National interest should be paramount in team-building for 2022 World Cup

BY: George Ernest Asare
Otto and George Boateng
Otto and George Boateng

Gradually, the euphoria that gripped the nation following the Black Stars' qualification to the Qatar 2022 World Cup is dying down and the reality of building a formidable team capable of competing against the big boys at the highest level is dawning on Ghanaian football fans.

The FIFA World Cup draw held in Doha at which Ghana was placed in Group H alongside Portugal, Uruguay and Korea Republic, might have pricked the conscience of football followers that with November just around the corner, the fanfare that greeted Ghana's World Cup qualification should give way quickly to a period of assembling the best players available to form a very competitive team for the tournament.

In spite of the Black Stars' impressive performance against regional rivals Super Eagles in the World Cup qualifying playoffs, it is open secret that the team that qualified Ghana to the World Cup will struggle against the best teams in the world.

While almost all the 32 competing countries at the World Cup have their technical teams in place, Ghana is yet to assemble a technical team for the World Cup.

When President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo welcomed the Black Stars team and the GFA leadership to the Jubilee House on March 30, he appealed to the FA to maintain Otto Addo and his technical team to prepare a solid team for the upcoming tournament in Qatar. As directed by the President -- and with the technical team's contract expiring after the Nigeria encounter -- it behoves  the FA to hasten to appoint a new technical team capable of putting together the best squad possible to fly the country's flag high in Qatar.

It has always been suspected over the years that in Ghana, GFA top officials have often influenced the selection of players to the national team. At the last AFCON in Cameroun, speculation was rife that the bane of the team was the criteria for team selection, as some half-baked and injured players found themselves in the team and were consigned to the bench at a time their services was needed so much.

It should, therefore, be drummed home to the FA that selection of players should solely rest on the technical handlers and should also be based on current form, tactical discipline, physical condition and the commitment to go the extra mile for Ghana when the competition becomes tough.

There are a lot of quality Ghanaian players all over the globe -- stalwart defenders, quality defensive and offensive midfielders and potent strikers -- itching to wear the national colours. It is for these reasons the FA should leave the selection of players to the technical team and rather concentrate on putting together a competent technical team to pick the best players available around the world to compete for positions in the team.

In that regard, the technical team, if put together, should also be mindful about team discipline with the 2014 World Cup episode in Brazil in mind to serve as a guide.  The technical team can assemble the best of players, but without team discipline, the indiscipline which hit Ghana's camp in Brazil can recur and undermine the team's World Cup campaign.

One of the strengths of the Black Stars, as exhibited in the World Cup qualifying playoffs, was the defence. That notwithstanding, the new technical team should work hard to reinforce the team's spine to ensure that even players on the substitutes' bench are good enough to be thrown into matches when the need arises.

The team also need workaholic midfielders capable of handling the ball very well, creating scoring chances and driving the home when necessary.

It is quite regrettable that after playing five matches, including the AFCON tournament in Cameroun, the Black Stars managed to score only two goals. Their abysmal performance at the AFCON was the result of their failure to create and utilise goal-scoring chances.

Also, it was a big surprise why the team easily lost the balls to opponents and failed to win 50-50 balls in recent competitive matches, which analysts attributed this mishap to the lack of cohesion in midfield, hence the need for the yet-to-be-appointed technical team to have in mind that the need to assemble workaholic midfielders cast in the mould of players who represented Ghana in both the 2006 and 2010World Cup in Germany and South Africa, respectively.

Ghana abounds in numerous strikers who are banging in the goals in leagues but have been ignored, either deliberately or otherwise.

The World Cup in Qatar is the biggest football event any footballer or coach can ever dream to participate in, that is why it is very important that the technical team scout the best and most committed players available to compete and bring honours to the country.

Winning the love of Ghanaians once again implies that nothing should be left to chance as far as the World Cup tournament is concerned, especially as Ghanaians have bemoaned the amount of money the state has splashed on the Black Stars without commensurate results at international competitions.

Bringing back the love for the Black Stars implies that nothing should be left to chance,so far as this tournament is concerned.This can only be done if the FA collaborate with the technical team  with national interest  at heart, and assemble the best among the best for this tournament which came out from the blue.