I have not seen the Black Stars lift a trophy in my life. Well, not quite. The last time they did, I was just about two years old. I have heard several folks, from so-called football pundits through to former players, coaches and indeed the 25 million other coaches Ghana boasts of, say that the inability of big boys like Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria to make it to the finals in January offers the Stars a greater opportunity to grab their first silverware in 30 years. It is as if we are a bunch of ‘fearoos’ who are excited about the absence of the school bully and want to bully those we are supposedly ‘bigger and better’ than.
We should know, especially after what the Black Stars did at the last AFCON and the World Cup in South Africa that IF we plan well and get a bit more serious, we wouldn’t have to bother about any ‘big boys’ here or abroad.
The ‘IF’ there is important because the folks into whose hands we have left the administration of the nation’s passion seem to think the ultimate wisdom in football rests only in their heads. We should also know that those ‘minnow’ countries qualified for AFCON 2012 on merit. They indeed whipped the asses of the big boys to get there. So they are going to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea because they are stronger than those they beat.
Now if we think we are going to have an easy run then let me kindly proffer my tiny, limited football knowledge and say that, that will depend on Ghana selecting its best players based on merit and not past achievements or some gross sentimental nonsense. I think that certain players who have been regulars to the national team over the years should not be selected this time round.
This is not the stage to show appreciation and say that ‘oh he’s been there for us for the past six, eight years so we can’t leave him out’. The business of the national team is a serious, national affair not one to be toyed with by individuals whose selfish interests should override that of the nation.
Olele for instance has been dropped because he is still without a club and my intuition is that he may never land a club again. Some of you may want to believe otherwise but even if Olele was indeed the 32 or 33 year old keeper that he claims to be, he is way past his prime to land a deal with any seriously competitive club. I have met a nearly 40 year old man who says ‘I used to watch Olele train at the park in Accra when I was a small boy’. That dude feels he is old now.
Skipper John Mensah too has been sidelined to the Lyon bench so far this season. He seems to be prone to injuries more than any other Ghanaian player I can think of.
He failed to land a permanent deal at Sunderland because he could not play enough matches to turn his loan deal into a permanent one. He does not play enough matches and to me that should count against him. He is the captain, and so what? Michael Ballack was forced out of the German national team because his form had dropped after injuries and better players had come through.
The duo of Dominic Adiyiah and Prince Tagoe should be replaced, but with whom I don’t know. The thing is these guys too are way past their prime and they are too old to recapture their glorious days. Let us not kid ourselves that they are the 23 and 26 year olds that they say they are.
Their outputs in games have been below par; meanwhile we have guys in our local leagues playing exquisitely well. We have these players who are cheating their teams but can obviously not cheat nature. I do not have their birth certificates but that would not even matter since in Ghana getting a new birth certificate with one’s preferred DOB is not a tough task. Perhaps the only players we have whose DOBs are accurate are those born outside Ghana; the Ayew brothers, Adam Kwaresey, Quincy Owusu Abeyie and who else?! Talking of the Ayew brothers I will be shell-shocked if they both do not make it into the squad considering the fine form they have lately.
There have been assertions from some quarters that certain players have certain deals with certain officials which ensure that they somewhat almost make it into the squad. I pray this is not true. I am not sure why there is always so much focus on foreign-based players when most of them do not even make the benches in Europe. I think that if you don’t get to play for your club side, you do not deserve to be called into the national side.
I have not played football or do I have a coaching license but it does not mean that when I see a player past his prime and not playing well I can’t see it!
By: Kwame Gyan