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Sports Features Wed, 17 Oct 2018

Feature: Spare us this gamble!

I wonder whether Black Stars coach, Kwasi Appiah, is ready for what he is bargaining for regarding moves to recall German-born Ghanaian Kevin-Prince (KP) Boateng into the senior national team. I don't want to believe that the Stars coach is succumbing to any external pressure to bring KP back into his team at this material moment, since the timing seems not to be right.

Last week, the usual drama which often characterises the inclusion of KP prior to major tournaments began to play out when Kwasi Appiah hinted of the possible return of the player into his set up if only he was willing to apologise to Ghanaians and the Ghana Football Association (GFA) as directed by the Government White Paper on the Dzamefe Commission's report.

If my memory serves me right that was the first public statement by the Stars coach on the player after he had appeared before the Dzamefe Commission to tell his side of the story on the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup brouhaha.

Simply put, Appiah said despite showing him and the GFA gross disrespect in Brazil, he was ready to forgive KP and give him another chance to give the Black Stars more striking options. That's certainly not a bad idea from a coach who is hungry for results.

But the question is whether the midfielder-cum-attacker, who is in great form for Sassuolo in the Italian Serie A, is willing to change his mind after recently stating that he owed the GFA no apology for the amateurish manner in which it organised the Brazil 2014 campaign. That is where the problem is.

If KP's stance is that he has done no wrong despite his regrettable encounter with Kwasi Appiah and the GFA, which resulted in his being thrown out of Brazil in the course of the tournament, alongside Sulley Muntari, then it is clear that he is still not remorseful. If for nothing at all, Muntari has since written to the GFA to apologise for his misconduct in Brazil, following that infamous encounter with the owner of Medeama SC, Moses Armah.

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If that is indeed the case, it would be worth the while of the Stars coach not to dream of recalling such a player to create more conflicts in his otherwise peaceful team. Coming out to declare his intention to recall the player should be enough for the whole world to know that Kwasi Appiah has put the past behind him.

We are dealing with a player who has a track record of being a last minute addition for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups in South Africa and Brazil, respectively. On both occasions, he missed the qualifiers only to resurface in the final squad at the last minute.

In the case of the Brazil 2014 qualifiers especially, he only featured in the final qualifier between Egypt and Ghana in Cairo as a substitute. KP got Ghana's consolation goal in the game which ended 2-1 in favour of the North Africans. But that was after Kwasi Appiah had already made history as the first Ghanaian coach to qualify the Black Stars to the senior World Cup, following a historic 6-1 thrashing of the Pharaohs of Egypt in Kumasi.

That historic feat was achieved without KP. And as it happened prior to the South Africa 2010 World Cup, KP found his way into the final team to Brazil due to his good form then as is the case presently.

However, the difference is that the Stars are now preparing not for another World Cup but an African tournament, AFCON 2019, which the player has not featured in before. The bare fact is that KP is not keen on playing in Africa perhaps due to the several knee surgeries he has had in his career. It is also an open secret that most pitches in Africa are not the best as compared to Europe and other parts of the world.

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If the player is not ready to feature in the rest of the AFCON qualifiers and the tournament proper if Ghana qualifies, then the issue is not even worth discussing in the first place. I don't think the issue on hand is that simple as we are being made to believe.

KP may truly be in top form currently at club level, but another question is whether he is ready to play under the same coach he allegedly had a fracas with in Brazil?

Without belabouring the point, if indeed the player actually told the foreign media that he had nothing to apologise for but rather thought GFA officials were unfair to him in Brazil, then it is obvious that Kwasi Appiah is dealing with a remorseless character and could, therefore, be courting trouble for himself and his promising side.

I would rather advise the Stars coach to concentrate on building a solid team out of his hungry bunch of young players at his disposal now instead of focusing on players who are over the hill and have nothing to prove any longer.

If you ask me, I think the current pool of the Stars such as the squad that was assembled for the Sierra Leone duel is talent-filled and has the potential of taking on the world just as the Stephen Appiah generation did in the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup in Germany and South Africa, respectively. All they need is to play together for sometime to build their confidence with the support of the entire nation.

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Kwasi Appiah has said time and again that his ambition is to leave a legacy of a formidable team that can last for the next decade. If that vision still holds, then I don't think any of the so-called superstars should be entertained in this future plan.

The nature of Kwasi Appiah and his dream for the Black Stars surely do not require football politicians but young promising and hungry players who are willing to submit and cooperate with the technical team to achieve their targets. For now, the presence of skipper Asamoah Gyan in the team should be enough to inspire quality players such as Kwadwo Asamoah, Thomas Partey, Emmanuel Boateng, Christian Atsu, and others to give the coach and Ghanaians the needed results.

I dare say that the introduction of any bad influence into the team at this point could rock the boat!

Source: Graphic.com.gh
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