Getting to the end of the year 2010, the question of whether or not Ghanaian coaches were ready to represent Ghana at the highest level of football was continually posed. People who favoured Ghanaian coaches were quick to mention that all the four international cups Ghana had won at the senior level were masterminded by Ghanaian coaches. They buttressed their arguments by indicating that 2 out of the 3 youth cups Ghana had won were orchestrated by Ghanaian coaches; Sam Ardey in 1995 and Sellas Tetteh in 2009. Even the 1991 U-17 tournament winning squad were prepared by E.K. Afranie, only to be replaced in the last minute by German import Otto Pfister.
Those who are against giving the senior national team to Ghanaian coaches have said that these coaches are averse to upgrading their knowledge of the game to modern trends. Others have accused them of being completely clueless. Still, others say they have mostly tarnished their confidence by taking bribes from footballers, to the extent that they have lost control over their big money players. They have consistently called on Ghanaian coaches to prove their worth.
Herbert Addo has, what I consider, the biggest opportunity to prove the critics of Ghanaian coaches wrong as he leads Ghana’s Black Stars to the CHAN tournament at Sudan from February 4-25, 2011. The experience Herbert Addo brings to this job is quite decent in spite of his recent failure with Kumasi Asante Kotoko. Since the 1978, only two clubs have won the Ghanaian league title apart from Hearts of Oak and Kotoko; Goldfields (in 1993 to 1996) and Aduana Stars in 2009. Both of these teams were coached by Herbert Addo. The hardiness of the African terrain game cannot be new to Herbert Addo. Heading Goldfields in the early to mid 1990s, Hearts of Oak in the late 1990s and the CHAN Black Stars, Herbert has come face to face with some of Africa’s tough squads at both club and international levels.
With such depth in experience, one can only expect that Addo knows what he is about going to CHAN 2011. The beauty of time however is that as it passes; it allows us to take another look at our decisions to access whether they were in our best intersects.
On this logic I take another look at Ghana’s CHAN 2011 squad. What are the strengths in depth of the various departments of the team and who could have augmented the squad.
GOALKEEPERS: Addo was spot on with his selection. Adjei, Amoako and Adams are among the best shot stoppers in Ghana today. Each of the goalkeepers comes with a unique quality. Adjei has experience and hugs the line. Amoako is agile both in the air and on the ground. Adams is an all round shot stopper.
DEFENDERS: Herbert Addo’s defence is probably going to be the best thing which happened to Ghana at CHAN 2011. There are no surprises here. Herbert is probably the most defensive-minded coach in Africa. Apart from Alfred Nelson who plays for a lower, league it is difficult to think about any in-form defender who is not in this squad even though Seth Owusu (Medeama SC) would have been a better way to strengthen the left (wing) back position.
MIDFIELDERS: Midfield might end up as the ‘Achilles heel’ of Ghana’s squad. For a nation so gifted with central and defensive midfielders, it is quite interesting that Addo’s squad will lack depth in these departments. The squad has one winger too many. Whereas this might be an indication that Addo intends to rely on flanking manoeuvres, the absence of combative, ball holding and passers of the ball like Aaron Amoah (Mighty Jets), Ofosu Amoah (Heart of Lions), Daniel Nii Adjei (Kotoko), Obed Ansah (Hearts of Oak) and Baba Gullit (Edubiase FC) might come back to haunt Ghana as the tournament progressed.
ATTACKERS: Conspicuously missing in this squad are top scorer Nathaniel Asamoah and consistent performers like Nana Poku (Berekum Arsenals), and Bismark Asiedu (Dwarfs), Louis Agyemang (Medeama SC) and Abdul Wahab (King Faisal). Any average follower of the Glo Premier League knows that Herbert’s favourites for strike options are not necessarily the best in-form strikers. Gilbert Fiamenyo has scored only 2 goals in the last 12 goals, Stephen Manu hasn’t scored in 10 games and Obed Owusu, whose best-fit position is wing forward, has scored only 1 goal the entire season. What is worse? Owusu hasn’t scored in 15 games.
So, there must be a very special reason why strikers who are scoring regularly are not part of Herbert’s squad. On current form alone therefore, Ghana’s hopes at CHAN will rely heavily on Bismark Idan and Emmanuel Clotty, who doesn’t seem to be fit enough to play the full 90 minutes for his club this season.
Some of these ‘deficiencies’ with Herbert Addo’s squad notwithstanding, I am in no doubt whatsoever, that Herberet and his boys will come home with the cup which Milovan Rajevac missed a couple of years ago to D. R. Congo.
Goalkeepers: Sammy Adjei (Hearts of Oak) Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars) Isaac Amoako (Asante Kotoko)
Defenders: Godfred Saka (Aduana Stars), Mohammed Sabato (Asante Kotoko), Emmanuel Ansong (Aduana Stars), Isaac Ashong (AshantiGold), Alfred Arthur (Berekum Chelsea), Awudu Nafiu (King Faisal), Mohammed Awal (Asante Kotoko), Alfred Nelson (Unistars Academy)
Midfielders: Edwin Gyimah (Wa All Stars), Hans Cofie (Medeama SC), Yaw Alexander (Berekum Chelsea), Mohammed Basit (Berekum Chelsea), Larbi Koomson (Medeama SC) Bernard Dong Bortey (Aduana Stars)
Attackers: Obed Owusu (Berekum Chelsea), Emmanuel Clottey (Berekum Chelsea), Bismark Idan (Berekum Chelsea), Stephen Manu (New Edubiase), Nuhu Fuseini (New Edubiase), Gilbert Fiamenyo (Heart of Lions).