the current set up, Jerry Akaminko can be shifted to handle the left back position; after all, he did so when he played for Heart of Lions.
Same can be done at the right position as well. At the 1992 AFCON, when it was called for, coach Otto Pfister shifted midfielder Stanley Aborah to right back and he efficiently took care of business.
To go another tournament without decent full backs would just be an indictment on the technical team and a situation borne out of pure laziness, because I cannot for all the fufu in kumasi believe that Ghana cannot find just 2 decent full backs.
Identify a distinct playing style
Have you noticed that when watching the Black Stars, you cannot particularly tell which distinct style of play Appiah employs?
Apart from the game versus Lesotho which saw the team attacking in bursts, other games have been patchy with goals being scored out of individual brilliance more than from team set plays.
Maybe the lack of a clear playing style is a function of the lack of consistency of the playing personnel in that the players haven’t had time to assimilate Appiah’s philosophy.
As expected that chopping and changing would cease, Appiah would have a set of players to work with and the team can then play to a recognisable set pattern.
When Milovan Rajevac coached the team, we all knew the team employed a defensive strategy, When Ratomir Dujkovic was in charge, Ghana attacked with the midfield as its driving force.
Which strategy is Appiah employing? I bet you cannot tell either. I am not saying this from a pundit or fan’s point of view, I am sure the players would welcome this clarity the most, so that they do not look lost, confused and all over the pitch the way they have been in the last couple of matches. Or is it that the players have been tactically indisciplined?
If they have, Appiah should be bold to show a strong set of teeth and bite hard to eschew any form of indiscipline that would disturb the rhythm of team tactically and psychologically.
By the time the 2013 AFCON kicks off, we would expect the team to show a distinct playing style woven around its strengths, and then we would know whether the Stars can compete with Africa’s best. Like we say in our local parlance; ‘Appiah, let us see your handwriting’.
Now, it is by no means an assurance that once Appiah checks the boxes on the list, Ghana would end its 30 year drought, however it would put the team in good stead and a lot closer so that touch wood, if Ghana fails, it would not be for lack of effort.
At this point I feel like playing an invigilator and saying to Appiah ‘You have 3 months to complete this test, start work now!’
90 MINUTES NEWSPAPER