Sports Features of Thu, 26 Oct 20179
Why Kwesi Appiah’s Black Stars are as glittering as ever
Once upon a time in the history of African football, all national teams succumbed to the mighty wits of the Black Stars of Ghana as they glittered across the continent and to some extent the world at large.
However, a country that was tagged as the “hope of Africa” during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa suddenly lost its pride on the world stage and fell out of love with its home faithful.
However, under the new management of Coach Kwesi Appiah and his technical team ( Ibrahim Tanko, Maxwell Konadu, Stephen Appiah and Richard Kingston), it is likely the once affectionately referred “hope of Africa” will regain its status on the world stage and glitter as it did in 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Fidel Deke, a velvet and steel universe writer, unveils why Kwesi Appiah will once again lead the Black Stars to the glittering days.
Appointed as head Coach of the Black Stars for a second stint in May, Appiah was tasked by the Football Association to do his possible best to qualify the team to a fourth consecutive World Cup appearance. He was also tasked to build a formidable team that will win the African Cup of Nations in 2019.
The World Cup dream was already a lost battle even before Egypt recently beat Congo to qualify to the global showpiece for the first time since 1990. But more importantly, it was time for Kwesi Appiah to begin rebuilding the team for subsequent tournaments.
The time for the newly inducted technical team, led by Kwesi Appiah, was nigh as the Black Stars were to take on the Walias of Ethiopia in the 2019 African Cup of Nations Qualifier in Kumasi on June 11, 2017.
It was this period that Kwesi Appiah made his intentions to build a formidable team clearer with the introduction of some new players (Thomas Agyapong, Ebenezer Ofori, Raphael Dwamena, Lumor Agbenyenu, Lawrence Atizigi) and dropping some notable big names like Mubarrak Wakasso, Agyemang Badu and Razark Braimah. Certainly, this bold decision by Kwesi Appiah was not good news to a number of Ghanaians as they dreaded Ghana losing its first qualifier in the 2019 AFCON tournament.
To the surprise of Ghanaians, the Black Stars beat the Walias of Ethiopia by five goals, with the newly introduced players getting on the scoring sheet ( Raphael Dwamena 2x, Ebenezer Ofori) with Thomas Agyapong providing two assist on his debut.
The decision to bring on board new players (Richmond Boakye Yiadom) recently has certainly increased the competitive nature of the team as players “fight” for a position in the first team.
“A team without leadership is like a ship without its captain”. One thing Coach Kwesi Appiah was criticized for in his first stint as Ghana coach was his willingness to let things pass him by. Infact he was popularly known as the liberal type of coach.
Sharp contrast three years down the line after being sacked from his job, Appiah has now found the courage to point out the wrongs of his players and even punish them if necessary.
A stance in this case was the recent dropping of the Ayew brothers (Andre and Jordan) as the team prepared for the return leg of the World Cup qualifier against Uganda in Kampala.
The duo were dropped after pulling out of the Black Stars’ home draw against Congo, with Jordan requesting to be excused due to a reported stomach upset, whiles Andre also pulled out due to a reported injury.
Following the decision to drop the duo, Uncle to the Ayew brothers, Sola Ayew, mentioned in an interview that, the dropping of his nephews was as result of his hate for the Ayew family.
“Akwesi Appiah hates the Ayew family but the Ayew’s will continue to serve Ghana in spite of the machinations to get them out,” Sola Ayew stressed. Clearly Sola Ayew was agitated by Coach Appiah’s decision.
However as many angles that may be drawn from this: being hate or not, the coach made the decision to drop them and it was to stamp his authority on the team.
Leaping to the defense of his players.
In modern day football, a coach’s decision to leap to the defense of his players tends to bode well for the team and its entirety, as players develop a sense of trust in their gaffer.
A perfect example would be current Manchester United head coach, Jose Mourinho, who always comes to the defense of his players anytime questions are asked during the post match conference with matters concerning them.
Kwesi Appiah also put up a similar posture as he leapt to the defense of his captain, Asamoah Gyan, when questions on the customised armband popped up after their 5-0 thumping over the Wallias of Ethiopia.
“There is nothing going on in the team, there is so much peace and unity.
“Discipline is the highest I have seen since I have been around the team. What happened was the captain band had been customized with Gyan’s face on it. We are all aware that if he was being brought off, we could not give the customised version to Dede.
From these new observation with the Kwesi Appiah led technical team, it is only right to say the Black Stars of Ghana is on its own path to glory and regain its status as the “hope of Africa”.