Ghana coach Stevanovic, knows how to make some of the nicest-sounding politically correct statements. His “it is time to win cups” talk has reached cliché proportions in Ghanaian football circles. Even some of the liverless fans have repeated this statement so much it has almost become a broken record.
Recently, Stevanovic has gone to town again. The Serbian is smooth-talking journalists about opening the Black Stars up for players plying their trade in Ghana. “I’m very impressed with what I have seen in the league. It’s a very quality and interesting league. It’s a competitive league with a lot of talented players. “ He adds that: “The door to the national team is wide open all the time and it is never shut on local players.”
All of this is good and nice talk, but to what extent can we take Stevanovic for his word? Let us measure some of his words with his actions since taking over as Ghana coach.
Stevanovic told the whole world how he intends to play attacking and how the days of rigid tactics were over. “We must play attacking and attacking football while being cautious in defence and I am sure we will achieve the results. I am here to build champions and I’m certain that all of us want to be champion.” Many were those who shot their hopes through the roof in anticipation of some exciting attacking football. What did they get in return? Stevanovic has given preference to strikers who cannot score more than 5 goals per season and ditched those who are playing and scoring at the highest level of football. The results?…Against 4 serious national teams, Stevanovic has managed only 2 goals. So much for attacking football!
Another rather catchy promise was that fringe and inactive players will be removed from the Black Stars. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But without picking on any player, don’t we all know so many of such inactive players he keeps calling up for every game when actively performing alternatives are left out?
So, confronted with this evidence, how are we to take this so-called open window for local players?
Let us grant that this time Stevanovic will be ready to invest some action where his words go. Like he himself said: “We have already given some local players the opportunity to be in the national team. The likes of Ernest Sowah, Nathaniel Asamoah, Emmanuel Clottey, Daniel Agyei and Mohammed Awal have been invited and we will continue to give others who impress the opportunity.”
With a little over two months to the next major tournament, it is important that beyond throwing few local names into squad lists, an efficient scouting system which ensures that only the best players are picked from the local league is developed. Also, it is in everyone’s best interest that local players who are obviously better than some of the fringe players abroad are given the chance to prove their worth.
So let’s see some real action, Plavi!