Kwasi Appiah vs other coaches

BY: Razak El-Alawa
Coach Kwasi Appiah
Coach Kwasi Appiah

Certainly Kwasi Appiah is no mean a coach. He is currently our national football coach, the head coach of the Black Stars and, therefore, the best we can find at the moment.

He did not get to his present position through sheer luck or favouriatism on the part of our football governing body, the GFA.

Kwasi Appiah was also a celebrated player during his youthful days and captained his club, Kumasi Asante Kotoko and the Black Stars.

He was a member of the Black Stars team that lost to Cote d’voire in the finals at the African Cup of Nations in 1992 in Senegal after he had surrendered the captainship to Abedi Pele.

If my memory serves me right, Kwasi took to coaching after Senegal 1992. He quickly learnt the tricks in the game and in no time became a coach of his former club, Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

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By dint of hard work he rose to become the assistant to the Serbian Milovan Rajevac with whom he took the Black Stars to the quarter finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when Ghana was denied a record semi-final berth through the infamous Luis Suarez’s “hand of God”.

Following the resignation of Rajevac after the 2010 World Cup, Kwasi was put in temporary charge of the Black Stars before the appointment of another Serbian, Goran Stevanovic, who was in the saddle for only a year.

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All this while Kwasi was playing second fiddle to the European coaches.

By 2012 the whole nation had agreed that it was time to hand the Black Stars to a Ghanaian coach.

It was the belief of many connoisseurs of the beautiful game that no Ghanaian coach was better placed than Kwasi to take over the Black Stars on a permanent basis. It was thought, and probably rightly too, that he had indeed properly gone through the mill.

It, therefore, did not come as a surprise when Kwasi was given the nod to lead the Black Stars to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the first Ghana coach to do so. He was the best around, while many African countries were also thinking of getting indigenous coaches to handle their national teams.

Unfortunately, Brazil 2014 was a disaster as Kwasi seemed to be exposed, together with other members of the GFA, as not being capable of handling our top footballers most of whom were playing and still play mainly in Europe under well-known coaches and under better facilities and, therefore, looked down upon our local coaches no matter how good they are.

What happened in Brazil was a total embarrassment.

Apart from dollars being flown by special jet to Brazil to pay our players before they would lace their boots, there were reported cases of exchange of blows between some of our players and some members of the GFA.

On return from Brazil Kwasi was expectedly sacked and in came Avram Grant, the top Israeli coach who once handled the English Premiership club, Chelsea, the club Michael Essien once played for.

Avram Grant was not a failure since he took the Black Stars to the Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea in 2015 where we were beaten on penalties by Cote d’lvoire in the final and again in 2015 when we reached the semi-finals in Gabon, surprisingly losing to eventual winners Cameroun.

In spite of his successes Avram Grant was not a popular coach as he spent most of the three years in Europe claiming to be scouting for new players.

Meanwhile Kwasi Appiah left Ghana for The Sudan after the Brazil fiasco.

He achieved some measure of success with Khartoum FC. When the clamour for an indigenous coach started again in 2017 there was no other local coach Ghana could fall on apart from the tested Kwasi Appaih.

Kwasi took over once again at a time the qualification for World Cup 2018, hosted by Russia a few months ago was united crucial stage.

Ghana had lost to Egypt away and drawn with Uganda on home soil. We were at a disadvantage. When we drew with Congo also at home it was clear we would not qualify for Russia 2018.

I believe one of the great problems Kwasi has had during his playing and coaching careers has been his perceived rivalry with Abedi Pele, one of Ghana’s greatest ever footballers during their playing days and whose children, Dede and Jordan, currently play for the Black Stars.

Many still believe that there is still some bad blood between Kwasi and Abedi, which explains why any time he does not call Dede and Jordan some Ghanaians refer to the old relationship between Kwasi and Abedi.

When Dede and Jordan refused to join the Black Stars for their return match against Congo early this year, few Ghanaians raised an eyebrow. Since the two claimed they were not well, Kwasi could not do anything about it.

Fortunately, Kwasi went with a set of players without Dede and Jordan and still beat Congo in their backyard handsomely.

However when Kwasi did not call the duo for the next assignment, our arm-chair coaches started reading meanings into Kwasi’s behaviour.

They started calling him names referring to his perceived old rivalry with Abedi.

Why are Ghanaians not ready to allow Ghanaian coaches to discipline their players? Certainly without discipline our boys cannot give of their best. Why don’t we challenge the European coaches for their actions and inactions as far as player call up is concerned?

I believe the time has come for us to put our faith in our own coaches if we are to see them stake permanent claim in handling the Black Stars.

It was unfortunate some Ghanaians began to read meanings to the refusal of Kwasi Appiah to call Dede and Jordan for the recent match against Kenya.

I thought Kwasi assembled the best materials available but since we could only draw in Nairobi hell broke loose once again.

Our armchair coaches had the opportunity to cast all sorts of innuendos at Kwasi claiming that the absence of the Ayew brothers and Asamoah Gyan was the reason we could not win in Kenya.

These “know all” coaches will not accept Kwasi’s reason that there is a big pool of materials for the Black Stars and he would like to give every player a chance to prove himself.

More important, however, I thought the Ayew brothers and our captain, Asamoah Gyan, were not called for good reasons. Unless we want to deceive ourselves, both Asamoah Gyan and his deputy Dede were not in the best of form when Kwasi assembled his latest team.

Asamoah Gyan, even though still the captain, has not been playing regular football in Turkey.

In the case of Dede and his younger brother they were in the Swansea City team that was relegated from the English Premier League last season.

Dede’s form was nothing to write home about while Jordan was the leading scorer for Swansea City. But following the relegation of Swansea, the Ayew brothers started to look for new clubs.

Would it have been wise for Kwasi to bring them down when they were looking for new clubs? Certainly not. Jordan has made only one appearance for his new club, Crystal Palace, coming from the bench while Dede is struggling to make an impact at Fenerbahce.

Let us give Kwasi a breather and the peace of mind to do his job. He himself knows he can’t afford to disappointment Ghanaians this time around.