Sports Features Fri, 31 May 2019

Coach Kwesi Appiah must get it right this time

The likes of E.K Afarane, C.K Gyamfi, Fred Osam–Doudu, Sam Ardey, and sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, have all left some mark of greatness, contributing to the rich history of Ghana football.

Today, one can easily recall huge successes such as, Ghana's 1st place triumph at the 1978, "African Cup of Nations" under Osam Doudo. The dominance of 1963, 1965 and in 1982 on the African continent under C.K Gyamfi and many more. Who else can forget Egypt 2009, Ghana’s famous under 20 world cup win, under Coach Sellas Tetteh? And so on, the list of many achievements hold till present day. Indeed their incredible touch to the beautiful Ghanaian game cannot be overlooked.

Among all, one indigenous coach that has survived under huge criticism, undergone media scrutiny, and on record most celebrated as the only Ghanaian coach to have qualified the Black Stars, is James Kwesi Appiah.

The former Ghanaian skipper is famously hailed for his tactical antics and tremendous scouting abilities. His foresight and offering of opportunities has really helped Ghana in discovering many fantastic talents today. The likes of Abdul Madjid Waris, Christian Atsu, Baba Rahman, Afriye Aqcuah, Richard Ofori, and “power house” Mubarak Wakaso are some incredible additions he has brought to the team.

No doubts, his recent contribution to Ghana’s transitional system proves to be a record, one can hold in high esteem, an area his predecessor, “Avram Grant” always struggled with. However, what still remains ill-fated is Ghana’s tittle drought for the past 37 years. Despite incredible progress seen in the team , Ghana's struggle for a silver wear still remains as one of the most anticipated gist to break in African Football today.

With the dream to rekindle her glorious days still remaining elusive, Ghana has lost two (2) finals in (2010 & 2015) since Libya 1992. The (4) time African champions hold a fine record of maintaining a last four (4) appearance in the history of the competition since 2008.

The last time Ghana made her appearance was when she lost painfully to African giants Cameroon, in Gabon two (2) years ago, under Coach Kwesi Appiah. In recent times, the current Ghanaian coach has come under heavy criticism for his squad selection-criteria, call ups and overall team average-win in highly profiled competitive games. Certainly, one can admit that a return to the Black Stars after Brazil’s fiasco, hasn't been a walk in the park for the Ghanaian Coach, as several allegations of disunity in camp, rumors of personal logger heads with the Ayew brothers, and outstanding issues with suspended players (Sulley Muntari & Kevin Prince Boateng) still hovered around the team, when he rejoined in 2017.

The team kicked off their qualifying campaign in a grand style after Gabon's semi final exit, beating Ethiopia heavily on home soil. No doubt, this year's record of increased participation in the AFCON had influenced keen competition across Africa, as the likes of (South Africa, Burundi, Tanzania, Mauritania, and Kenya) all left out a pretty impression in this year's qualifying campaign.

Although a sudden scare from Kenya, an away loss, saw the Black Stars in a very precarious situation, the four (4) time African champions still went on to book their tickets to Egypt, kind courtesy of CAF 's disqualification on Serial ion earlier this year. Getting the results against Kenya in a returning encounter, really seemed like the right thing to do, as Appiah's Boys emerged group leaders on their way out to Egypt.

With less than a month to go, can Kwesi Appiah really walk in the prestigious shoes of his indigenous predecessors? This year's AFCON marks Kwesi Appiah's 3rd edition in charge, as head-coach of Ghana. One not only rallied by many in his second coming to finish what Avram Grant had started but also known for his sublime experience both on the continent, and from other expatriates he had served under. Kwesi Appiah would be hoping to deliver this time, after being denied twice in the last (4) stage of the tournament in both 2013 and 2017.

Ghana really looks forward in making an impressive return to the land of the Pyramids since 2006, as the Black Stars currently sit in Group (F) with old rival Cameroon, Benin and Guinea Bissau. A possible boost to the technical team, quality preparation and a wining bonus cushion from the government, should see the senior national soccer team, rise to the occasion when needed.

In recent times, domestic football People (the media & local fun base) have bemoaned over the absence of a tittle for more than a decade. The patriotic concern that perhaps, this generation hasn't still fulfill the purpose of their calling, has been the only dark cloud hovering around the team for a while now. Will Ghana finally end the bragging rights of her passed glory with a 5th tittle? Only time will tell, as the team once nicknamed "Baghana Baghana" on the continent, seek to break one of the most anticipated gist in African Football today.

Source: Cleveland Dromo Oddoye
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