Former Youth and Sports Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo says he is worried that Hearts and Kotoko- the two most successful and glamourous clubs in Ghana- can no longer produce players for the senior national football team, the Black Stars.
The Senior Minister posits that the absence of local players in the Black Stars is the clearest indication yet of the declining standard of the Ghana Premier League in particular, and Ghana football in general.
Speaking at the launch of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Week, the former Sports Minister who was at the helm when Ghana first qualified for the World Cup in 2006, called on football authorities to address and arrest the declining fortunes of the Ghana League as soon as possible to save the country’s football from dying.
“Now when we have Black Stars, out of the 18 players that we put on the pitch, aside the goalkeepers there is hardly anybody picked from the local league.
What does that tell you? This is certainly not the best way. We use to get about half of the players of the Black Stars from the Premier League, and we use to get them from Hearts of Oak, Kotoko, Wise, and Great Olympics.
These four or five teams will give us almost the Black Stars, and we were very competitive and conquered Africa. These teams also conquered Africa in their own rights but today how are our teams fearing in African club competitions? Those who win the league here in Ghana now cannot go through from the first round of the competition on the African continent.”
The outspoken minister also stressed on the perception of corruption in the Ghana League and the need sanitize sports administration in the country.
“I have been Minister for Sports before, and it was during my time that Ghana qualified for the World Cup for the first time.
“One of the first things I did was to invite the match officials to my office, because the league becomes important when people see fairness.
“You destroy the league of the country when people know that matches are being fixed. Corruption got so deep in football after 2010 that Ghanaians stopped being interested in the local league,” he said.