Black Stars head coach, Milovan Rajevac

I am not the best judge in matters of soccer: in all my adult life, I have been to the Accra Sports Stadium thrice – twice for musical shows and once for a gospel crusade.

My ignorance, however, should not disqualify me from asking our Ghana Football Association (GFA) how I can tell a bad coach when I see one, and from observing that what we are doing now amounts to trying to brush off soldier ants from off us while still dwelling in a colony of them.

Was Akunnor a bad coach? From the media commentaries so far since his sack, I have come close to pronouncing the current GFA guilty. The only reason I cannot is that I have not listened to the GFA side of the story, especially a GFA whose Ex-co includes Randy Abbey, one commentator whose integrity and judgement on issues I have no reason to distrust.

In his own interest, therefore, he must pressurize the GFA to come out soonest to answer the following:

One, is it true that C. K. did not have a free hand in his selections? Was the GFA an over-bearing lord? Specifically, is it true that a number of players from local teams belonging to GFA members or foreign-based players whose agents are friends of GFA members were foisted on CK? The president, Kurt Okraku’s explanation is that the FA, being CK’s employers, feels that the coach’s list should be subject to discussion.

Question is, were there instances when some GFA members insisted or even suggested that particular players be included in CK’s selection? Does the GFA interfere in, or insist on discussing selections by foreign coaches? 

Natural justice is that if you contaminate the colour of ink with which to answer questions in an examination that requires answers in blue ink, you don’t blame me for failing. When coach Jones Attuquayfio sent a Black Stars side made up of Hearts of Oak players to Nigeria in a crucial decider, he was judged by the result.  

Everyone who watched the Black Stars recently against Ethiopia and South Africa came away convinced that either the coach was totally clueless or that the players were not national team material. Not only was their play patternless, devoid of the hand of a tactician, but, as well and most worrying, the quality of play belonged to the standard of a secondary school team. 

How can a coach be blamed for this sub-standard if some of the players were not his choice?

Secondly, is it true that Akunnor was never given the car assigned to him? Also, was his salary in arrears by many months?

Another worry for many Ghanaians is the total period for camping prior to major international assignments. People have described the current arrangement as “afrafradom”, a hurried collection of players, some of whom are in Division 3 clubs overseas.

In musical circles, they are known as “hyebo-hyebo” call-up of instrumentalists, or session-men. “Hyebo-hyebo” works because the quality of professionalism of the session-men is very high, so high that in the 1977 Second World African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in Nigeria, the great Steve Wonder spent less than a day rehearsing with the Osibisa Group prior to mounting the stage for this top-liner. They had never played together but the session-men were top-notch professionals.

To avoid the situation where a coach spends less than a week to put a team together, should we, as proposed by Frank Apeagyei (“Football Encyclopaedia”) revisit the Ohene Djan concept of Republicans, a permanent national team made up of the best players selected from the top clubs? 

But people ask: was the Black Stars team that went far in the German (2006) and South African (2010) World Cup tournaments not also made up of “afrafradom”? Answer to the question, says Frank Apeagyei, lay in the quality of the players, each of whom was a world-class player in peak form.

Graphic Sports Editor Maurice Quansah, however, points out that, unlike those Ohene Djan days, nearly 98% of today’s players are foreign-based, ruling out prolonged camping. He thinks we can tweak Apeagyei’s suggestion by having a standing team of local players to which we add a few foreign-based players to rehearse the coach’s strategy in the event of an impending match or tournament.

Should we continue to spend $50,000 a month on a coach when we have no Black Stars plan? Can we call time on our participation in international tournaments until we have answered our critical questions? Without answers to these questions, Milo will need a magic wand to qualify Ghana for the World Cup.

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