36
Sports Features Sun, 6 Oct 2013

What wrong has Richard Kingson committed

Since news broke out that Black Stars Coach James Kwesi Appiah has travelled to Cyprus to monitor and hold talks with former first choice goalkeeper for Ghana’s Black Stars, Richard Kingson for a possible call-up back into the Black Stars, a section of the public especially some media practitioners and football administrators have launched a scattering attack on the player.

While some people questioned Kingson’s ability to deliver others went to the extent of attacking the personality of the player using his age as yardstick. The last qualifier against Zambia and a friendly against Japan clearly demonstrate that the Black Stars have goal-keeping problems.

Current first choice goal keeper Fatau Dauda made numerous mistakes and succeeded in catching most balls only on second attempt.

As the team prepares for the two-leg final play-off tie against Egypt to secure qualification to next year’s World Cup in Brazil Coach Appiah had to invite all players capable of helping to achieve that dream as the first indigenous coach to qualify Ghana for the World Cup. Out of the 25-man squad Kingson has been singled out by a section of the public for negative, biased and damaging criticism.

Honestly every true soccer fan who wants to see the Stars at the next World Cup will definitely call on the technical team and management to have a second look at the team’s defence(back four) and goalkeeping judging from performance of last Group qualifier against Zambia in Kumasi as well as their friendly against Japan. With Fatau Dauda not enjoying active play at club level thereby looking jittery in the Zambia game and with Adam Kwarasey being reported injured (during the said matches) many stakeholders(including) myself called for the call-up of Kingson since the former first choice has secured a club and enjoying active football coupled with good outing for his Doxa club in Cyprus, something that denied him his place in the team two years ago.

Soon after, I read an article about former Stars skipper Stephen Appiah and former national goalie Abubakari Damba making similar appeals.

This is because Kingson has always proved in the Black Stars that he is a dependable goalie and I was glad when GFA Boss Kwesi Nyantakyi confirmed this in an interview that “with Richard Kingson whenever he is in the post and in-form you can go to sleep”.

It is so shameful that commentaries and articles on Kingson after his inclusion in the squad has been centered on his age and not his current form (if indeed those making such negative remarks about him have seen him play with his new Doxa club in Cyprus).

While some think at thirty-five he is too old for a call-up, others argue that he has faked his age and therefore has lost his reflexes and cannot perform well due to his age; something that pushed me to write this article.

As a Ghanaian I have come to realize that we often destroy what we have and cherish what we cannot have.

My question is, what role does age play in a player’s life when the said player keeps performing well? At least it is a proven fact that goalkeepers, unlike outfield players always plays the game longer and most often turn out to even perform better as they grow older.

At age 40, Australian Mark Schwarzer is with English Premiership side Chelsea and has been registered for both the Barclays Premiership and the Uefa Champions League. At 35, Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon is a first choice goalkeeper for Juventus and performing well. Even in his early 40’s, America’s Brad Friedel is with English Premiership side Tottenham Hotspurs and the world witnessed the exploits of Dutch goal keeper Edwin Van Der Sar at his late 30’s and at 40 when he was with Manchester United.

Many have argued that Manchester United is yet to find a replacement in Van Der Sar. Can’t we say the same about Danish Peter Schmeichel when he was with Manchester United? The same about Jens Lehmann of Germany and Arsenal fame when in his late 30’s? England’s David Seaman also proved a better goalkeeper even in his late 30’s. Italy’s Dino Zoff, is on record to have recorded his most outstanding World Cup performance/tournament ever when he was 40 and played in the 1982 World Cup.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland's most capped players are all goalkeepers, namely Peter Shilton (125), Neville Southall (91) and Pat Jennings (119).

So why should some Ghanaians especially some media practitioners who are supposed to know better think that at age 35 Kingson is old and does not deserve a national team call-up even when he is playing actively and performing better than some of our young goalkeepers.

And besides, Kingson being invited does not mean he has an automatic place in the starting eleven until he proves to the technical team that he is the best in shape and battle ready than the other goalkeepers invited.

It only makes sense if Kingson has been given the nod and performed below expectation against Egypt that most of these criticism and damaging articles can be justified. Casting my mind back to matches that Kingson has played for the Black Stars since his second-romance with the team ahead of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, I don’t recall a single game that he has performed so poor until Ghana’s 3-1 win against Congo at the Kumasi Stadium two years ago in a Nations Cup Qualifier where he miscalculated a back pass that led to a consolation goal for the Congolese.

Kingson has always performed well whenever with the Black Stars an issue that made him enjoyed call-ups from every coach that took charge of the national team. Kingson was rated as the best keeper in Africa and was voted third best at the 2006 World Cup in Germany behind Gianluigi Buffon and Ricardo.

We all saw his exploits when after missing almost all our key players, he guided a young Black Stars team to the finals of the 2010 Nations Cup in Angola. The same can be said of him at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, 2010 in South Africa not forgetting his performance in the 2008 Cup of Nations hosted in Ghana.

At least every Ghanaian soccer fan wants to see the Stars answer the roll call in Brazil next year and I hope and know the one who wants that feat most is the head Coach Kwesi Appiah and GFA Boss Kwesi Nyantakyi.

So if the technical team and for that matter the Coach believes Kingson at the moment can extend help him securing that feat, all we need to do as a passionate soccer nation is to extent support to the team that has been assembled so that they record victory against Egypt and secure qualification to the World Cup rather than doing damage to the team and individual players just few days to such crucial encounter.

Some soccer fans hate Kingson for dislodging former first choice goalkeeper Sammy Adjei to become the Stars number one. Over the years there have been calls to rotate the Stars goalkeeping between the two. But common sense should tell us that no coach will do that in an area such as goalkeeping.

The best a coach will do if he hasn’t gotten a back-up will be to try other goalkeepers in less competitive or friendly games until he has gotten his back-up. The case ends there until the first choice begins to show that he is getting out-of-form.

How many years was former Liverpool first choice goalkeeper Pepe Reina deputized for Ike Casillas at the Spanish National team? How many years did Jens Lehmann deputize for Oliver Kahn at the German national team even when he was in top form for Arsenal? Egypt won the Africa Cup of Nations three times in a row because they never gambled with their established first choice goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary and never overhauled their team.

It’s also unfortunate that colleagues (sports journalists) who should know better are now found joining the bandwagon and doing the opposite. This has over the years made it often difficult for society to acknowledge the good works of the sports journalist since the pseudo ones among us keep mudding the waters whenever the good ones try to keep it clean, an issue that made former Kumasi Asante Kotoko CEO, K.K Sarpong to label Ghanaian sports journalists as illiterates. I never agreed with the former CEO but sometimes you are forced to succumb to such statements when you monitor the out put of some sports journalists.

It is said that Coaches are hired and fired based on their performance and Kwesi Appiah is well aware of this. Aside making history as the first indigenous Coach to qualify Ghana for the World Cup, Appiah knows that failure to do so will cost him his job.

Attacking the person of Kingson is not reasonable because, he did not invite himself into the Black Stars but was invited by the Coach who needs his services.

Why attack a player who never complained about being left out in the National Team for years?

Oldest World Cup Players Are Goalkeepers

Portsmouth’s James, who was the starting goalkeeper for England at the June 11 to July 11 world cup finals, turns 40 less than a month after the final, while Dutch goalkeeper Boschker, is two and a half months younger. What makes Boschker’s call-up surprising is that the 39-year-old, who has just won the Dutch League with Twente at the time , had not played a single game for Oranje going into the tournament.

He followed in the footsteps of Jan Jongbloed, who in 1974 was not expecting to play, but then ended up being first choice and played in the final against Germany. He also played in the 1978 final against Argentina as a 37-year-old.

Compared to James and Boschker, Hahnemann and Schwarzer are practically spring chickens at age 37. Given that he turns 37 in November, the World Cup brought down the curtain on the glittering international career of Mexico striker Cuauhtemoc Blanco which has seen him amass 118 caps as of early June. Of the 11 oldest players in the squads in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, seven were goalkeepers, which suggest that most coaches are looking for experience when it comes to the man between the poles.

During the 1980s Hugo Orlando Gatti was a mainstay at Boca Juniors. One of Argentina's greatest ever keepers with a knack of saving penalties, he finally retired in 1988 at age 44 while still at Boca.

Writer: REXFORD NII ARYEE TETTEH

PITTSBURGH PENNSYLVANIA, USA.

(niiayitetteh@gmail.com)

Ghana Richard KINGSON

(13/06/1978) Record at FIFA Tournaments

Tournaments Editions MP W D L GF GA Y 2YC R

FIFA World Cup™ Final 2006, 2010 9 4 2 3 0 10 0 0 0

FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 20 11 4 5 0 17 2 0 0

FIFA World Cup

Edition Venue Date Match Stage

2010 Johannesburg 02/07/2010 URU 1:1 a.e.t. (1:1, 0:1) 4:2 PSO GHA Quarter-finals

2010 Rustenburg 26/06/2010 USA 1:2 a.e.t. (1:1, 0:1) GHA Round of 16

2010 Johannesburg 23/06/2010 GHA 0:1 (0:0) GER First stage

2010 Rustenburg 19/06/2010 GHA 1:1 (1:1) AUS First stage

2010 Tshwane/Pretoria 13/06/2010 SRB 0:1 (0:0) GHA First stage

2006 Dortmund 27/06/2006 BRA 3:0 (2:0) GHA Round of 16

2006 Nuremberg 22/06/2006 GHA 2:1 (2:1) USA Group matches

2006 Cologne 17/06/2006 CZE 0:2 (0:1) GHA Group matches

2006 Hanover 12/06/2006 ITA 2:0 (1:0) GHA Group matches

FIFA World Cup™ Qualifiers

Edition Venue Date Match Stage

2010 Kumasi 15/11/2009 GHA 2:2 (0:1) MLI Third stage

2010 Cotonou 11/10/2009 BEN 1:0 (0:0) GHA Third stage

2010 Accra 06/09/2009 GHA 2:0 (1:0) SDN Third stage

2010 Omdurman 20/06/2009 SDN 0:2 (0:1) GHA Third stage 2010 Bamako 07/06/2009 MLI 0:2 (0:0) GHA Third stage 2010 Kumasi 29/03/2009 GHA 1:0 (1:0) BEN Third stage 2010 Sekondi 11/10/2008 GHA 3:0 (2:0) LES Second stage 2010 Tripoli 05/09/2008 LBY 1:0 (0:0) GHA Second stage

2010 Accra 22/06/2008 GHA 2:0 (1:0) GAB Second stage

2010 Libreville 14/06/2008 GAB 2:0 (1:0) GHA Second stage

2010 Mangaung/Bloemfontein 08/06/2008 LES 2:3 (0:2) GHA Second stage

2010 Kumasi 01/06/2008 GHA 3:0 (1:0) LBY Second stage

2006 Kinshasa 27/03/2005 COD 1:1 (0:1) GHA Second stage

2006 Ouagadougou 05/06/2004 BFA 1:0 (0:0) GHA Second stage

2002 Accra 28/01/2001 GHA 1:3 (0:1) LBR Second stage

2002 Accra 09/07/2000 GHA 5:0 (1:0) SLE Second stage

2002 Accra 23/04/2000 GHA 3:2 (2:1) TAN First stage

2002 Arusha 08/04/2000 TAN 0:1 (0:1) GHA First stage

1998 Kumasi 12/01/1997 GHA 2:2 (0:1) MAR Second stage

1998 Libreville 10/11/1996 GAB 1:1 (0:0) GHA Second stage

Source: http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/statisticsandrecords/players/player=170232/index.html

Oldest Players in World Cup History

Player Edition Date First Match Stage Age

Roger MILLA 1994 28/06/1994 RUS 6:1 (3:0) CMR Group matches 42Y-01M-08D Pat JENNINGS 1986 12/06/1986 NIR 0:3 (0:2) BRA Group matches 41Y-00M-00D Peter SHILTON 1990 07/07/1990 ITA 2:1 (0:0) ENG Match for third place 40Y-09M-19D Dino ZOFF 1982 11/07/1982 ITA 3:1 (0:0) FRG Final 40Y-04M-13D Ali BOUMNIJEL 2006 23/06/2006 UKR 1:0 (0:0) TUN Group matches 40Y-02M-10D

Source: http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/statisticsandrecords/tournaments/worldcup/players/index.html#to

Source: Rexford Nii Aryee Tetteh(GA MANTSE)