Starlets coach throws out the old in search of new talent

Soccer News of Friday, 29 January 2016



Paa Kwesi FabinPaa Kwesi Fabin

Handlers of the national U-17 team are touring the various regional capitals across the country in search of talent for the side ahead of the 2017 African U-17 qualifiers.

Michael Oti Adjei (MOA) spoke to the coach of the side, Paa Kwesi Fabin (PKF), about how the exercise has gone so far

MOA: You have been to a few regions so far. So how would you describe the recruitment process as at now?

PKF: You can see the kind of intensity, the kind of determination. You see it on their faces that everybody wants to be part of the U- 17 national team and its being exciting.

MOA: There were around 400 players in Kumasi on the first day and from what we hear equally large numbers in the other regions. Is that an advantage to your search or it complicates it?

PKF: It’s an advantage for me because then it brings out the competition in the boys so that it gives you the opportunity to pick out the best out of the lot.

This country is bound with talent, it’s just that we need to put things right to be able to honest this talents that we have at our disposal and Ghana will be home and dry.

MOA: What do you look out for in selecting the players? Is it skill level, technique, ball handling, physique, style?

PKF: You have mentioned all the criteria I use in selecting these boys. Physique is one, technique is one, your ability to play as a team player, I mean we put all these together before we come out with a player and then a player who can grow. Some of them with their stature you pick them and they are where they are even after four five years they don’t grow again but we looking at players who can grow and then get into the next level, develop and step into the next level, that’s the kind of players we are looking for.

MOA: You are in charge of a team that won two world cups for Ghana and is generally regarded a good conveyor belt for talent. Will the team you are picking be more like those world cup winning squads?

PKF: You can’t compare the two eras. Those days you could parade anybody as an U-17 player and he will go and play but these days you need to pick young guys. They go through MRI to state that they are truly U-17 before we can go or put them into the team. We are trying to build a very good team, we are trying to develop players who are can develop into the next level even though I have been in charge of the team since 2013 and even though we’ve not been to go to the world cup, I can tell you to a fact that about 20 to 22 of them are playing in Europe even though we didn’t go to the world cup because we pick quality players.

If you look at the U-20 team that went to New Zealand, 14 of the 2013 starlets were in the team and 7 started as regulars it means that even though we didn’t go to the world cup we’ve been able to develop these boys and in fact most of them are in Europe. Even the last team that was disqualifier about 10 of them are playing football in Europe now so it means that we are bringing up quality players.

MOA: We know everyone wants to get into this team which means parents, managers, coaches will put you under immense pressure to pick their wards

PKF: A lot of pressure but I have seen it all before, so I mean this job that we do you have to say it as it is otherwise you always be in problem so I say it as it, if you come late you are late and there is nothing I can do about it.

MOA: What do you hope this whole exercise ultimately achieves?

PKF: I wouldn’t say we are going to win the world cup or we are going to win the African Cup but I can assure Ghanaians that I am bringing out quality players who will grow into the next level and make Ghana proud.

MOA: How many players are you looking to pick in all?

PKF: It depends on the talent that we see. What we do is that, all the 40 that we’ve picked we have designed a form, everybody have filled the form with their pictures on it so we are keeping data so if w go and there is a need for us to look back, we just go back to the data that we have and look at the position we are looking for. So we tell them that it’s not over until it’s over and even if you don’t make it into the U-17 you can grow to become a better player and you can join the U-20 team.