Who cares about the World Cup anyways? We can miss it if we want. After all, it has never been our pride of place, plus, it doesn’t take any special effort to miss the world cup. All it takes is three time-tested and proven steps.
Facts are sacred, truth hurts
Before I jump to these steps, has it ever occurred to you that since Ghana joined FIFA over five decades ago, Ghana has played only a paltry four World Cup games? Truth hurts and truth well told, hurts even harder.
Many pundits believe our 2006 World Cup berth was a fluke. They argue that the fact that soccer minnows like Togo and Angola qualified as well shows clearly that it was one of those freak World Cup qualifications.
Not many Ghanaians will agree with this line of argument though. But the facts speak too painfully for themselves that Ghana has done nothing to be a respected world football powerhouse. For instance, Ghana has won nothing at the senior level since 1982. Sadly, Ghana’s best performance on the African continent since 1992 was at Ghana 2008, where with all the partisan home support we could only manage third place. Even at the junior level where claim to have won laurels, the last time we won a cup was over a decade ago at Ecuador 1995 U-17 World Cup.
So why have we always claimed to be a football nations and yet do not get anywhere. No one can argue that we have not won laurels because of lack of talents – that argument will fly in the face of the evidence. Since 1957, every generation of the Black Stars have had enough potential to win the World Cup.
So what have we been doing wrong?
While I cannot claim to know all that is wrong, I know of three of our favorite actions which we have religiously followed and have successfully met our goals of going nowhere.
STEP ONE: Hire a useless coach
A useless coach is one who does not understand the cultural milieu Ghanaian football. He is one whose passion does not measure up to what it takes to advance the Ghanaian course. He does not have a good appreciation of the needs of the country and he certainly does not have the experience to manage the Black Stars.
History is littered with so many of such useless coaches hired by the Ghana Football Association. Just imagine this. Ghana needs a draw away from home against Lybia, to be comfortably move to the next stage of the 2006 World Cup Qualification. Game on! Ghana’s bench is richly stocked with a team of coaches worth millions of dollars per annum. They watch as Lybia outmuscle, outpace and outplay Ghana for 90 solid minutes without a change in plans.
E. K. Afranie will never do this! Sir. Cecil Jones Atuquayefio will not do this! Will Sir Alex Fergusson do this? Will Rafa Benitez do this? Even out-of-favour Sellas Tetteh will not do this. But true to our trusted tradition, we had FA officials and journalists claiming we should not blame the coach because he does not know the players. Indeed!
STEP TWO: Let the useless coach dream up a useless formation
Every country has its culture. No country will get anywhere without holding firm to its own culture. Ghana is a 4-4-2 country. Period! When our players are being groomed, they are taught to fit into the culture of 4-4-2 in Ghana. No matter the variation; whether 4-4-2 diamond or the traditional 4-4-2, Ghana plays better with 4-4-2. Every useless coach Ghana ever hired has attempted to change this formation. The consequences have never been pleasant.
Claude Le Roy attempted the 4-5-1 and failed woefully. According to post-World Cup statistics, with 4-4-2, Ghana has played 9 games, won 8, and lost 1. With 4-5-1, Ghana has played 5, won none, lost 5 and drawn 1. Like someone said, men lie, women lie, statistics doesn’t.
Instead of learning, Milovan Rajevac wants to follow in Leroy’s steps. So it was that he dreamt of a 4-5-1 variation (4-2-3-1) against Lybia. Anyone who watched Lybia disgrace Ghana on Friday 5th September clearly saw two things. First, Ghana does not have the players for this useless formation. Secondly, our players did not know what to do with their new roles and it was clear that the coach did not spend time to explain their roles to them.
Only a useless coach will not take his time to investigate the strengths and weakness of his team before putting pen to paper. Our tradition of hiring useless coaches does not seem to have ended at all.
STEP THREE: Let the useless coach select useless players to play his useless formation
Formations don’t count for anything when a coach has useless players. A useless player is one who is not ready to play on a given day, whether due to fear of injuries or for whatever reason. A useless player is one who doesn’t have what it takes to play the coach’s role. He is usually technically bankrupt and often time cannot even hold up a position in his club.
Too many useless players have been lined up for many many important Ghanaian games. Clearly, several of the players lined up against Lybia were useless. It appears to me that Milovan cooked up the formation and some other people selected the players.
Recognizing their uselessness on the day, they are reported to have appologized to the coach. Absolutely useless footballers… and we want to qualify to the World Cup?
The Arithmetic Tradition Goes on
So now, we have been reduced to our usual mathematical calculation of our chances to get to the next stage of the World Cup qualification. If we beat Lesotho and Lybia draws with Gabon, then we will qualify. If we cannot sail through this cheap first round, how do we possibly expect to qualify to the World Cup from a tougher group in the next stage?
Welcome to Ghana.