Sports Features of 2014-08-07

Between the devil and the deep blue sea – The GFA and Kwesi Appiah

News broke early this week about Kwesi Appiah seemingly ready to resign if the Ghana Football Association imposes a technical director on him for the Black Stars.

Following the discussion of this news on various social media networks, this writer decided to do some digging to ascertain the facts of the story and this piece therefore seeks to clarify what is happening as far as the embattled Ghana coach is concerned.

The Beginning: New contract talks

Investigations reveal that the GFA hierarchy was concerned about the fact that they failed to secure Ratomir Djukovic after the 2006 World Cup and Milovan Rajevac four years later.

In both cases, contract extension talks began after the tournaments and because of lucrative offers from elsewhere, both coaches declined to extend their stay with Ghana.

Djukovic left for China and Rajevac went to the Middle East. I am reliably informed that the GFA felt that Kwesi Appiah could also be snared away after the 2014 World Cup and so the Emergency Committee agreed a package with the coach.

As is well documented, Appiah was offered a new two-year deal worth $36,500 a month plus a $100,000 signing on fee, with the new contract taking effect from August 1 2014. I am also told on authority that he agreed to the deal and signed before Ghana’s 2014 World Cup campaign.

Confusion within the Emergency and Executive Committee

Some digging has also turned up the fact that whilst there was an agreement over the new contract for Kwesi Appiah, it was mostly the Emergency Committee that was involved and indeed, the other Executive Committee members were not kept in the loop as per the exact details of the deal and whether Appiah has indeed signed or not.

So after the rather poor campaign, some members of the Executive Committee raised the red flag over two things; the package offered to Kwesi Appiah and why he was being handed a new juicy contract in the first place following a poor World Cup campaign.

Again, investigations reveal that when GFA President Kwesi Nyantakyi, who doubles as the Black Stars management committee chairman, presented his World Cup report to the Executive Committee, there was no mention of technical lapses or otherwise as a reason why Ghana did not do well.

Instead, the reasons given in the report were player indiscipline and the failure to pay the players their appearance fees on time. This also raised more than a few eyebrows amongst the Executive Committee members and so there were arguments as to why Appiah’s role was seemingly papered over.

Ayariga attempts to wield the axe but softens

My investigations also reveal that when the GFA hierarchy met with newly appointed Minister for Youth and Sports, Hon. Mahama Ayariga for the first time, the Minister strongly expressed concerns over the technical ability of Kwesi Appiah and recommended that the GFA replaced the former Black Stars captain; even going to the extent of offering, on behalf of government, to foot the bill for whoever is brought in.

There must have been a leak from that first meeting because not long after, current Black Satellites head coach Sellas Tetteh, in response to a question posed to him on Metro TV, stated that he was ready for the Black Stars job if he was to be considered.

Tetteh has since played down those comments and Ayariga, I am told, was also advised as per the fact as Sports Minister, he could not really impose his will on the GFA.

At that meeting, because of his submissions, the GFA hierarchy couldn’t tell him that a new deal had already been agreed with Kwesi Appiah.

Subsequent meetings have since been held and Ayariga, finally realizing that he had perhaps come on too strong, has advised the GFA to consider strengthening the technical base of the team.

Technical support – the suspiciously gray area

Following the meetings with the minister, the GFA hierarchy has since considered a number of options. One is to elevate Kwesi Appiah to the position of technical director of the Black Stars so that someone else is appointed the head coach, or someone is appointed the technical director for the Black Stars whilst Appiah remains as head coach of the Black Stars. Another option discussed is also to bring another coach in as part of Appiah’s backroom staff.

I am reliably informed that some Executive Committee members have warned against such a move, citing the confusion that occurred when Ibrahim Sunday was appointed the technical director of the Black Starlets squad of 1989 whilst Oko Aryee was the coach.

What is now public knowledge is that the Executive Committee will present the scenarios to Appiah when he returns from his holidays in South Africa in the very near future.

Already the noises coming out are that Appiah would reject the proposal and will offer to resign if the GFA is insistent.

Again, there are suspicions that following a bit of pressure, these are ways of forcing Appiah’s hand for him to resign, which would mean the GFA wouldn’t have to pay any compensation to him.

If you recall, there was a very subtle way the GFA used to get rid of Claude Le Roy after the 2008 African Nations Cup.

The Frenchman was offered new terms that were not above the salary he was previously on and following Le Roy’s refusal to renew his contract following the offer, both parties parted company amicably.

Hypocrisy of the GFA hierarchy

What has also become apparent is that the GFA sings a Beethoven classical when it comes to its views on Appiah in public but belts out a VIP tune in private (remember the line ‘if your girlfriend no dey do you well, clap clap clap away).

In short, I can say on authority that the GFA hierarchy back Appiah in public but the sad truth is that in private, the big wigs have absolutely no confidence in his abilities as a coach and what happened in Brazil would only have strengthened those feelings.

However, for the sake of continuity and other reasons, Appiah has rather become a necessary evil as far as the GFA hierarchy is concerned and so the GFA is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea at the moment.

Conclusion

All we can do now is to wait for this whole soap opera to conclude, but suffice it to say that there is hope that at the end of the day, an amicable settlement would be reached and Appiah could very well stay on, but at the moment, things look murky.

Source: Christopher Opoku
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