In the wilderness, creatures of all sizes carry distinctive features that set them apart. The lions, with their mighty roar in the jungle, are easily identified, while birds soaring across the sky are distinctly different from sea creatures. Even the ant is recognized for its inner drive to gather and preserve food for the rainy season.

Similarly, football in Ghana has undergone various transformations over the years. Victoria Park in Cape Coast, where early pioneers of the game held training exercises, was renowned for its well-kept grounds used for official ceremonies.

The Cape Coast Government Boys’ School in the early 1900s had a special aura, particularly during their evening training sessions. Local communities began forming football clubs, laying the groundwork for a football culture that would flourish in the years to come. Pride, passion, and a sense of belonging to a clan or ethnicity were deeply intertwined with the sport, imbuing it with honour. Identity encapsulates the unique characteristics and qualities that define individuals, groups, or even species.

The lingering question of how Ghana’s football DNA, fostered by the Football Association, will manifest in both national and club teams has been a topic for passionate supporters. What criteria will coaches of the various national teams follow? Was the football DNA book launch merely a public relations gimmick by the GFA to deflect from criticism? Let us take a break from these questions for now.

Identifiable Football DNA Across the World
England have long been considered the pacesetters in football, commercially, politically, and emotionally. Despite football's diverse phases, the myth of its invention somewhere in Asia and the acute descriptions marking the British as the sole owners of the beautiful game prevail. However, subtle traces of its execution have influenced various parts of the continent.

Soccer's precursor in the 1920s, when Uruguay won two consecutive Olympic gold medals, was described by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano as the Second Discovery of America. He wrote, “The English had perfected the long pass and the high ball, but these disinherited children from far-off America didn’t walk in their fathers’ footsteps. They chose to invent a game of close passes directly to the foot, with lightning charges of rhythm and high-speed dribbling.”

Spain has "Tiki-Taka," featuring short, intricate passing to find the right moment for a penetrative pass that opens up the backline for a goal attempt. The Netherlands are known for "Total Football," where players are adaptable to any position or role on the field. Italy embraced the "Catenaccio" style, with a predominantly defensive organization but swift counterattacks to surprise the opposition. Germany's "Gegenpressing" emphasizes an immediate attempt to win back possession after losing the ball, rather than regrouping defensively. France's "Carré Magique" combines street football with an organized academy system, producing players with magical abilities.

In South America, football has been intertwined with culture since its introduction. This fusion has led to periods of dominance by South American players and nations worldwide. It is no surprise that three South American nations have won half of all World Cups played so far. Fans are captivated by the creativity, flow, flair, tenacity, and completeness of teams like Brazil and Argentina.

Of course, these theories are not absolute. Despite having one of the world's best football philosophies, the Netherlands have never won a World Cup. Other nations, such as Nigeria and Cameroon, have shown they can challenge traditional powerhouses like Brazil and Argentina. Spain's victory over the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final, using Dutch-inspired methods, further emphasizes the dynamic nature of football tactics and strategies.

Ghana’s style
Zooming in on improving player development, whether in Ghana or elsewhere, there's a pressing need to rethink our approach to nurturing the next generation of football talents, akin to the likes of Baba Yara, Aggrey-Fynn, Addo Odametey, and others. It is evident that all successful teams, be it club or national level, possess a distinctive style, shaped by their football culture.

For instance, Spain's recognizable style needed adjustments to secure victory in the 2008 European Championship after a 44-year gap between titles. The Netherlands, too, known for their attractive football, must balance style with winning. Similarly, when Dunga revamped Brazil's approach, emphasizing defence and organization, he recognized that relying solely on Brazil's traditional flair was not enough for tournament success.

Ghana, however, have struggled to define their football identity despite a rich history. Despite a series of foreign coaches dating back to 1958, the country has yet to establish a clear style of play. This has led to confusion and wasted resources. While trying to emulate other nations, we overlooked our unique football culture and the strengths of our players.

We are Ghanaians, not Brazilians or Germans. Our football culture is distinct, and our style should reflect that. It is time to draw from our attributes and traits. While it’s challenging to pinpoint a definitive Ghanaian style, we can identify with key attributes such as athleticism, positive attitude, hard work, coachability, football intelligence, skill and a fierce desire to win.

Ghanaian footballers are known for their ability to meet the high demands of the game, whether physical, technical, tactical, or psychosocial. These qualities make international coaches eager to work with Ghanaian players. Let us not forget that José Mourinho, one of the game's greatest managers, once had players like Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Baba Rahman, and Afena Gyan among his ranks. This is a testament to the quality of Ghanaian footballers.

However, despite our potential, many see Ghana as a sleeping giant in African and global football. Research shows that the physical demands on today's players have increased significantly over the past 50 years. They run longer, harder, faster, and cover more ground, with players now covering over 20 kilometres per game on average. This increased athleticism should be an advantage for Ghanaian teams.

While Ghanaians often possess the natural technical ability, we must still focus on improving the tactical aspects of the game. We need to identify and emphasize our strengths. The key question remains: what style of play is best suited for Ghanaian teams? Do we have a preferred formation or playing DNA to match the abundance of talent our nation possesses?

These questions demand answers as we continue to develop our footballing prowess on the continent and beyond.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.