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Football Ghana

in the Arabian Gulf instead. Upsetting the six-year trajectory of

performance by hiring yet another Euro- pean coach, with no knowledge of African football or the cultural peculiarities of Ghanaian players, a difficulty that Raje- vac needed time to overcome, is a gamble that could put Ghana’s hard-earned suc- cess at risk. “Every time you take on a new coach,

it is a risk,” Nyantakyi admits. “But looking at Stefanovic and compar-

ing him with Milovan, he is better in terms of his track record… We need to stand behind the new coach, give him all the support required, as we did for Milovan, and the sky will be the limit.” But with no team ever having won the

World Cup with a non-national as coach and the Black Stars winning their last Af- rican title, in 1982, with a local manager, Fred Osam Duodu, in charge, why has the GFA seemingly discriminated against its own, as the last four coaches of the national team – Djukovic, Frenchman Claude Le Roy, Rajevac and new man Stefanovic – have all been white Euro- peans? “It’s not true [that the GFA discrimi-

nates against local coaches],” Nyantakyi argues. “We have confidence in the abil- ity of Ghanaian coaches. Apart from the senior national team, all the others are manned by Ghanaians. Tere is no delib- erate policy of the GFA to exclude blacks or Ghanaians from gaining access to senior coaching positions. “Over the past five years, we have

noticed that one of the reasons that our brothers have been unable to take up the position is due to a lack of requisite qualifi- cations. We have organised a lot of courses for our coaches, in order for them to ac- quire the relevant skills, so that they can eventually take up the position. “When we have equipped them with all

the skills, I expect that a Ghanaian will be in charge of the national team by the next time the World Cup is in Europe [the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia].”

Effervescence of youth Besides the administrative stability at the GFA, which has provided a platform for the implementation of a blueprint for Gha- naian football, another key factor that has contributed to the country’s football renaissance – and their creditable per-

88 | March 2011 New African

we need to stand behind Goran Stefanovic, as we did with Milovan, and the sky will be the limit” - Kwesi Nyantakyi

formance at the 2010 World Cup – was the bold decision to infuse youth into the Black Stars. Rajevac included several players from

the under-20 team, the Black Satellites – that historically won the 2009 World Youth Championship in Egypt – into the senior side that unexpectedly won a silver medal at the last Cup of Nations finals in Angola. With key players like defender John

Mensah and midfielders Sulley Muntari, Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien all absent from the last Nations Cup, few gave Ghana a chance of winning the tour- nament. But a young side with Kwadwo

Asamoah, Dominic Adiyiah and Dede Ayew, merging their prodigious talent with the experience of Asamoah Gyan and Matthew Amoah came close, defying the odds to reach the final. Although they lost to a vastly superior

Egyptian side, the Black Stars displayed character, beating Angola and arch-rivals

Nigeria, which took far more experienced players to the tournament, along the way. “Football is about youth. And Gha-

na took the bold but right step to infuse young players into their team,” says Ma- madou Gaye, the SuperSport analyst, known for making precise and blunt com- ments on the state of the African game. “Rather than rely on old players, Raje-

vac was courageous enough to put young talent in the Nations Cup squad. Many people thought the coach was taking a huge risk. But it paid off in Angola and it certainly paid off at the World Cup, where they put up a good performance. “It is important that other African

countries follow the Ghanaian example. If we do not give the talented youth a chance to play at the top level, how will they develop into top players?” Gaye asks.

The burden of success Although the Black Stars returned home to a rapturous welcome in Accra, follow- ing their World Cup performance, it has

“ When you take on a new coach, it is a risk, but

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