Feature: Let's tread cautiously!

Author: Ebo Kwaitoo
Dr Kofi Amoah

Last Thursday's interview by the president of the Normalisation Committee (NC), Dr Kofi Amoah, on Metro TV's Good Evening Ghana made interesting watching. At least it answered some vital questions which were bothering the minds of many people in the football industry.

However, I think Dr Amoah's view on the inclusion of Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng, in the Black Stars squad for AFCON 2019 was a faux pas. Let me quickly say that the nation's desperation to break the 37-year AFCON drought should not push us to take certain decisions whose consequences could be more disastrous.

I will not blame Dr Amoah much for that desperate call since every good leader is result-oriented. As he himself put it, he didn't see his advice to Coach Kwasi Appiah to consider sending Muntari and Boateng to AFCON 2019 as an imposition but as another dimension of decision-meaning. As a leader myself, I cannot pretend to hang the NC boss for that strong position which was borne out of passion.

That reminds me of how one Sports Minister, who is still alive, described the imposition of players and his personal decisions on national coaches as not being interference but strategic intervention back in the days. We have come a long way. What a country!

I can't also begrudge Muntari for longing to feature for the Black Stars in Egypt, even if for just 15 minutes, due to his passion for his country as was quoted by Dr Amoah. Every well-meaning citizen wants to die for his motherland.

But the point is, do these two players have the kind of form the Stars requires to help him deliver on his mandate in Egypt? In terms of past glory, Muntari and Boateng can be described as world class players. But the same cannot be said of them currently as they struggle at club level, meaning the duo do not meet the coach's criteria of seeking only active players for the AFCON.

Much as it is the nation's dream to win her fifth AFCON in Egypt, with President Nana Akufo-Addo leading that campaign, I want to advise officialdom to tread cautiously and also manage their expectations. We must avoid any decision that can rock the boat. I think the Muntari-Boateng saga is one such example.

I was in Brazil in 2014 and witnessed what happened in the Black Stars, leading to the indefinite suspension of these two players from the team in the middle of that historic FIFA World Cup which saw Ghana making the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Now that the Black Stars seem to be enjoying some peace, courtesy the intervention of President Nana Akufo-Addo, our preoccupation should be to help Coach Appiah to pick a good team from the active bunch of players to make a case for the nation in the land of the Pharaohs.

The reality on the ground is that the Black Stars are bereft of star performers as all our key players are not performing well for their clubs, save Thomas Partey and Kwadwo Asamoah. This, therefore, presents the coach with a fine opportunity to give budding talents the chance to prove themselves as we saw at the Angola 2010 AFCON where Ghana finished as runner-up to Egypt with a very young team under Milovan Rajevac of Serbia. The fruit of that bold decision was what the whole world witnessed at the South Africa 2010 World Cup where Ghana nearly made a historic semi-final appearance, but for that Suarez nightmare.

With barely two weeks to the naming of Ghana's provisional squad for the training camp in Abu Dhabi, I will plead with the powers-that-be to leave Coach Kwasi Appiah alone to take an independent decision with the help of his able assistant, Tanko Ibrahim, to avoid any unnecessary tension and confusion in the team.

If a hitherto 'big' player is now 'begging' to play for the Black Stars, then that should be a lesson for all Ghnaian players to know that no condition is permanent. This has justified the long-held position by some of us that after all, players need the national team more than the nation needs them. That is food for thought!