Sports Features of 2014-07-06

The GFA wants a comfortable fantasy landing

The President of the Ghana Football Association Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi has done something all desperately wish we could do. He has marked his own exam papers and given himself top marks. This was the burden of the press conference organised by the GFA on Wednesday. It was entirely predictable that Mr. Nyantakyi and his colleagues would try and placate Ghanaians who are in a foul mood about the goings-on in Brazil recently. What we had not anticipated was the sheer chutzpah bordering on arrogance with which Mr. Nyantakyi addressed the nation.

Clearly, despite the apology for God knows what, it is obvious that Mr. Nyantakyi and his establishment wish to continue as usual knowing that FIFA statutes insulate the GFA from direct public control. However, state funds and other resources were involved in the planning and execution of Brazil 2014 and to that extent the enquiry the public continues to demand must happen. The press conference did not provide the answers, nor did it answer the most important question, which is where we go from here.

The coach, Mr. Kwasi Appiah was given the stamp of endorsement by the GFA President, which is a bit strange. According to Mr. Appiah, the target he set the team was to reach the semi-final which would be the logical progression from the Black Stars performances in 2006 and 2010. In every other endeavour, you are very unlikely to receive a pat on the back when you fail to deliver the set target.

As Mr. Appiah, an excellent footballer in his day knows, in football as in every sport it is the result that counts. In Brazil not only did we not get the results, people who know a bit more than most of us, think that he must take the blame for the failure. However, ass usual, the coach blamed others, in this case undisciplined players in his squad. This is an amazing admission of a person who did not and probably does not even now understand the terms of his mandate. The question to answer is this: why did he take undisciplined players to the World Cup? Or did the players lose their discipline due to circumstances that arose in the camp? In any case, it is the manager’s duty to ensure that his players stay within the bounds he has set. As a friend remarked, “even Balotelli can be managed”. However, Mr. Appiah’s assertions and blames underscore the need for a thorough scrutiny of what happened in Brazil. We cannot and should not accept the rather glib assurances that lessons have been learnt and mistakes will not occur again.

Nigeria’s coach Stephen Keshi resigned promptly after his team crashed out of the World Cup although the Mighty Eagles went one step better than the Black Stars. The usually overconfident Keshi played the right card; his resignation makes him less of a target in the inevitable search for answers, but also enables his employers to do a proper examination of his and the team’s performance. Closing ranks and forming some kind of back-scratching alliance of self-interests is not the way to go. Nobody is saying that Kwasi Appiah is a bad coach or a bad person. It is just that he was given a specific assignment which he failed to deliver. It is possible that the circumstances that led to his failure were beyond his control, or that he could not adapt to those new challenges. Whatever the reason, we as a nation of football supporters need to be reassured that the team is led by the best person for the job at any given moment.

While we are at it, Mr. Nyantakyi should feel reassured that not all those who are critical of the Brazil fiasco wish to see the back of him. This ready and quick personalization of public policy discussions is what is killing this country. As he knows, we football supporters are a sensitive lot. When you are doing well we heap praised on you and in equal measure we demand more than a pound of flesh when we are let down.

To be fair, the GFA President probably has a right to feel entitled to continuous public praise because he HAS achieved a lot for Ghana. However, in business as in love, things can go sour all of a sudden and the best dance of the chicken will not please the hawk. It is not personal. This is the nature of the game. It is called life. As for grading your own exam paper and scoring yourself top mark, well that is fantasy.

Source: Gyan-Apenteng, Kwasi
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