When Local Black Stars striker Nuhu Fuseini sent me a facebook text message asking me and Ghanaians to pray for the Local Black Stars, little did I know that the team was going to give Ghana her worst tournament performance since the Egypt 2006 fiasco!!
But now, thinking through the chronicle of events prior to and during the tournament, I realise that the signs were clearly written on the wall that the Local Black Stars were always going to be terrible at Sudan 2011.
After Ivory Coast 2009, Ghana went to sleep on the Local Black Stars. No friendly games were organized. A rigorous scouting system to track and pick the best players in Ghana wasn’t put in place. The results? Ghana struggled to qualify to the finals of the tournament and struggled through the pre-tournament training games in Kenya failing to beat even Academy teams. We should have seen this disastrous tournament performance coming!!
Some people, including goalkeeper Sammy Adjei, have blamed Ghana’s piss-poor performance on the bad nature of the Sudanese pitches. “We went out to there to lift the cup, we don’t know what happened. The pitch was very bad.”
Other folks have questioned the quality of the players. Deputy captain Emmanuel Ansong completely disagrees with this stand point. “We had so many good players in the squad that we did not have the faintest idea this was going to happen to us.”
Yet, some others have claimed that Ghana’s league from where the players were selected is simply not competitive enough. This is the stance of Ghana FA President would-be Vincent Sowah Odotei. “Our domestic football is not competitive. When any of our clubs face teams outside Ghana, we are not able to compete.”
As plausible as these explanations maybe, the buck stops with Herbert Addo. He was the one who, without interference, selected an unbalanced team filled with wing forwards and attackers without midfield depth. He was the one who opted for strikers who were not among the top 20 goal scores in Ghana and put them in his starting line up while top scores (Bismark Asideu, Nana Poku, Nathaniel Asamoah) were left in Ghana. He was the one who overlooked defenders from the best defensive team in Ghana today (Heart of Lions). He was the one who did not have a consistent team in the 6 games (pre- and during the tournament) he played out of which Ghana recorded only one win.
I am struggling to bring out of my memory any coach [local or foreign] who has dragged the flag of Ghana through the mud as much as Herbert Addo did at CHAN 2011. It beggars belief to imagine that Ghana’s highest pedigree active coach today will fail to produce a single win in a competition where he could pit his tactical strength against his peers on the African continent.
Now in a classic case of the fathers eating a sour grape, and the children’s teeth being set on edge, Herbert Addo’s failure is being generalized as the failure of every Ghanaian coach. The nationalistic call for risking tournaments wins in the hands of Ghanaian coaches in order to build their capacity for the future has suffered a great dip.
It will border on naivety to completely write off Ghanaian coaches just because one or two of them made wrong choices. After all, when foreign coaches take over Ghana’s national teams and mess up our chances in international competitions, an end to hiring foreign coaches is not argued for. This bad performance from Herbert Addo is just another slip from which core lessons ought to be learnt instead of just hanging all local coaches for the failures of one man.
Perhaps the Ghana FA must rather than follow this naive call to do away with Ghanaian coaches, spend much more time assessing these coaches before placing them in charge of national teams to ensure that only the best at a particular time is selected.
Additionally, it appears that one of Herbert Addo’s main problems was this conflict of interest between using players in his club and players from other clubs. To minimize this sort of conflict of interest, I am very much in favour of the suggestion of Mr. Yaw Abrah Appiah, the chairman of The Professional League Board. “In the future, national teams should not be given to coaches who run clubs. That is why I always praise David Duncan who has left AshantiGold to manage the Black Meteors.”
To further forestall such embarrassments, each of Ghana’s national teams (whether managed by a Ghanaian or foreign coach) ought to have a clear cut criteria of scouting for talent. Each of these teams ought to have a training regime which spans tournaments which can then be part of the annual calendars of the various local leagues.
The adhoc system of calling up several players based on a coaches whims and caprices a month to tournaments and then selecting 23 of his favourites based on their potentially to attract scouts and sending them to a one week camp in some obscured part of the world has been one of Ghana’s major banes.
Foreign coaches with very little qualification and experience come to Ghana to build their CVs on the faith, moral support and financial support of the Ghanaian football fraternity. Equal attention ought to be given to the Ghanaian coach to build his capacity even if a few of them fail along the line.
It is Herbert Addo who failed and not all Ghanaian coaches.