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25 million coaches go to work

Wed, 18 Jun 2014 Source: Gyan-Apenteng, Kwasi

World Cup Diary 3

This is the morning after the night before, my friend Yaa wrote on her Facebook wall; Ghana is not a happy place. We have not yet descended into the funk of 2010 after we were done in by the Hand of Devil, a la, Suarez, but this morning there are fewer flags and smiles in Accra. Ghana’s 25 million coaches have started work and the prevailing pre-breakfast opinion is that the real coach, Kwasi Appiah lost us the match.

Some say he should have started with Essien and Boateng because the presence of those two would intimidate the American players. Others say they coach had a goalkeeping dilemma because Kwarasey is not good at catching down balls while Dauda is afraid of high balls. It is too bad the rules of Association Football do not allow the use of two goalkeepers; ideally we would field the pair of them. Kwarasey to catch high balls while Dauda crouches low!

Of one thing we are all in agreement: Ghana’s weakness is in the defence although only God knows why. Again, our 25 million coaches and football theorists have been hard at work on this one. The dominant view is that since we tend to glamourize goal scorers fewer good players want to play in defence. Everyone wants to be a glory boy playing either in the mid-field or in the attack. There may be something in this. Of course, other games recognise this syndrome and have found ways to redress the glory deficit for certain positions; games statistics recognise the contribution of both defensive and offensive play in American football, while cricket rewards bowlers, fielders and batsmen with equal accolades.

Another point of near unanimous agreement is that the Black Stars played a good game. But what is a good game? There is a famous dictum attributed to former Black Stars player Abukari, to wit, it is goals that matter. Football lost its innocence a long time ago. The days of the beautiful game as exemplified in artistry died in 1982 when a defense-minded and cynical Italian team eliminated perhaps the most accomplished Brazilian team of all time. The team of Brazilian magicians and artists included Zico, Falcao and Socrates who was a real doctor. The Italians set up their defence around Claudio Gentile and used long balls and furious counter attacks to win 3-2. Most purists see that day as the death date of Samba football in its purest form.

Perhaps a good showing by the Dutch in Brazil with the near revival of total football could revive the idea of football as art, or if you like, art for art’s sake in football. In the 21st century the idea of anything being done just for the beauty of it is a laughable myth. This is why even in this painful defeat the word “money” is playing its own subterranean part in the analyses of our 25 million coaches. “They” say that the match was played under a cloud generated by some unfinished “appearance money” palava. Say it is not true, Asamoah Gyan; personally I can’t believe that this issue had any significance on the field of play.

However, could this be true of Nigeria’s lethargic performance against Iran? Prior to the game, as always with Nigeria, there were murmurings of dissent in camp, money and other divisive issues. Again, remember that while we are blessed with ONLY 25 million coaches Nigeria boasts more than 150 million or so (we will only know the real number when they manage to have a credible census).

It is hard to get up and smile this morning but many of our countrymen and women are saying that we now only have to beat Germany and Portugal and there we go. Actually there is no other option but go along with this dream. The alternative is a nightmare; and we just woke up from one. Keep the dream alive.

Aluta Continua!

Columnist: Gyan-Apenteng, Kwasi