Akwasi Appiah and Kwesi Nyantakyi have done a great disservice to Mother Ghana.

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A schoolof thought strongly believes that it is unethical to select a local coach for African National Teams. I tend to gravitate towards that group for I sometimes believe that African Coaches are toxins to the fortunes of their own National Teams.

In Nigeria there was a certain Clemence Westerhoff who became Coach of the Nigeria National Football Team in the late early Nineties. He brought along his countryman, Bonfrere Jo and paid him out of his salary to train the National Team. The team chalked one success after the other for it was under his tutelage that Nigeria qualified for the World Cup for the first time.

But there was little time for celebrations. He encountered a lot of frustrations in his assignment. Obstacles were physically put on his way to ensure that he did not succeed. Many verbal exchanges took place between the Oyibo Coach and the football administrators in the country.

For example, some highly placed staff would lock up the training kits and go home with the keys. A Nigerian coach would have become helpless. But not this Dutchman! On finding out where the kits were kept, he would go for a hammer and personally force open the door to the room where the kits were kept, and take what was necessary for the training. He was the idol of the players.

His successor was Bonfrere Jo. He too did not have it easy. It was under him that Nigerian Dream Team to the Olympics Game in Los Angeles won the Gold Medal in Soccer. During the draw for the Olympics Games in Los Angeles, the NFA conspicuously left him behind in Nigeria. But Bonfrere Jo knew his sauce. He made the necessary contacts and got to the venue before the draws were held.

Local Coach of the Nigerian National Team, Shuaib Amodu did not have it easy either. The politics at play was too much for him to contain. The Football administrators in the country made sure that the ?son of the soil? failed in his primary assignment. They never paid him his winning bonuses and was owed many arrears of salaries. The man was suffering but could not complain. However, the wife could not be gagged. She cried out and asked those responsible to pay her husband his outstanding salaries. The NFA said the woman had said the ?unsayable? and ordered the husband to recant and apologise. When he failed to do so within the stipulated time given by the Football Federation, the man was sacked.

I have gone this length to illustrate the frustrations local African coaches go through anytime they refuse to play ball with those at the helm of Football Federations in their respective countries. Most of them end up being ?Yes men? to their pay masters as they go through the difficult task of defending obnoxious policies, including even the indefensible.

Unfortunately, Akwasi Appiah, Head Coach of the Ghana Black Stars appears to have fallen into the category of such coaches. Every thing points to the fact that he is being used to continue the battle which GFA Chairman, Akwasi Nyantakyi couldn?t win in his titanic battle with Ghana?s soccer maestro, Abedi Ayew Pele. If this was not the case, what tangible reason does he have to exclude Andre Dede Ayew from the team to the up-coming AFCON tournament to be hosted by South Africa?

The official source from Andre Dede Ayew?s French Club, Marseilles stated he was injured and would be out for about One Week. Fair enough.

Akwasi Appiah and Akwasi Nyantakyi, the Generalissimos of Ghana Football had issued an ultimatum to invited members of the Black Stars to report at their training base in Abu Dhabi by Saturday, 5th January, 2012. Dede?s own was extended to Monday, 7th January, 2012. The player informed the Coach that the Monday?s deadline would not be feasible since he had an appointment with his physician on that day. He however made it known that he would be in Ghana the following day, Tuesday, 8th January, 2013. Deadline for submission of Ghana?s list of players taking part in the tournament was Wednesday, 9th January, 2013. That would give Akwasi Appiah and Akwasi Nyantakyi 24 good hours to meet CAF?S deadline.

But no, the duo of Akwasi Appiah and Akwasi Nyantakyi would have none of that. An opportunity had come for the GFA Chairman, through his prot?g? (Akwasi Appiah) to cut the soccer maestro (Abedi Pele) to size by telling him to the face that they now control football in the country. The Head Coach of the National Team and the Chairman of GFA are the new Pharaohs who do not know Joseph. The two maintained their rigid position. A communiqu? was issued supposedly by Akwasi Appiah that Andre Dede Ayew had been axed from the Ghana?s Black Stars team to the AFCON Tournament holding in South Africa. But I believe it was the hand of Esau that tele-guided that exclusion.

Now the posers: Would Akwasi Appiah and Akwasi Nyantakyi tell us how many times they have spent the tax-payers? money to travel outside the country to monitor Ghanaian players playing in foreign leagues to ascertain their performances and decide which of them merited invitation to the National team?

Again, do Akwasi Appiah and Akwasi Nyantakyi want to tell Ghanaians that when Kevin Boateng and Asamoah Gyan decided not to play in for Ghana again, they never made personal visits to them, all at the tax-payer?s expense all in an effort to convince them to rescind their decision?

In the case of Asamoah Djan, a carrot in the form of captainship of the Black Stars was dangled before him to entice him to rescind his decision and play for the national team. What prevented Akwasi Appiah and Akwasi Nyantakyi from extending similar courtesies to Andre Dede Ayew, if they did not have any hidden agenda? I mean, couldn?t the country have paid a penalty for late submission if the two were sincere in their resolve to ensure that every qualified player was given a level playing ground to exhibit his skills at the tournament?

What prevented the capos of Ghana? football from sending the so-called medical experts to France to ascertain the extent of Dede?s injury? The player had indicated that he had a scheduled appointment with his doctor. The best thing any proactive coach and the soccer administrator would do under the circumstances is to liaise with the medical team of the player?s club and if possible to send a representative to join the team so as to know the true state of affairs pertaining to the injury. Between Abu Dhabi and France, which of the two countries have better medical facilities?

Couldn?t Akwasi Appiah and the GFA have arranged things to enable Dede go through the so-called medical examination the moment he arrived in the country straight from the airport on that Tuesday?

The argument by Akwasi Appiah and Akwasi Nyantakyi that he wanted every player to fight for a shirt is not tenable here. That argument was flawed right from the beginning for it was an indication that they did not intend to include Dede in their squad. How did they expect Dede who was nursing an injury to fight for a shirt? Were they going to subject him to a physical training on the field to ascertain his level of competence?

It is an undeniable fact that Dede Ayew is a utility player. His exploits in the French league is well known.?? I have no doubt that if he had joined the national squad, he would excel. And we were told that he would be out for only about one week. Any good coach worth his sauce would give such a player the benefit of the doubt by not putting impediment on his way. But not Akwasi Appiah and Akwasi Nyantakyi! Why? Because they have a hidden agenda!

In the 1990 World Cup fiesta, 36 year old Roger Milla who had quit playing active football was prevailed upon to play for the Indomitable Lions (Cameroonian National Team) by President Paul Biya. He liaised with the Coach who agreed to give the ?old man? an opportunity in the team. The player exhibited his talented skills by scoring four very important goals for his team. That took Cameroonian to the Quarter Final Stage ? the first time an African Country had ever reached such level in any such world football fiesta. Milla?s skill in ?makossa? dance was unearthed at the soccer fiesta. The coach did not say Milla should fight for a shirt before being allowed to join the squad.

In the 1974 World Cup, Paulo Rossi who had been banned from playing football by the Italian Football Association was pardoned by the Federation. He led Italy to win the World Cup by scoring very important goals for his country. Quite recently, Emmanuel Adebayo who had announced his retirement from international football rescinded his decision. He has been embraced into the fold by the Coach and the Togolese Football Federation. Why? It is because goldfish has no hiding place. Adebayo is a golden fish in Togo. In Ghana, Andre Dede Ayew is one of our gold fishes in football.

I am not asking that Dede be treated differently from other players because he is the son of Abedi Pele. No! But what I am saying is that he be given what he deserves because he has paid his dues. You see, there are eggs and there are eggs, for it is not every egg that can be hatched into a chicken. He is a rare species. Not all players are in that category. Dede, Asamoah Gyan and a few others are in a class of their own.

You see, in the late sixties and early seventies, there was a female athlete nicknamed ?Abetifi mustang?. Young as she was, she preferred to run bare footed and carved a niche for herself here and in Africa. Then came the Commonwealth Games. The Ghana Athletics Federation left her behind even though she had met the requirement to be part of the country?s contingent to the Games. People attributed that to being ugly. Whatever reason it was, I cannot say but I think beauty was not on her side. Public outcry against her non-inclusion was so much that Government waded into the crises and sent her to join the team. But by the time she arrived at the Games, her event had already taken place. The effect was to devastating for her. We never heard of her again. And that was how some few people conspired amongst themselves to ruin the budding career of an up-coming athlete.

But things have changed. It is a pride to play for one?s country. Dede does not need playing in the national team to launch his soccer career. He has already made a name for himself. If any team wants to sign him on, all it has to do is to monitor his performance in the French League, and pronto, the deal will be clinched. But playing in the National team is an added pride and shows patriotism. But if selection to the national team is based on favouritism and other parochial interests, then it is time we said goodbye to the spirit of excellence, patriotism, hard work and what have you.

One thing people tend to overlook is that when these players go on national assignment and are injured it is their respective clubs which bear their brunt of their treatment. The two times Michael Essien got injured while playing for the national team, it was his club, then Chelsea which took care of his medical bills and upkeep. And if players would be treated like this, will it be worthy to die for one?s country?

Let not Ghana repeat the shameful incident which occurred some years ago during the AFCON hosted by Cote d?Ivoire. GFA officials shamelessly humiliated one of its leading players, Samuel Osei Kufuor. Officially, the football federation had accused him of breaking camp rules by attending a disco in Abidjan by dispatching him home. Nothing that the player said would make the powers that be change their mind. They crucified Osei Kufuor and so the man died.

At the end of the year when it came to the selection of the Best African Player of the Year, the GFA shamelessly made a u-turn to support the stone which it had rejected. Osei Kufuor was amongst the three finalists short-listed for the award. He lost it due to the treachery and lack of vision on the part of the GFA

Are we going to have a similar scenario in Dede?s case? Can Akwasi Appiah and Akwasi Nyantakyi look Ghanaians in the eye and tell us that the non-inclusion of Dede Ayew in Ghana?s team to the AFCON tournament was done with the best of intentions?

For me all that I can say is that it is early days yet. The nest few days will give us an idea of the conspiracy that took place and the faceless and shameless individual hiding under the cloak of power brokers who took such a decision that has brought the country?s football to a cross road. I pray and hope that Akwasi Appiah and Akwasi Nyantakyi succeed in clinching the Cup which has eluded the country for more than Thirty One Bad Years. I sincerely hope they succeed.

If they should fail, and God forbid they do not, they should not venture to return to the country. They should take the next available place to seek refuge with the Boko Harem enclave in Northern Nigeria. We shall skin them alive if they retune without the cup. I mean the Gold and nothing less. To be forewarned is to be fore-armed. I have spoken.

Daniel Danquah Damptey (0243715297) (damptey_daniel@yahoo.com)

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