Following Ghana’s inability to pick a win in two CHAN games so far, the debate has heated up about Milovan and his CHAN team. Some folks have argued argued vehemently for Milovan; claiming the Serbian doesn’t have quality materials to work with. They mention that the domestic league appear depleted of good talent. The few good players in last season have joined the exodus for greener pastures.
So, with the little left, Milovan have had to literally squeeze water out of the rocks to build a formidable 23-man CHAN squad. It thus doesn’t come as a surprise that Ghana is struggling to win a mere CHAN game. They spice up their argument with a simple question: When was the last time a Ghanaian club, with local players won anything in Africa? These arguments seem to sound logical. After I watched all Ghana’s two CHAN games twice, I am convinced that while Milovan needs to do more to improve Ghana’s lot, the capabilities of some of those 23 players in team Ghana for CHAN is doubtful.
Reflecting on some of the poor quality players Milovan selected to CHAN led me to begin to think of Milovan in a different light. He first grants an interview to Ghana’s most credible newspaper The Daily Graphic and says: “Only the best players and those who will give of their maximum will make it into the Black Stars because it is a privilege and an honour to play for the nation.”
As though he meant every word in that interview, he goes on to assemble 40 player; categorized into nine positions – Goalkeepers, Center backs, Defensive midfielders, Attacking midfielders, Full backs, Left midfielders, Right midfielder and Strikers.
Short-listed Forty Payers:
Goalkeepers: Philimon McCarthy, Osei Boateng, Ernest Sowah, Dan Adjei
Right Full Back: Samuel Inkoom, Emmanuel Ansong , Harrison Afful
Left Full Back: Habib Mohammed, Samuel Enzimaba, Richard Annan
Central Defence: Ofosu Appiah, Godfred Yeboah, Kofi Agyare, Osei Bonsu, Isaac Owusu, Hannan Giwah
Defensive Midfield: Daniel Yeboah, Kofi Abanga, Agyemang Badu, Francis Mantey
Attacking Midfield: Jordan Opoku, Edmond Owusu Ansah, Frank Boateng, Sam Ayew
Right Midfield: Ekow Benson, Samed Oppong, Issah Saliu, Richard Mpong
Left Midfield: Francis Coffie, Kassenu Ghandi, Ebo Andoh
Strikers: Francis Coffi, Gamdi Kasenu, Ebo Andoh,Yaw Antwi, Alex Asamoah, Kojo Poku, Richard Atiga, Latif Salifu, Samuel Affum, Eric Gawu,Owusu Ampomah
While the 40-man base appeared a laudable idea, it pointed out a certain confusion in the technical set up of the Black Stars. For instance, Kofi Abanga is an attacking midfielder, the farthest back he can fall is central midfield. Also, is Francis Mantey a striker, defensive midfielder or an attacking midfielder? Seeing that in the final squad he features as a striker although he was called to camp to compete with defensive midfielders. In the end 21 of the 40 players who justified their inclusion and two mystery players, Iddrisu Yahaya and Stephen Manu made the squad
Final Ghana squad:
Goalkeepers: Philemon McCarthy, Daniel Adjei and Ernest Sowah
Defenders: Samuel Inkoom, Ofosu Appiah, Michael Osei Bonsu, Iddrisu Yahaya, Harrison Afful, Isaac Owusu and Mohammed Habib
Midfielders: Jordan Opoku, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Francis Coffie, Daniel Yeboah, Edmund Owusu-Ansah, Sam Ayew Yeboah, Rahim Ayew, Charles Asampong Taylor and Ebo Andoh
Strikers: Kwadwo Poku, Yaw Antwi, Francis Mantey and Stephen Manu
A critical look at the squad reveals that meritorious domestic performance is not a dominant criterion for selection. There are three main issues arising from this blatant neglect of merit – better players have been ignored, inactive players have found their way to the team and there are strikers who simply cannot score
Left in the cold
There is no gain saying that this far, Obed Ansah, Accra Hearts of Oaks attacking midfielder is the best player in Ghana. In spite of his diminutive body Obed Ansah has outperformed all the shortlisted players this season, scoring 7 goals out of 10 games and creating at least half of Hearts of Oak’s 16 goals. No attacking midfielder in the CHAN team today measures up to his imposing credibility this season. But alas, Milovan has forgotten his promise of inviting only the best. Obed Ansah did not even make the top 40. Now, Ghana is struggling to create goals. There is no point to have three goal keepers when Ghana could have used one more goal creator and scorer.
What with the inactive players
Charles Taylor and Harrison Afful have stepped up big for Ghana in times past. However, I do not recall when and where they both played 90 minutes of active competitive football in the last 3 months. How they made it to become CORE members of Ghana’s squad is surprising. Certainly, these are not the best we have. Once again, Milovan’s job is questioned!
Milovan enjoys fantasizing about playing one striker. Fair enough, if you will play one striker, why don’t you choose the best? Out of the 10 games played this season, Ghana’s main CHAN strikers Yaw Antwi, Kwadwo Poku and Francis Mante are not among the top 13 goal scorers. I can hold brief for Poku and Mantey. They come with extra skills. While Poku possesses pace, Mantey is on record to be among the best goal creators in the domestic league. But Yaw Antwi…there is no reason why he should be in the squad, let alone play ahead of the others.
With this tendency of not picking only the best and active players, I do not think the Milovan yay-sayers can totally blame Ghana’s poor CHAN turn out on the players (as has been suggested in some corners), afterall, they did not select themselves and did not ask to be chosen when there are better options.
The results of these inconsistency in Ghana’s technical set up is clear for all of us to see. If Ghana is to achieve anything under Milovan, then it is time to remind him to do proper assessment of the players he selects before putting a Ghana shirt on them. As it stands now, he could have done better.