Congratulations to Coach Kwasi Appiah and his new breed of young technical brains for booking Black Stars a ticket to the Cameroun 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroun. As things stand now, Ghana have technically qualified for AFCON 2019, unless FIFA decides to reinstate Sierra Leone.
Even then, Ghana might not be affected much since they have not gained any point yet from Sierra Leone in their six points from three games, same as Group F leaders, Kenya, who lost away to the Leone Stars but got four points from Ethiopia and three from Ghana.
While the Walias of Ethiopia are effectively out after their 0-2 home defeat to Ghana yesterday, all the Black Stars need is a comfortable home win in the last qualifier on March 22 next year to topple the Harambee Stars of Kenya and finish as group leaders.
For me, Sunday’s sweet victory was motivated by last Saturday’s surprise visit to the team by President Nana Akufo-Addo, who was attending the AU Summit in Addis Ababa. I know how much such strategic visits means to the players. Much more than money, what these players often look out for is recognition, respect and acceptance.
Besides that, I am happy for Kwasi Appiah because he has proved that he knows what he is about. For instance, how he reintroduced the Ayew brothers into the team after a year’s absence and went ahead to start both of them ahead of substantive skipper, Asamoah Gyan, speaks volumes of his quality as a leader.
At the end of the day, that risk paid off as Andre Ayew led the team to victory, courtesy two first half goals by Jordan Ayew that vindicated the striker himself, as well as the coach. Jordan really proved his critics wrong because, prior to his call-up, he had had a torrid time with Crystal Palace in the English Premiership without a goal all season.
Who knows, this could be the lifeline he had been waiting for to regain his scoring form for both club and country. Beyond that, the decision by Kwasi Appiah to make Dede the captain of the side, coupled with starting Jordan instead of a more experienced Gyan, clearly showed that the Stars coach held no personal grudge against the two brothers as some people wanted the whole world to believe when they were sidelined in previous games.
This underscores the need for Ghanaians to throw our weight behind the coach, irrespective of the players he selects for matches. It is interesting how some Ghanaians pretend they want results more than the coach. That is a fallacy, especially where Kwasi Appiah is also a full-blooded Ghanaian who wants to make a mark for himself and his country as a coach.
Come to think of it, the history Coach Appiah made in 2014 by becoming the first ever Ghanaian to take the Black Stars to the FIFA World Cup still remains in the record books. Why then should anybody think that he will not be motivated to achieve his target of winning Ghana’s fifth AFCON title in 37 years? At least, the Kwasi Appiah I know is focused on making it big again in his second stint.
I was, therefore, glad to see the spirit of unity which made the Stars tick in the past return to the team right from their training camp in Kenya to Ethiopia. That high team spirit, coupled with the assembly of high performing players with the right attitude, can only give the nation hope of a brighter future.
My only advice to the Normalisation Committee of the GFA, headed by my old time friend Dr Kofi Amoah, is to jealously guard against any tendency which can threaten the current mood in camp. We can only build on the gains from now on till we reach the Promised Land. With less than five months to finish their mandate, the Committee still has some work to do, including supervising the team’s final qualifier against Kenya next March.
I also wish to draw the attention of Dr Amoah and his team to be wary of bootlickers whose modus operandi is to pretend as if they are holier than the Pope. Doc, I can assure you that you will receive many such calls and might also meet some of such characters face to face. The stock in trade of these sycophants is to sing your praises always so they could always be in your good books.
Perhaps, former GFA president Kwesi Nyantakyi might have a word or two to share with you in that regard because they did it to him. For a clue, watch out for such betrayers from a cartel of football administrators and the media.
Finally, the Committee should do all in its power to avoid what happened to the Black Stars in Nairobi since we have gone past that stage. I can state for a fact that the team got stranded in Nairobi without any FA official accompanying them, which is not the norm. Let’s please rectify it and ensure that that doesn’t recur to the detriment of the team’s ambitions.
Again, inside sources say some players were compelled to pick taxis from the airport to the team’s hotel, a situation which could have been avoided had an official been detailed to be in charge of that beat. I vividly recall how a similar poor travel arrangement during an international friendly in the US prior to the Brazil World Cup affected the team negatively, leading to a player revolt later on.
Also, the late arrival of some of the players on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, due to the way the travel arrangements might have been handled, took a day off from the coach’s training programme. Obviously, that is also not funny for any serious coach.
From my 23 years active practice in this noble profession, I have come to understand that some things that seem to be nothing to laymen and officialdom are a big deal for Black Stars players due to their exposure to international best practices.
I hope the Normalisation Committee will find a place in their files for these humble suggestions in the supreme interest of mother Ghana.
Source: Ebo Kwaitoo| Graphic.com.gh