While I always I applaud our football teams when they do well, we should stop fooling and lying to ourselves when It comes to translating success at the youth level into the success of the Black Stars.
We all know that most of these players in the U-20 team are mostly Tema Youth players who play in the Ghana Premier League. They have been tried and tested in the local league. The fact that they play in a youth tournament does not make them eligible for the Black Stars at the expense of better players from the top teams like Kotoko, Hearts, Gold Fields, Medeama and Berekum Chelsea.
In recent times, Adiyiah formerly of Hearts of Lions made it to the Black Stars through youth tournaments while his contemporaries like Eric Bekoe, who was a better goal scorer in the local league did not get a chance to show his capabilities at the Black Star level.
We continue to make this mistake of rushing short, mature and mediocre players from average teams in the local league posing as youth players in youth tournaments into the Black Stars. Experience has indicated that we don’t get that much mileage from these guys, they usually retire a few years after the youth tournaments not having to growth vertically, but horizontally.
What are the criteria for getting into the Black Stars? I believe that it is selecting stunted growth, short and malnourished players from average teams in the Ghana Premier League and let them pose as youth players at a youth tournament and if they play well against the youth from other nations, bring them into the Black Stars. What sort of thinking is this? Did you watch the U-20 match Ghana against France? It was like watching giants against midgets. I have had enough of this midget experiment to win youth tournaments.
Now it is a wonder why the senior team has not won anything in over 30-years? Don’t we have tall and nourished U-20 youth in the nation to represent Ghana instead of the midgets we are constantly presenting to the world to see? Who really thinks with the exception of Baba Rahman, Boakye Yiadom, goal keeper Antwi and Michael Anaba, the rest will grow in height anymore?
Like prior former youth standouts like Awudu Issaka, Daniel Addo, and Nii Lamptey, they will grow horizontally, but not vertically. Like Nii Lamptey, Sadit Adams and Daniel Addo, most of these players are playing at their peak at these youth tournaments.
The short model is an approach to win youth tournaments, but not a long-term thinking to build a solid senior team. Unless we select youths who are nourished, tall and will grow, we should select players from the CHAN team which is composed of the best local players and give them a chance at the Black Stars and not these players we know will not grow and are too short to play for the best club teams in the World.
We have seen this movie too many times and it is becoming boring. Where is Isaac Asare, Christian Saba, Daniel Addo, Awudu Issaka, Sadit Adams, Ismeal Addo and the list goes on… Some people will mention Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, but these players are exceptional, unique and exemption to rule.
Daniel Addo was the best player in the 1993 U-17 World Cup in Japan.Players who played in that tournament like Francisco Totti and Buffon are still playing. In that tournament, Ghana beat Italy 4-1. While Italy groomed their youth for the future, (Totti and Buffon went on to win the 2006 Senior World Cup for Italy), Ghana wanted to win youth cups with stunted growth men.
This is the sort of mentality why Ghana has not won any senior trophies for over 30years. Most of these players are already mature and will not grow anymore. They are playing at their peak. They may be better playing against youths, as Dominic Adiyiah has shown, but they were not better against their peers at the local league.
The only reason most of them were selected for youth tournament is their stunted growth to pose as youths. They may be mistaken for youth, and playing for Tema Youth, but youths I doubt. Keep in mind FIFA in the past has punished Brazil, Mexico and Nigeria for age cheating, but these nations do not use the short model.
I say select mature players with height and size from the local league and give them a chance at the Black Stars instead of using youth tournaments to judge mature, stunted growth players who could not cut it at the local league and pushing them into the Black Stars. Now you know why most of the Black Stars players look malnourished and short.
The short selection model is outdated and nauseating for most Black Stars fans. For the future, we need an approach which contributes to build a solid Black Stars team to win trophies at the senior level. This Black Stars’ fan is no longer impressed with youth tournaments success; so far as the success does not translates into producing players with playing career longevity to help the Black Stars win African and World Cups.
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