Soccer News Tue, 7 Feb 2006

Essien To Miss World Cup?

Black Stars midfielder, Michael Essien, is unlikely to return to the team again, at least in the immediate future, following his being labelled as ?unpatriotic? by officials who have taken stock of Ghana?s performance at the Nations Cup in Egypt.

The Chelsea player seems to have hastened an imminent action by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) after featuring in the English champions? 2-0 victory over Liverpool in the Premiership last Sunday in a dramatic recovery to fitness.

The decision will nullify his chances of appearing at the June World Cup in Germany where Ghana will make a debut appearnce after a long wait.

A second player, Sule Muntari, however, enjoys the sympathy of the Black Stars Management Committee, the GFA and the Black Stars technical team following revelation that he insisted on being registered for the Nations Cup despite being injured just before the start of the tournament.

And unlike Essien, Muntari would not need to explain his presence in the Udinese side that lost 0-1 to Juventus in the Italian league championship last Sunday.


The Graphic Sports gathered from sources within the Stars? camp in Egypt that Muntari?s name was struck off the team list for the tournament to avoid the risk of wasting his place although the player believed he could recover a week earlier than the three weeks medical experts had predicted.

Like fellow forward, Asamoah Gyan, who sprained a ligament during the Stars? pre-tournament training camp in Tunisia, Muntari is a certainty for Ghana?s onslaught on the world in Germany, all things being equal.

For Essien, his outright ban from the team, according to insiders, appeared the least response from officialdom who felt betrayed by the player?s behaviour.

The decision, expected to be announced at a news conference in Accra today, was one of important subjects for discussion at a meeting involving the GFA Executive Committee, the Black Stars Management Team and the team?s technical staff yesterday.

But individual views from the three sides of the meeting, long before it started, were conclusive on the necessity for a tough action against the player who missed the Nations Cup through what was reported as an injury.


Indeed, tucked firmly on the minds of some members who attended the meeting, as they recounted to the Graphic Sports, were a catalogue of denials the nation has suffered at the hands of the player who gained every ounce of his current fame on the platform Ghana provided him at the Under-17 championships in Africa and the world in 1999.

Since 2000 when he joined Bastia in France, they suggested, Essien has found one reason or another to absent himself from national duty, sometimes at critical moments for the country.

At the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali, for example, Essien flew back to France to treat an injury after playing just a match for the Black Stars.

A week afterwards, he was in the starting line-up for Lyon in a French league match.

A three-man committee chaired by Fred Pappoe subsequently recommended that Essien should forever be kept away from the national team.


As though the failure to carry out the recommendation of the committee was a mistake, Essien failed to respond to a call-up for the Stars? qualifier against Burkina Faso in Kumasi last year and failed to play the full duration of games against Cape verde and Uganda both also in Kumasi during the same qualifiers.

Still argued by others, although Essien is one of three players vying for the African Footballer of the Year Award, his pedigree falls shy of that of Samuel Osei Kuffour who was dismissed from the team for failing to honour an invitation to play in a friendly against Ajax early last year.

?If Kuffour was sacked from the team for not honouring an invitation to play in a friendly game, who should escape a similar punishment for failing to turn up for the Nations Cup,? one person queried.

Besides, sources say the player proved elusive when Education and Sports Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, sought audience with him recently when he visited Britain.

While Ghana negotiated for his release from Chelsea for the Nations Cup, the player kept a stony silence over the affair in sharp contrast to Cote d?Ivoire?s Didier Drogba?s insistence that he was leaving for the Nations Cup.

It dawned on officilas of the national team then that the player was not keen to feature at the Nations Cup.

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