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Would Ghanaians Ever Learn to Believe in Themselves?

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

The pithiness of this article should eliminate any distractions for the reader, as I have carefully chosen, due to time constraints, the most important issues that we need to discuss at the moment. This piece is about the brouhaha over the selection of a new head coach for the senior national team, the Black Stars, and how we can move forward as a nation, especially in the aftermath of the sacking of the team's current head coach, Goran Stevanovic.

Goran Stevanovic 's role as head coach of the senior national team, the Black Stars, has come to an end. We all can live with that fact. Well, I must admit that, while a larger segment of Ghanaian football fans is elated, a smaller segment of fans is worried that this decision by Kwesi Nyantakyi and his deputies may lead to future poor performances by the team, more so because the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and 2014 World Cup qualifiers are only a few months away.

Interestingly, Ghana has had a succession of Serb coaches, and while the first one, Ratomir Dujkovic, took the nation to the second round at Germany 2006, his successor, Milovan Rajevac, went a step further: he took the nation to the quarterfinal round at South Africa 2010. These are undoubtedly moderate successes, I would admit, but we all seem to forget that it was a combination of team cohesion, confidence and some individual virtuosity, epitomized by the indefatigable and affable Stephen Appiah, that provided Ghana those successes at the 2006 and 2010 World Cup tourneys. The two World Cup teams had improved drastically just at the right time, and had any other coaches taken those teams to the aforementioned world cup tourneys, Ghana would have performed just as creditably or better.

That said, Stevanovic is gone and there is no need to look back. But why have we always gone for these lowly foreign coaches and made them famous, when we have always had better qualified and more patriotic Ghanaian coaches? Is it possible for a foreigner to love our nation and our national team more than a Ghanaian would? It appears somewhat that Nyantakyi and his deputies have not learned any lessons the last few years. What exactly is the reason for employing these lowly foreign coaches? If Nyantakyi and his assistants at the Ghana Football Association (GFA) have nothing to benefit directly from the appointments of Serbs, then it is time for these men at the GFA to show us that the nation comes first. Indeed, the longsuffering Ghanaian football fan should reject any calls to bring in another ordinary Serb, whose salary may just be too fat for an impoverished nation such as ours.

It is time for the managers of the senior national team to look within the nation's borders to find and appoint a new substantive coach. We presently have Marcel Desailly, Abedi Pele, Tony Yeboah, and Sellas Tetteh, who, by the way, brought the nation the 2009 Under-20 World Cup diadem, a feat that is unequalled on the African continent. Then, of course, the four continental trophies that we have won as a nation were under the tutelage of Ghanaian coaches. C.K. Gyamfi won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1963, 1965, and 1982, and Osam Duodu took the honors in 1978. In spite of all these accomplishments, Ghanaian football administrators still have no faith in Ghanaian coaches? Whew! What is wrong with us as a people? It is time that Ghanaians demand that a person with blood ties to the nation be appointed as head coach of the Black Stars.

On June 13, 2010, after Ghana had beaten Serbia in that group's opening match at South Africa 2010, Milovan Rajevac remarked, "Of course for me personally in my job this is a great victory but I'm sorry for the Serbian team. Maybe we got lucky, they're a very good team and it's difficult to play against them." Maybe we got lucky? Is that how a coach motivates his players? This Serb was simply distraught: the Black Stars had defeated his countrymen on the world's biggest stage, and this fact was simply too hard for Rajevac to accept. Folks, it is time we begin to trust ourselves to get the job done. There is no way a foreigner is going to love our nation as he does his own, so why do we keep turning to these lowly coaches from Eastern Europe?

Let us give Marcel Desailly (Odenke Abbey) a chance to coach the Black Stars, more so because the man has, explicitly and implicitly, expressed his readiness for the job. Desailly may have spent his adult years playing for France, but, deep down, he sees himself as a Ghanaian, and no one has the right to take that away from him. Of course, we also have Ghana's greatest midfielder of all time, Abedi Pele, and the nation's best striker of all time, Tony Yeboah – and either man is very capable of coaching the senior national team. Finally, we should also consider Sellas Tetteh, who has already left ineffaceable footprints in the sands of global football. It is time to turn away from these lowly foreign coaches and give the job to one of our own!

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, is pursuing a doctoral degree in Criminology, Law & Society at George Mason University. He invites the reader to join the pressure group "Good Governance in Ghana" on Facebook.com. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.