by: michael eli dokosi/blakkpepper.com/ghana
It is now quite obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes and a fertile brain to realize that Ghanaian football is going down the drain that is what is left of it. The responsible leaders tasked to manage that sector have shown a reluctance to do the things which must be done to revive the football sector so as to compete with others on the continent and beyond.
The various stadia do not receive the requisite attention to keep them functioning and safe. The Accra sports stadium has a poor pitch whose lush green look has turn to dry brown. The washrooms are unkempt and receptacles broken as is the scoreboard which has tasted corrosion. The other stadia are not faring any better yet we supposedly have a sports minister and technical heads paid to keep our football alive.
With news coming in that First Capital Bank has frozen its sponsorship of the league for review, securing a new sponsor to partner or take over the sponsoring duties of the league must be in the works. Already the league is on it death bed with oxygen mask and tubes fitted to it battling for life. It is clear options must be found to rescue the local league and make it attractive so as to capture the interest and imagination of suitors.
Football pundits including Carl Tufuor, Kwabena Yeboah, Kweku Ofosu Asare, Joe Lartey Snr., Moses Foh Amoaning captured our imagination with their fine commentary and analysis. Some went on to host sports shows and pre-match talk sections before tournament matches. At that point in time football fans loved such offerings but times have changed.
Kwabena Yeboah cannot retain his fellowship on Monday nights still offering excerpts of league matches played over the weekend in Europe as other television stations such as UTV, Metro TV and TV Africa would have earlier screened the excepts.
No football fan can attend various stadia to watch matches. It is for this reason that documentaries or video packages are made so that people who couldn’t participate in certain events can relax in the comfort of their homes and still enjoy such offerings.
Football fans were pleasantly surprised when Ford sponsored the 100 Greatest UEFA Champions League Goals spanning 1992 to 2005 which detailed the top goals season by season.
It brought to life some players who might have faded or are fading from the minds and hearts of fans. The video enabled people in Africa to witness the varied pitches, attendance at stadia, extinct players amid other observations.
The 100 Greatest UEFA Goals featured Marcel Desailly scoring for AC Milan in 94, George Weah scoring for PSG against Bayern Munich in 94, Victor of Real Madrid finishing off against Olympiakos by strolling the ball into the net from the centre. Who could forget Dennis Wise’s goal against AC Milan in 99 or Angel Gabriel Batistuta’s super strike in the United vs. AC Milan game.
Gheorghe Hagi made sure his name remains on the lips of football fans with his superbly taken long range left foot strike in Galatasaray’s win over Monaco as did Giovane Elber’s lone strike goal for Bayern Munich over Spartak Moscow in 2001.
Before Cristiano Ronaldo became the darling boy at Real Madrid, there was Raul and in the 2001 Champions League froze the Anderlecht’s goalkeeper on his lines with a volley which enabled Madrid to win.
Another great of the game Rivaldo entered the top 100 list with his superb free kick against Fenerbahce and in 2002 one time Manchester united goal machine Ruud Van Nistelrooy secured his place with his right angle goal against Basel.
ITV Sport also produced its own Best 50 UEFA Champions League Goals. Often when the great French players are mentioned, Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane are mentioned but a player who is an equal to this two is Jean Pierre Papin. Not the biggest neither the quickest but Papin’s instinct for goal was unmatchable and in 1993 out of the 18 yard box he offered a onetime strike which enabled Milan win over Porto.
George Weah in 1994 was unplayable and in Bayern Munich vs. PSG, he proved that with a power of a goal.
Tipped by many as their favourite player, Ronaldinho’s natural flair was undeniable and in 2004 when Barcelona faced off with AC Milan, he scored a screamer with his left kick making many count their blessing to be in the stadium.
Peter Crouch made the list with an overhead kick in Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Galatasary in 2006 as did Manchini: the step over lord with an outrageous goal in Roma’s 2-0 win over Lyon in 2007.
In Champions League history Ricken Lars makes a queer entry. Ricken comes on as substitute and his first touch is to score a goal (lobs ball over keeper outside the penalty area) in the 1997 finals which had Borussia Dortmund win by 3 goals against Juventus’ 1.
Ronaldinho makes another entry thanks to Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Barcelona and although his team lost Ronaldinho made one more history in 2005. At 22 yards out, surrounded by Chelsea defenders who were the best in the world at the time supported by the best goal keeper in Cech but by some trick hits the ball and scores stunning many.
Then there is the majestic, best goal of the tournament sored by Zinedine Zidane with a stupendous left footed volley in the final between Real Madrid vs. Bayer Leverkusen which Real won 2-1 in 2002.
So if we claim we are a footballing nation, why haven’t the folks with authority prepared any of these video packages to celebrate our football and players given that we pride ourselves as the 4 time champions of the African Cup which Egypt has surpassed us in by extra cups they have won.
Thankfully the football gods have presented to us a crop of enterprising football commentators, analysts, reporters and presenters in the shape and form of Godfred Akoto Boafo, Nathan Quao, Benjamin Nketia, Rahman Osman, Gary Al-Smith, Nathaniel Attoh, Benedict Owusu, Baaba Kedri, Dan Kweku Yeboah, Abatei, Wanuwanu, Nana Darkwah, Odiasempa, Benjamin Willie Graham, George Lartey, Michael Oti Adjei, Christopher Opoku, Ernest Koranteng, Eva Otchere, Dennis Mepuri, Veronica Commey, Thomas Freeman and others whose insights enlighten many.
Although their talk sheds light on the game, posterity would not judge them kindly if they fail to go beyond the talk shop. Since the various TV and radio stations lack the foresight to undertake certain research backed by a sponsor or sponsors to offer to the thirsty sports/football fans, I charge the aforementioned names to form a consortium to among others produce the top 50 black stars goals, the 20 greatest players of the black stars, the 10 deadly black stars strikers, the 10 black stars gods of the midfield, the 10 greatest black star goalkeepers, the top 100 goals of the Ghana premier league, the 50 greatest players of the premier league, 10 point blank misses of Asamoah Gyan, the 10 best penalty goals of Asamoah Gyan, the 20 best misses of the premier league among others.
The country has had sporting gems whose exploits fades as the years wear on. Wont it be delightful to witness the 20 best goals of Shamo Quaye, the very best of Sam Johnson’s defensive techniques, the lethal shots of Peter Ofori Quaye, the dribbling skills of Adu Tutu Skele, the magical dribbling of Odartey Lamptey, goal keeping exploits of Ali Jara, the long range bullets of Mohammed Gargo, the thunderbolts of Tony Yeboah and the masterful showmanship of Abedi Ayew Pele.
What about a package exposing the sweet years of Charles ‘Bania’ Taylor, Ismael ‘Baby Face’ Addo, Emmanuel ‘General’ Kufuor where it was asked just how many goals did Hearts of Oak win by because in these 3 players even on a very bad day, they still could produce a goal each.
Just as there is the World Cup’s 50 Greatest Moments, which exposed the genius of Eusebio, the majesty of Socrates, Ader, Zico and Falcao as well as underlined the greatest team of all times as being the Brazil 1970 squad which won the world cup for the third time with players like Carlos Alberto and Pele in addition to fingering Pele as the Best Header of All Time.
There is need for Gary to draw on his international links for instance to establish the contribution of one time Ghana number goalie Robert Mensah who died in November 1971 in a bar fight. Mensah’s goal keeping exploits were legendary, little wonder he was in the list of the African player of the year. Archival footage should be at GBC where with the aid of a video editor, those tapes could be cleaned and packed for screening.
Then there is Mohammed Polo who helped Ghana win the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations. Named the Ghana Football Association Footballer of the Year in 1975 and number 4 on the list of African Player of the Year in 1977. Benedict Owusu can be tasked with fishing for videos of this legend.
Rahman Osman can foot the task of unearthing the genius of Opoku Nti who helped win the 1982 Cup in addition be being a runner up in the 1983 African Footballer of the Year Award.
Patrick ‘Country Man Songo’ Agyemang can help to unravel the supreme gift of Ibrahim Sunday who in the 60’s and 70’s helped the country to two consecutive African cup of Nations finals but lost nonetheless his exploits were enough to win the 1971 African Footballer of the Year award.
The statistician Freeman can dig deep to expose footballing fans to Karim Abdul Razak who helped the county win the 1978 Cup of Nations, eventually winning the 1978 Footballer of the Year Award. His 25 goals in 70 matches is tasty indeed.
Nathan Quao can be detailed to preach the gospel of Sammy Kufuor, one of Ghana’s great defenders who served the country well in the world cup of 2006 in Germany. For a defender to be nominated for the Balloon D’or in 2001 spoke volumes of his abilities. Little wonder then that he was 2nd on the list of African Player of the Year in 1999 and 2001.
Nathaniel ‘Citizen’ Attoh should be delighted when asked to gather a dossier on Michael ‘the Bison’ Essien who also helped Ghana in its Germany 2006 campaign. Essien’s work earned him a nomination in the FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon D’or 3 times from 2005 to 2007.
Dan Kweku Yeboah can take on Tony Yeboah as his assignment in revealing to the latter day saints the potent striker ‘Yegoala’ was for Ghana and the varied teams he played for in Europe including leading the Bundesliga scoring charts in 1993 and 1994. Voted Leeds’ Player of the Year in 1996 and in 1997 named Ghana’s Player of the Year.
Dan can help explain how Tony got Nominated African Footballer of the year 4 solid times and help reveal just why Mr. Yeboah was voted 9th in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 1993.
Godfred Akoto Boafo should pull all his strings from Citi FM, Ringier and Pulse Ghana in providing footage of perhaps the greatest footballer to bear Ghanaian nationality. Abedi won the African Footballer of the Year award in 1991, 1992 and 1993 and managed to carry the Marseille side of 1993 on his back to win the Champions League.
Little surprise then when his mentor, Brazilian Pele named him in the ‘FIFA 100’ List of the Greatest Players in History. He was also named as the Best Player in the Africa Cup of Nations in 1992.
Even with such poor management of our football and league, other nationals from Togo, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire and other lands come to ply their trade here indicating that with a little management discipline Ghana could rake in decent revenue from our footballing gifts.
Kwesi Nyantekyi and his ‘Football People’ can continue to squeeze our balls anytime we express dissent by playing the World Cup appearance card but one fine day even that feat cannot shield them from the fury of the masses.
Already fans across the country have begun showing apathy towards the Black Stars and happenings in the league. Reports have emerged that Kumasi which used to be a stronghold of the Stars is over with the charm of the players with some fans in Amekum, Anloga, Suame Magazine, Eyijah and other such places who saved money from their artisanal work such as shoe mending, carpentry work and ‘foos’ selling are now demanding appearance fees before attending the stadia to watch matches.
They have it within them to do what is right and I hope my charge will ginger them to avail resources to help produce such video packages I have enumerated. As if by some cursed reason Sports Ministers appointed have shown a crass ignorance in handling affairs pertaining to sports that one wonders if the Sports Ministry be designated to the presidency to receive much needed attention as president Buhari has done for Petroleum in Nigeria.
The Black Stars claim they play for the nation as national duty and for pride but their monetary demands is making it clear they cannot continue to fool the citizenry more so when in over a decade they have no silverware to show for the huge dollars given them. Perhaps availing the video packages to such players and others in the league so as to learn from the way the greats won cups for the nation, and techniques they utilized in scoring critical goals can redirect their focus and align their priorities.
Why the Ghana Football Association has not till date established a Black Stars museum beats the mind. Such a structure could enable fans to have firsthand access to cups won, medals received and photographs of the greats in addition to audio-video recordings can all bring meaning to the mantra that we are a footballing powerhouse.
The local clubs especially Kotoko and Hearts of Oak can also take a cue from this missive as they are faring no better.
May the ancestors and the Supreme Divine guide our paths and make us emerge as a sporting super power once again.