The eventual announcement of a 23-man squad by Coach Avram Grant yesterday for the crucial Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Egypt on November 13 put paid to the growing anxiety among Ghanaians over the speculated return into the Black Stars of Kevin-Prince Boateng.
The controversial midfielder, who was dismissed from the Stars’ camp, alongside Sulley Ali Muntari, during the Brazil 2014 World Cup following an altercation with the then head coach, Kwasi Appiah, was rumoured to be on his way back after expressing interest in returning to the team during an interview with CCTV Africa last week.
In the said interview, Boateng, who is currently in a rich vein of form for Las Palmas in the Spanish La Liga, said he still did not know why he was bundled out of the Stars, since the reasons assigned for his dismissal were all made up.
While Ghanaians were still divided over the player’s return into the team, then emerged another school of thought that maintained that it was Coach Grant who actually expressed interest in Kevin-Prince, who once played under him at Portsmouth in the English Premiership.
Indeed, that call heightened anxiety among Ghanaians regarding the status of the player, until the Ghana Football Association (GFA) finally came out (reference our Mid-week Edition) to emphasise that both Boateng and Muntari, who had earlier apologised for his misdeeds in Brazil, remained banned per a decision by the GFA’s Executive Committee, as well as the Government’s White Paper on the Dzamefe Commission’s report on the Brazil 2014 Inquiry.
That notwithstanding, proponents of the Kevin-Prince theory still hoped for a back-door manoeuvring for his late inclusion in the team, as was the case in the 2010 and the 2014 World Cups when he dramatically made the final squad at the last minute.
However, the tide was finally stemmed yesterday when Grant released his list for the Stars’ game against the Pharaohs of Egypt next weekend, minus Boateng, much to our relief.
But conspicuously missing from the much-anticipated squad were Skipper Asamoah Gyan and the Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah, both of whom are still battling with nagging injuries, while Grant has handed debut call-ups to two youngsters, Alhassan Wakaso and Andy Yiadom, for this all-important assignment.
We pause here to applaud whoever slammed the door on Kevin-Prince, especially at this crucial stage when the senior national team needs peace and cohesion to confront the dicey Pharaohs challenge.
We believe that, apart from everything, the timing was simply not right for anybody to have entertained such a gamble with a player with such a bloated ego who caused a lot of commotion in camp during the Stars’ last World Cup campaign in Brazil.
We also hold the view that it would have been quite suicidal to invite a player who is still remorseless after his face-off with Coach Appiah, not to talk of his arrogant stance against some top FA officials whom he accused of enjoying some privileges which were supposed to be enjoyed by only the players.
Above all, since the Stars have been better off over the past two years without Boateng and his ilk, we think it would not be in the nation’s interest if the player is included in the squad.
Once the White Paper has ruled him out, we urge all Ghanaians to respect the law and let the status quo remain for the sake of peace.
For us, if the absence of Kevin-Prince is the reason the Black Stars cannot make it to the World Cup in Russia in 2018, so be it!