Sports Features of 2014-07-31

Battlelines drawn between Nyantakyi and Randy Abbey

2015 promises to be an interesting year for Ghana football.
There is the AFCON in Morocco which could turn out out to be the nail in the coffin of Kwasi Appiah or his moment of glory as coach but the most significant moment event on and off the pitch will be the election of a new president for the Ghana football association.
It will be the celebration of a decade of Ghana football under Kwesi Nyantakyi and in good times it should be a moment worth throwing a party for but these aren't good times,at least for the incumbent boss.
Once considered unchallengeable ,Nyantakyi finds himself facing the first significant challenge to his tenure as boss of Ghana football with increasing public and media interest and it is becoming clear that one of his challengers will be a person he once called friend and partner,Randy Abbey.
Abbey and Nyantakyi know each other well having risen together through the halls of power at the football association. It started off so sweetly in 2005.The young,amiable greenhorn president and his equally likeable spokesperson. The two of them braved many storms together as they led a revolution of newbies to wrestle control of the association from dinosaurs like Nana Brew Butler,Awuah Nyamekye,Alhaji Jawula and Dr.Nyaho Tamakloe who had controlled it for decades.
Those heady days are now long gone and each is now preparing an assault;One to keep his seat ,another to take charge and chart his own course.
It is hard to place where it all went wrong but a good place to start would be the end of the 2010 World Cup.
After the country's best ever performance at the world cup,reaching the quarter-finals and losing out via penalty shoot outs,the team's administrative set up was ripped up by an executive committee election that revealed the vindictive background of football politics.
Nyantakyi,long perceived to be a a supporter of the opposition party came under pressure from elements within the ruling government who wanted to control football and felt that his right hand man [Abbey]had not offered him enough protection from the circling vultures.
Suffice to say after one of the most poisonous elections in Ghana football congress history,Nyantakyi had his way as the two personalities with the best chance of unseating him in any election, Fred Pappoe and Abbey were shown the door. The duo also lost their positions within the Black Stars as well with Nyantakyi replacing Pappoe as head of the black stars management committee while Abbey was taken off the reconstituted Black Stars management committee.
The bad blood seems not to have let down even though both personalities have gone about working together. For football observers however there has been a very obvious decline in the once uber friendly relationship between the two.
Randy Abbey was a very conspicous absentee from the world cup in Brazil and has kept his distance from all Nyantakyi engagements except Executive Committee meetings. Things are just not warm.
Perhaps Nyantakyi has always known that a time would come when his greatest adversary would be his one time friend and has built a tight-well knit network around him particularly within the constituency that matters the most,Congress of the Ghana football association. He is aware of the coming storm and knows who his main rival is.
There are constant whisperings from those closest to him about the "machinations" of Abbey.In fact most negative stories about the GFA boss are immediately considered as leaks from the camp of Randy Abbey.
Abbey has meanwhile also slowly and quietly built himself up. He has acquired a majority stake in a premier league side,Kpando Hearts of Lions and has developed a core group of supporters devoted to his aim of unseating Nyantakyi.
He has also built up a considerable war chest from his business endeavours which will serve him well when the time comes to campaign and put one's cards on the tables. He is well aware the challenge to unseat Nyantakyi will be a difficult one though not necessarily impossible.
The affable journalist turned entrepreneur has never been one for loud gestures or for showing his hands and has severally denied public questions about his ambitions.
The battle lines have been drawn. Let the games begin.