The Black Stars and Ghana’s future in football

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Tue, 25 Oct 2016 Source: Pobee-Mensah, Tony

Often times our players have confidently told us they are going to win games and often times they have barely won if they won at all. Before the game against Uganda, we had it in the bag if you listened to the players. In the end, we only managed a draw in a home game.

Before anyone thinks this is a knock on the Black Stars, it is not. I always declare myself the number one supporter of the Black Stars and will fight a duel with anyone who thinks I am not. This is to express a concern: a concern I have expressed many times in the past.

First, GFA took a world class team to the World Cup and lost the game for us. Since then, I have not seen anything that makes me confident that the GFA is in any better position to manage the Black Stars any differently.

Sulley Muntari is a great player and we need him in the team. He was out of line I will admit and so were the officials he had issues with. Since then the GFA has not been able to resolve the issue to get him back in the team. GFA’s problem is that they want to be disciplinarians rather than authorizing body. If you are a disciplinarian, you discipline people. If you are an authorizing body, you accept people as they come as long as they follow specified rules and issue a specified punishment that will bring the issue to finality rather than leave it open ended.

In other places, an offending player is given a specified suspension; for instance a four game suspension; or a fine or both and then everyone moves on. If the offense is serious, the player is simply dismissed from the team and thus the finality. We the Ghanaian football fans are left in limbo in what looks like cutting our nose to spite our face with no adult in the room to make a kind gesture. I think it is time for GFA to reach out to Mr. Muntari.

How does GFA do this reaching out? Invite Mr. Muntari to a meeting making it clear to him that the GFA is ready to put the issue behind them at the meeting. Invite the official that Mr. Muntari offended to the meeting, have the two shake hands, and then walk out to a press conference and announce that Mr. Muntari has issued a verbal apology and the apology was accepted and the issue is over, Mr. Mutari is free to play for the Black Stars.

On winning games, as I have said, the players always say confidently that they will win games and wind up disappointing us. I have spent many years watching the dynamics of football and have long come to the conclusion that while we are highly skill team, the way we play is not conducive to winning.

Before the last World Cup, I wrote an article saying that we should kick the ball farther, run more and take more shots at goal and did mention that that’s how the Americans played. A comment to that article questioned why I would want us to play like the Americans when we have beaten them twice. Well, the results of the game against America makes my point for me.

Anyone who watched the game against America, I am sure, rated us the better team. The way we play, i.e. trying to create opening before we take a shot at goal allow plenty of time for the opposing team to get in front of the goal thus reducing our chances of scoring. I will offer our game against Algeria in the 2015 AFCON games as an example of a winning play, even though we waited until a time of desperation to employ that tactic. Does anyone remember the Mubarak Wakaso-Asamoah Djan combination at the 2015 AFCON? I have preached over and over again in article after article that this is the way to play. We should make long passes, focus on playing the game on the opponent’s half of the field, and take many, many shots at goal. I have every confidence that we have the skills necessary to hold our own if not win outright if we resort to playing this way.

While I have not watched our recent game against Uganda, a game our players were sure they were going to win, what I have read tells me that we played our usual game and allowed the Ugandans to bunch up at the goal and deny us a chance to score. We should break such plays. If we can’t take a quick shot at goal, we could probably kick the ball in such a way as to force a corner kick. We have to do something different or we risk falling from grace.

A word of warning before I end. When we played Senegal in the 2015 AFCON games, a game we lost, it was very clear to me that the Senegalese were bigger than us. If someone is bigger than you, on strength pound for pound, the bigger person will always have an advantage no matter how you cut it. Many of the Eastern and Southern Africans are taller than us and unless something changes, which will not be competitive on that score any time soon, we will always be at a disadvantage. The only thing we have is our skill. We should make it work for us. Having an opposing team bunch up at the goal is not a way to make your skill work for you because no matter how skillful, geometry says you can’t score with many people between you and the goal trying to stop you. In that case, we can only count on luck. Do we want to count on luck to win games?

Ghana has shown all of Africa that there is glory in being a good team at the World Cup. All African countries want to be where we are and they are gunning for us. I am sure they are constantly thinking if only they can get through Ghana.

Our coaches can continue with our style of play and watch us fall from grace or insist on long passes, increase shots at goal and field more and more of those players who are able to take more shots at goal and watch us bring home the glory once again.

Tony Pobee-Mensah

Source: Pobee-Mensah, Tony