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OPINION: Sack Milovan Rajavac, Probe G.F.A. (Part Two)   
 
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09-Feb-2010  
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In a previous article, I advanced arguments as to why Milovan Rajavac ought to be sacked with immediate effect, and replaced with preferably a competent local coach.

The article generated lots of responses from soccer fanatics, some of who felt Milo has done well and should be maintained. A few others, however, felt Milo is incompetent and should be fired as a matter of priority.

There were readers who constructively and intelligently argued for Milo’s continued stay in office. Some actually felt there isn’t enough time between now and the world cup and that changing the coach may affect the chances of the Black Stars to progress beyond the group stage in South-Africa. There were also others wrote to me, insulting and attacking my personality.

As far as they were concerned, it is only ‘a fool’ who would call for Milo’s removal after he steered the Black Stars to the final of the Nations Cup in Angola. One reader wrote: ‘Milo shouldn’t be blamed because players like Essien, Appiah, Paintsil, and Mensah were injured and Milo couldn’t have played with his Children.’ Many other readers kept saying Ghana went into the tournament with young boys who lacked experience and so nobody should blame Milo.

Now, I think it’s improper to absolve Milo of the blame he deserves with regards to the astonishing number of young players he invited for Angola 2010. Needless to say, the decision to invite as many as eight members of the U-20 team cannot be justified. In the end only four-Badu, Inkoom, Opoku, Ayew- got to play. The coach lacked confidence in the remaining four players, including Randsford Osei and Dominic Adiyiah so he didn’t field them.

We ought to ask ourselves why Milo invited the above players when he knew they weren’t going to feature in his plans. The coach didn’t have confidence in Adiyiah et al so why did he invite them?

Some Ghanaians have sought to suggest that the F.A connived with the coach to invite those guys so as to share their bonuses with them. This, I’m not certain about. There probably is no evidence to substantiate those claims.

What I’m a bit more certain about is that Milovan Rajavac is seriously being influenced by Goran Milovanovic in the selection of players into the Black Stars. It’s no longer news that Goran represents many Black Stars players including Inkoom, Prince Tagoe, Dominic Adiyiah, Daniel Addo, and Agyemang Badu and all these players have featured for the Black Stars in recent times.

Players like Agyemang Badu and Dominic Adiyiah for instance, illegally abrogated their contracts with their former agents, in order to sign for Goran. Apparently, they were made to believe that Goran, who is a Serbian and a close pal of Milo, would easily facilitate their entry into the national team, if they signed for him. And I guess they haven’t been disappointed. I won’t be surprised to hear that Opoku Agyemang is being represented by Goran.

I am not really concerned about who represents who as agent. I’m concerned about the rot and corruption that has characterized national team call-ups in this country of late. We have been plagued with situations where inexperienced and mediocre players are called up to represent the country at the expense of experienced and quality players, just because someone wants to expose those players and market them in Europe. Or perhaps someone wants to share their bonuses with them. Needless to say, People are serving their own interest at the expense of national interest.

ANGOLA 2010 OR GHANA 2008.

Many people have said that the performance of the Black Stars at Angola2010 was better than that of Ghana2008. I beg to see things differently. The Black Stars could have won the tournament in 2008, if they hadn’t been let down by Coach Claude Le Roy, who invited just two central defenders for the entire tournament, and the G.F.A, which supervised the inclusion of injured players in the 23-man squad that represented Ghana. Though Shilla Illiasu, one of the two defenders invited was injured, he was still included in the squad and paid winning bonuses, even when it was clear that he was incapable of playing. Eric Addo who hitherto had been playing in mid-field for the Black Stars was paired with John Mensah in defence. Things worked out relatively well for the team until Mensah was sent off in the quarter-final match against Nigeria, ruling him out of the semi-final clash with Cameroon. Since the only other central defender in the team, Shilla Illiasu, was injured, Essien who had been our engine in mid-field had to drop into defence.

Essien’s loss in mid-field meant we couldn’t create chances for our strikers to score. We lost the match, and our dream of winning Ghana 2008 remained just a dream. In spite of that set-back, it should be put on record that Ghana played the best football in that tournament. The Black Stars scored 11 goals and conceded 4. They also defeated giants like Morocco, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire on their way to winning bronze. FIFA recognized the phenomenal performance of the Black Stars and ranked the team 1st in Africa and 14th in the world after the tournament.

Let’s compare the performance of 2008 to that of Angola 2010 where we played the worst football in the tournament, scoring 4 goals and conceding 4. Forget about the fact that we reached the final. Personally, I think that’s not too relevant. In football, it is the ultimate that matters, and that explains why former Chelsea manager, Avram Grant was fired immediately he lost the Champions League final of 2008 to Manchester United. The fact that he lost on penalties wasn’t considered at all. Let’s compare Ghana’s attack of 2008 to that of 2010.

In 2008, Quincy owusu-Abeyie who played on the right side of attack made two assists, (one of which was for a crucial equalizer against Nigeria) and scored a beautiful equalizer against Cote d’Ivoire. Muntari who played on the left side of attack scored three goals and made two assists. Muntari’s beautiful goal from 26 metres against Guinea in the Opening match will remain in the minds of Ghanaians for a long time to come. Essien, playing from his offensive mid-field position, scored two goals (one of which was a crucial equalizer against Nigeria) and made three assists, one of which led to the winning goal against Cote d’Ivoire in third place match.

In Angola, we had attackers who couldn’t deliver a single cross into the eighteen of opposing teams throughout the tournament. Asamoah Gyan as the team’s main striker did exceptional well to score three goals and make one assist. Two of Gyan’s goals were winning goals against Angola and Nigeria in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively. Kodwo Asamoah who played deep in mid-field made two assists. One was an exquisite pass against Angola that Gyan converted expertly, while the other was his corner kick against Nigeria which Gyan also converted. Opoku Agyemang who played on the left side of attack could not deliver any cross into the box of opposing teams, he couldn’t make any assist, he also couldn’t score a single goal, and neither could he fire a shot on target in all the five matches he played.

Dede Ayew went to sleep after his lovely goal against Burkina-Faso. He couldn’t provide a single cross into the eighteen of opposing teams, he couldn’t make any assist, and could only fire one shot on target, apa rt from the header he scored. And this was a guy who was playing as a winger!

It’s clear that we lacked quality in attack in Angola 2010. That explains why we lost to quality teams like Cote d’Ivoire and Egypt. Yes, there were potentially good players in the team, but there was no need to rush them. Milo’s all-defending style of play also contributed to our shabby showing.

I’m not the only one who thinks the Black Stars performed abysmally in Angola 2010. FIFA thinks so too. The latest FIFA ranking clearly shows that Ghana is still ranked 5th in Africa and 27th in the world despite placing second at the Nations Cup. Nigeria which Ghana beat in the semi-final is now ranked 15th in the world and 2nd in Africa. Cameroon which was beaten by Egypt in the quarter-final is ranked 20th in the world and 3rd in Africa, Cote d’Ivoire which lost to Algeria in the quarter-final is ranked 22nd in the world and fourth in Africa, while Egypt is ranked 10th in the world, 1st in Africa. This unquestionably shows that our performance at Ghana 2008 where we were ranked 1st in Africa after the tournament is far better than that of Angola 2010 where we are still ranked 5th in Africa despite placing 2nd at the tournament.

PROVING MILO’S INCOMPETENCE.

Nobody would have remembered Ghana’s poor performance at Angola 2010, if we had managed to beat Egypt to lift the trophy. But the extra-ordinary incompetence of our technical team headed by Milo ensured that Egypt outwitted us to win the trophy for an astonishing seventh time. I made it clear in the previous article that on the basis of Milo’s indecisions and lack of Judgement when it mattered most against Egypt, on the basis of his failure to make timely substitutions and reasonable changes, he should have been fired. We lost to Egypt from the bench, and once again, I’m not the only one who feels so. Richard Kingson who was goal keeper and captain of the Black Stars also feels we lost the match from the bench!

According to a Graphic Sports report, Kingson protested angrily when Mio substituted Asamoah Gyan after we conceded a goal against Egypt. He felt that was a tactical blunder. At the post match conference where Kingson was asked why he protested openly to the substitution of Asamoah Gyan in the heat of the game, he said: ‘it is a very good question but I don’t want to answer it here. It’s between me and my technical team.’ ‘’Like kingson, sources close to the team also thought Ghana lost the cup due to the coach’s failure to introduce the world’s best U-20 player and top goal poacher, Dominic Adiyiah earlier than the four minutes he enjoyed in the final. In a rather disappointing tone, one source did not mince words when he complained bitterly about the coach’s stiff-neckedness about an earlier decision to give Adiyiah more playing time against Egypt.’’

The foregoing clearly shows that some members of the Black Stars have no confidence in Milovan Rajavac. And this clearly vindicates some of us who felt the man should not have been contracted as coach of the Black Stars in the first place. His decision to bring on defender Harrison Afful in the dying minutes of our match against Cote d’Ivoire, and his decision to bring on Eric Addo, who has never scored for the Black Stars, in the final against Egypt when the Black Stars desperately needed to get a goal, defies logic and reasoning. It makes one wonder whether Milo knows what he is about.

The need for a good coach as we prepare towards the world cup cannot be overemphasized; this is because a quality team without a quality coach may not perform. This explains why Manchester City is now winning matches with Roberto Mancini as coach. This wasn’t the case when Mark Hughes was in charge.

As the world cup approaches, Ghanaians should be keenly interested in the sort of players Milo selects for national team assignments. I think situations whereby the G.F.A and the technical team headed by Milo due to their own selfish reasons, invite unqualified players to the national team at the expense of more qualified players must come to an end.

The Sports Ministry must supervise Milo to wean himself off external influences, be it from the F.A or Goran Milovanovic in his selection of players into the national team. The G.F.A is incapable of doing that because the association itself has come under attack from a section of the public for alleged corrupt practices. A case in point: After the Nations Cup in 2008, the Black Stars team doctor then Martin Engman, affirmed when he quizzed on one of the radio stations in Accra, that the decision to include injured Shilla Illiasu in the Nation Cup squad was a collective one taken by the G.F.A, the technical team of the Black Stars, and the medical team! The F.A allowed an injured man, who was still injured many months after the Nations Cup, to be included in the team, and paid thousands of dollars in bonuses.

This was done at the expense of fully fit players like Francis Dicoh, Issah Ahmed, and Kofi Amponsah who could have helped when Ghana needed a central defender against Cameroon. If this isn’t corruption, what is it? Dr Martin Engman was replaced as Black Stars team doctor ostensibly for refusing to keep his mouth shut. Is the national team a tool for making private gains? If those at that F.A have forgotten that they are there first and foremost to serve the interest of Ghanaians, then they better think again.

In Angola, Government spent over two million dollars on player bonuses of the Black Stars alone. This doesn’t include monies spent on team officials, money spent on accommodation and feeding etc. In essence, millions dollars of tax-payer’s money is perpetually being invested in the team. And it’s imperative that the team reciprocates the benevolent gesture of the tax-payer by winning trophies or performing credibly. This article continues next week under the title ‘Is the Black Stars Now a Business Enterprise?

God bless our homeland Ghana.
 
 
Source: Samuel K. Obour [email protected]
 
 

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