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AL-SMITH: 5 things Appiah’s sacking says about you, the Ghanaian

Monday 15th September , 2014 8:51 am
Kwesi Appiah - going?
Kwesi Appiah - going?

Kwesi Appiah knew he would be sacked. He did not expect it to be so messy.

But that is where Appiah’s problem lay; his belief in the good nature of the GFA – and human beings in general – despite their continuous backstabbing.

Throughout his stay, the GFA never truly regarded the 54-year old as a great coach – one worthy of the Black Stars.

Not once did the president, Kwesi Nyantakyi say in his public utterances that “Kwesi Appiah is very good” or “We as an FA believe in Appiah’s technical abilities.”

It was always a variant of “Kwesi Appiah is the best man for the job now.”

And because Nyantakyi is the man who really has the final say, once there was an opening to get someone he deemed sharper than Appiah, the former Ghana captain had to go.

Being Plan B

On 7 April 2012, Nyantakyi had met Marcel Desailly.

The Black Stars job had become vacant after an equally messy parting with Serbian Goran “Plavi” Stevanovic, whose contract was leaked by FA officials simply to undermine him.

But Desailly could not come to an agreement with the FA boss because the World Cup winner’s monetary demands were steep.

With the FA needing to forestall a power vacuum, they called the man who would be a perfect political and PR fit.

Appiah had been assistant to the successful Rajevac, and to Claude Le Roy before him.

But more importantly, Appiah is Ghanaian, which suited the prevailing national sentiment. And a quick fix, too.

Unfortunately, being a Ghanaian coach in charge of the Black Stars comes with a stigma of being afraid of player power, cowering under the pressure of the football politics, and not being tactically good enough.

Bar a few moments where he exerted control, Kwesi Appiah justified this “stigma” to the letter.

In all of this, the Kwesi Appiah story highlights some key misconceptions that are typically Ghanaian.

1. Actually, we don’t love Ghana-made

A comment made on Facebook on Friday catches the eye. It’s from Nii Ayertey Aryeh, a self-proclaimed socialist.

“When Nkrumah became President there were no local doctors, pilots etc. He trained them. Check the history of the Ghana Medical School for example.

“Nkrumah said we should be allowed to make our own mistakes and that we will be committed to learning to change our course. If we committed to making sure that at least one local coach gets it right at the international level you will be a witness to what that kind of inspiration will do for other local coaches.

Touché.

Kwesi Appiah was hounded out like a dog – a common dog walking around Asafo Market. Admittedly, he made grave mistakes that this station has repeatedly advocated for his dismissal, but not like this.

2. We do not have enough quality pros

Many would not admit, but if one is asked to name a single coach in Ghana who can confidently say he’s world class and you’ll be in trouble.

There is none.

Kwesi Appiah was given the job because it was expedient, not because of any vaunted belief in his ability.

A deliberate and systematic effort to produce coaches worthy of export is the way to go. Otherwise, the major trophy the country craves will come from an expat, just like breakthroughs in other sectors will not come from locals unless effort is put into it.

In engineering, medicine, art and even in other sports, Ghana has incredible raw talents, but devoting resources to polish them to globally accepted standards remains elusive.

Why, you ask?

That’s another talk for another day.

3. Local politics is yet to mature

Look at the history: Dujkovic. Le Roy. Rajevac. Stevanovic. Appiah.

Their departures were not classy. Ugly affairs, every single one.

Politics does not have to be messy business. Politics at the highest level remains a refined game of chess.

Yes, politics by its very definition lends to intrigue, but subtlety is an art the local politician is yet to process.

Kwesi Appiah heard of his sacking in the media. The first FA official he spoke to for confirmation was the spokesperson, who told him the Executive Committee had decided to let him go after a quick meeting.

This kind of practice continues in our political discourse and is unacceptable.

4. We love quick fixes

Committing to painful, long term solutions engenders trustworthy structures, but Ghana does not like that.

The country loves quick fixes. Like our football continuously illustrates, we throw money at problems, provide short termisms in abundance and bite fingernails when it inevitably implodes.

Ghana continues the Afcon 2015 qualifiers in mid-October. A coach needs to be in place by then.

Watch as the GFA appoints a European, pays him more than $40,000 a month and repeat the predictable cycle of Black Stars drama.

Meanwhile, in the unfashionable local premier league and lower divisions, the rot and lack of attention continues.

The 23-man squads named for important games will be 95% foreign-based, with the 5% drawn from the local game for cosmetic purposes.

We’ll be back at this point in a year or two.

5. They say we are hospitable? They lied

Among the first five responses you will get from the ordinary Ghanaian is that we are a nation filled hospitable, ready-to-smile-at-everyone people.

What they do not tell you is that over time, we have grown to be a cynical, calculating and back-stabbing bunch.

Our kindness does not come without a leash, for you will pay for it – preferably in cash, or a bribe. Whatever it is, you will need to “drop something for the weekend.”

Despite being one of us, Kwesi Appiah needed to “sort” people out throughout his entire time as boss.

It was not necessarily bribery, but simply the Ghanaian way of oiling the wheels of progress. We see it everywhere, and the earlier we acknowledged that our hospitality does not come for free, the better it is.

The Ghana FA say parting with Kwesi Appiah was done by mutual consent. The man says otherwise, and our checks show he is right.

Appiah was maligned and back-stabbed throughout his two years in charge.

And in looking for ways to treat the next Kwesi Appiah with dignity and respect, we’ll be providing a template for building a better Ghanaian public sector.

By Gary Al-Smith/citifmonline.com/Ghana

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