Sports Features of 2013-12-12

Brouhaha over Olele’s age and fitness

Ghanaians have expressed their opinions about the call-back of Richard Kingston (Olele) to join the senior national team - the Black Stars, for the much anticipated and very crucial 2014 World Cup play-off against Egypt at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on October 15.
His return was greeted by widespread condemnation from a section of the public who thought the veteran goalie had lost his agility and reflexes.
There have also been questions about the quality of the Cypriot league, where he currently plies his trade. Olele registered for Doxa Katokopias in the summer after being rendered surplus to requirement by Wigan FC in England.
The issue about his age has taken a ridiculous dimension as people have humorously come up with all forms of "mathematical logic" to cast doubt on his official age of 35. Other critics have passionately questioned the rationale of Richard Kingston's call-back and have argued that his prolonged two-year break has blunted his goalkeeping skill.
Like much older wine, goal keepers get better with age as a saying goes. And this has brought up quite many examples of goalkeepers and some players who have performed remarkably in their late 30s and 40s.
During the Fifa World Cup 2010, held in South Africa, England's Coach, Fabio Capello decided to field Robert Green ahead of the more experienced David James (aged 40 that time) in their opening group game against the USA.
But after the match ended 1-1, Capello realized that if he desired to proceed to the next level, he would have to field the old James. Kingston on the other hand may or may not be as young as his official records state, but what most people have failed to consider, however, is how he has tremendously contributed to the many victories of the Black Stars.
Spain-based goalkeeper Razak Brimah stated in an interview with Joy FM in Accra that he believes Olele still has the qualities to be a hit on his return to the Black Stars. Kingston returned to active football after signing for Cypriot top-flight side Doxa.
"I have been watching the Black Stars for quite some time before I received my first call-up and I must say Richard Kingston is a good goalkeeper and this is football, so everything that happen you have to keep your head up and keep working hard," the CD Guadalajara player Razak Brimah told Joy news.
The veteran goalkeeper, according to reports, registered with 13th July, 1965 as his date of birth, but that date changed at the 2000 AFCON to 13 July 1975, and he is purported to have used 13th June for the 1978 for the 2010 AFCON and World Cup and this has left Ghanaians wondering how old he could possibly be and what his real age is.
Coach Kwesi Appiah was prompted to include the goalkeeper because Olele is experienced, couple with the fact that he has been a regular starter with Doxa since joining in the summer. A report by Kent Mensah, a sport analyst stated in his article that William Amanoo , the ex-Black Stars' keeper commended coach Kwesi Appiah for taking such a bold decision to recall Richard Kingston to the Black Stars.
Amanoo added that it was not a matter of age but Eddy Ansah (former goalkeeper of the Ghana Black Stars) who was almost 40 in the Black Stars starting line-up as a clear example of Olele's case. "Age doesn't matter. Goalkeepers get better with age but the management of the team should still be rotating the other keepers during friend-lies to send a signal that they have not been left out. I will urge Ghanaians to rally behind the team and respect the decision the FA made.."
However, Kingston's apparent readiness to play for the Black Stars should be encouraged.