Ghanaians are quick when it comes to hitting out at a particular sports man or sportsmen who are supposedly carrying the hopes of the entire nation anytime they enter their domain.
And so we all are witnesses to how sportsmen – be they boxers, footballers, athletes, weightlifters and many others have been at the center of media criticisms at the least blunder that they are deemed to have committed.
Permit me to mention a few examples across the sporting sphere; Aziz Zakari and his muscle pull episodes on the tracks, Clottey and Agbeko for their match losses lately in the ring not forgetting weightlifter Madjeti Fetri and his steroids case.
Footballers – be they playing at national levels or for their respective teams are no strangers to bashing by the public. Some are lucky enough to make amends, whiles for others; they sink and disappear into oblivion.
Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari, time without number have been in the bad books of the public; for what was seen as a lack of dedication and low patriotism to the national cause vis – a vis their club performances.
Asamoah Gyan is the single most demonized Ghanaian player in recent times, he is by far our savior when it comes to fetching goals. Many are those who have come in to help Gyan – Junior Agogo, Dominic Adiyiah, Mathew Amoah – and others; yet Gyan stands tall each time.
Yet he is known within some circles as ‘the heartbreaker when it matters most,’ this accolade is on the back of the many chances that he wastes before scoring one and more importantly the penalty miss against Uruguay at the World Cup in South Africa two years ago.
The recent past brings to the fore the very sad instance of ex Black Stars captain, who was before his career threatening injury, rated as the most dedicated Black Stars player.
Appiah suffered from serious attacks in the media – both from the populace and media people – with incessant calls for him to leave the team as his impact of the team was next to nothing.
Appiah finally ‘hanged his boots, at a time that Essien also called a temporary retirement on his national team career – even that would not go without accusations that both men had coordinated their absence from the national side.
The immediate past would be noted for one major talking point when the first Black Stars list was to be released by coach Goran Stevanovic, word was rife of the exclusion of two key players of the Black Stars – Richard Olele Kingson and Dominic Adiyiah.
For purposes of this piece, permit to put the spot light on Ghana’s safest pair of hands for the last decade or so, that Richard Olele Kingson was not going to be a part of the squad was the big news.
Ordinarily, that should not be a big deal especially if, and only if, there was an adequate replacement for the goalie, who had gathered so much experience at club level and more experience playing at tournaments as the one that was ahead of us – The African Cup of Nations – more so at a time that Ghana was gunning to win the trophy after three decades.
So who was coming to stand in place of ‘Olele’ it turned out to be the relatively younger Ghanaian goalie who had to switch nationality from Sweden. He plies his trade with Stromsgodset in Norway and had been monitored by the Black Stars handlers.
A hurt ‘Olele’ finally speaks, seeking to know the reasons for his exclusion from the squad. What went wrong with Olele and when, so as to warrant his exclusion?
I join him to ask but clearly those are decisions that the coach justifies only to the Football Association (FA) and not to individuals more so in the media; most likely on Televison or on radio.
But in making a comparative analysis of both men – Kingson and Kwarasey – what I see is a gulf between both men, can we in anyway compare their records relative to who has been to what tournament; certainly not.
If it is about Olele being clueless and not playing active football, I strongly contend that the man has proven his worth time again when he did not have any club engagements, Kwarasey’s action that gave him the first stop was a good day in post against Brazil in a friendly even though we lost the fixture; was that it?
There is always a first time, some would argue relative to Kwarasey’s involvement in the current squad. But could we afford to give someone a first chance when we are in search of an elusive trophy as the continental trophy?
I won’t try to guess what Olele would be thinking about talk within the media about how Kwarasey’s performed thus far at the tournament. Randy Abbey has spoken, fans are going on and on about his not being decisive enough and the pressure is piling on the shoulders of the man.
Hope though comes in a good defense line, John Painstil, John Boye, Issac Vorsah and Samuel Inkoom; if they give enough cover to Kwarasey, we should rest easy, we have just leaked our first goal, but it certainly loomed against Mali; it was only because the Malians lacked a Drogba like attacker to do the damage on three occasions I recount.
Set pieces are that part of the game that remain forever unpredictable and certainly with that, the entire team would have to fashion out a well cut out plan to keep away from committing too many fouls or defend well.
Now that we have tasted the feel of taking the ball out of our net, then the onus as always shall be on the attackers who have to work their way through the opposition’s resistance to deliver the goals – when they are needed most.
The team indeed is far from the trophy and any team that enters the knock out round is fit to go the long haul. The favorites tag is tied strongly to the word ‘upset’ at this stage and the team must avoid been added to the list of favorites who crushed out.
As always, we hope and wish strongly now more than ever that the team inches every step towards the top prize. GO BLACK STARS GO!!!
© Abdur Rahman Shaban Alfa (Scriptwriter, The President’s Assignment)