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Sports Features Sat, 30 Jul 2011

Feature: Destiny delayed is not destiny denied

A quote from the founder and coach of Nania FC after his team lifted the 2011 MTN FA Cup in Accra. "Kotoko is a great club and I respect their history and the good game they played today. But Nania is the future and this is just the beginning. All we need is support and transparency in Ghana football and we will see other great players emerging from smaller clubs…"


I did not see GFA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi or Black Stars coach Goran Stevanovic at the Accra Sports Stadium but I hope national team(s) scouts will alert the coach to a few revelations with the raw potential of becoming future stars sooner rather than later. Thanks to MTN, football fans have been given renewed faith that the level playing ground we all want to see in the beautiful game is possible.


For long periods of the game before the final score read Kotoko 0 Nania 1, goalkeeper Michael Sai stood firm, the defensive pairing of skipper Lawrence Lartey and Aziz Abankwa, as well as forward Prince Bafffoe held their own and ofcourse a goal worthy of winning any cup final was executed with aplomb and cheek by Evans Omani. All we can do is keep an eye on these boys and wait.


The atmosphere was sizzling….something akin to what we witnessed in South Africa during the 2010 Fifa World Cup finals. Ironically, exactly a week earlier, the flames of the Unity Games had been ignited in front of an almost subdued arena even though the entrance fee had been scrapped.


These things happen and I am sure that the next event will respect the role of the media in helping to make events what they are and also involve ordinary Ghanaians to birth genuine spirit of unity we all so desperately crave. In my last article I did knock the bigwigs for not been ruthless and thorough enough with the media hype and general education of the essence of the Unity Games.


To be balanced and fair however, kudos must also be given to the hard working staff of the National Sports Authority and Ministry of Youth and Sports. Can they be faulted when they are merely following instructions?


Back to the MTN FA Cup final on Sunday and the titanic David and Goliath contest showed Ghanaians why we will keep on falling in love with our football over and over again. Suddenly, everyone is now a fan of Nania FC...and who can blame them? Oddly enough before kick off, the vociferous Kotoko supporters were in fine voice and supremely confident of victory over Nania.

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There can be no excuses for Kotoko especially as they had been warned repeatedly leading up to the final to ‘‘be very careful and very prepared’’. Thus the scoreline was merely a justification of the overwhelming belief that where there is a will there is always a way.


Kotoko had every right to be confident before the match but had no right to have lost sight of the Abedi Pele factor. The difference between the two teams had nothing to do with ability, pedigree, experience or history. It boiled down to one simple factor SPIRIT!


Whether the sprit was from Paga in the Upper East Region region or the small town of Nania is not the issue. When it mattered most, the Nania boys had something extra and ran their sox off to beat the favourites and mighty porcupine warriors.


The challenge for Nania now is how to build on the greatest victory in their young history and how the maestro Abedi Pele will be embraced by the powers that be in Ghana football. The maestro cannot be ignored. He must however consolidate his team, staff and make strategic alliances which would ultimately solidify the firm structures he needs to contribute meaningfully to the development of Ghana football.


Before moving onto other matters arising, I would like to hail the common sense and efforts of a national security official and a senior policeman who were instructed to ‘‘remove’’ certain journalists from the stadium arena including myself by ‘‘one of the organisers’’ during the FA Cup final. Why? Because I was not authorized to be where I was seated. I will admit that it was my mistake and the official was right.


But his attempt to have me forcibly removed and embarrassed by the police as an example shows what a coward he is. I will not publish his name as my attempts to locate and confront him after the game proved futile. My colleague Christopher Opoku from Metro tv was not so fortunate as he was manhandled by some police men on duty for the match. I do not blame the officers entirely but the cowards who sent them. Who can we trust?


Talking of cowards and trust, one man who feels he has been stabbed in the back is about to fight back in what could be a fierce and bitter battle. Fifa presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam must decide whether to forgive and forget or to proceed and dam the consequences that may split Fifa into factions. But a man who feels betrayed may stop at nothing to settle old scores. Let us examine this potential explosive feud against the background of recent developments in Fifa.

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''There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face. He was a gentleman on whom i built an absolute trust'' If you are a student of literature then these famous words would stir you to attention. Mohamed Bin Hammam made the fatal error of thinking that everyone he helped at Fifa including his ex-friend Joseph Sepp Blatter and indeed all those who used to smile with him were his friends.


Such errors could lead you to an early grave. Sure, we have all made mistakes in critical areas of decision making but the lessons learnt from the knocks, slaps and pain (if you do not die from the ordeal) proved effective and necessary wake up calls. Who will Bin Hammam trust now?


The smart answer is nobody. The billion dollar man from Qatar knows that he is on his own now but he will surely win sympathizers and support if he does not bottle the courage he needs to take on the Goliath called Fifa. All before him have failed.


But there is hope. Slavery was born out of trust and betrayal , the world's most sophisticated assassinations succeeded because of betrayal, need i remind anybody of the history of the most successful coups in Africa if not Ghana? And as for bribery, well it is all around us. We bribe each other every single day. That is why when I hear people lament at so called corrupt police who collect bribes, I simply laugh. Are we not partners in crime with the men in uniform when we tempt them in these challenging days of economic strife? I beg let me think!


So what is my point? Folks, football war is coming and the men who have been entrusted with holding the flag of Ghana on our behalf must counsel and take some hard decisions to safeguard the future of football in this dear land.


We must apply wisdom and tact in choosing our friends and comrades ahead of the imminent football feud. Let me explain where I am coming from; In Shakespeare's wonderful novel Macbeth,King Duncan upon hearing the report of execution of the treacherous Thane of Cawdor, says,'' ''There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face. He was a gentleman on whom i built an absolute trust'' In other words, there is no skill or craft that can enable anyone to look at a person's face and see what is going on in that person's mind.


At the last CAF elections and congress in Khartoum- Sudan, the smart and quick thinking of the Nyantakyi team led by Alhaji Sly Tetteh, seasoned football administrator George Amoako, tireless ground intelligence man Oduro Sarfo and outgoing GFA Secretary Kofi Nsiah stifled the efforts of Caf boss Issa Hayatou. With barely 24 hours to the elections, a chilling message had gone out from the Hayatou backed Mucharaf Anjorin camp. ‘‘Vote for Anjorin’’. The message was clear and would have succeeded but for the midnight to dawn ambush marketing by the Ghanaian team.

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Nyantakyi eventually won by 43 votes to 19 in what was a remarkable and stunning victory for him considering the weight of Hayatou’s support for his errand boy.


Bin Hammam knew that he was doomed to a guilty life ban but unlike Nyantakyi in Sudan, he did not have a trusted team who could launch a counter-assault to turn the tables in his favour. The ethics committee of world football's governing body delivered their verdict after a two-day hearing, with 62-year-old Bin Hammam accused of attempting to buy votes ahead of June's Fifa presidential election, which he later withdrew from.


The bloody in-fighting will only escalate because as the main architect behind Qatar’s audacious 2022 World Cup bid cannot go anywhere near football for LIFE and being the most senior figure to be banned by Fifa in its 107-year history, the former Asian Football boss has no choice but to fight to save his name.


As things stand now, Bin Hammam will turn his attentions to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) in Lausanne can give him justice.


"The first step now is the appeal committee of Fifa, but that is another kangaroo court. The civil court in Switzerland, Cas, that is where we believe we will get the necessary justice."


‘‘We did nothing wrong," he told the BBC "I have absolutely never paid anyone for their support, no way. Let me make this clear - I have never paid money for votes in all my life." So, that is where we find ourselves at the moment. The power brokers are sharpening their weapons and stocking their arsenal for an all out winner takes all encounter.


Who laughs last will wield the power to rule world football. If you think I am exaggerating, just wait and see where football power really lies six months from now. As I keep discovering, there is no power like football power. Just ask Hayatou and Blatter but do not ask Jack Warner or Bin Hammam whose own interpretations of power may vary.

But in the context under discussion, none can disagree with the broad definition that power is "the capacity to bring about change." It takes many forms, comes from many places, and is measured in many ways.


Understanding all the varieties of power is essential if one is to understand who has it, who doesn't, and how those who don't have it can get it. Exchange of power means that, "I do something for you, in order to get you to do something for me." However, this simple concept has formed the basis for very complex human interactions.


The next power struggle in Ghana football will rear its beautiful head next week when a certain Nana Yeboah hopes to bring his version of football development to the doorsteps of the GFA. Never heard of him? Well let’s just say he’s another David ready to take on Goliath and once again prove that destiny delayed is not necessarily destiny denied.

Source: Yaw Ampofo Ankrah