Christopher Opoku asks: Can local coaches handle Black Stars?

The Minister for Youth and Sports, Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye has re-ignited a debate that perhaps was in a coma but not dead.

I refer to the issue of whether or not indigenous coaches can handle the senior national football team, the Black Stars.

On TV3’s Hot Issues over the weekend, The Minister stated, amongst other things, that any supported local coach can win laurels with the Black Stars.

What the Minister said
“The coaches’ work is important, the coaches’ work is needed, but I will say at the level of the senior national team, for example, I don’t believe that we definitely need an expatriate in order to achieve. The best of our achievements as a nation, have been under Ghanaian coaches…I always ask myself what is it that is in the brains, in the genes, of that white man that is not in the black man?

What we need may be investing a little bit more in them. At the level of the national team, the Black Stars, whatever the coach teaches them is just about 5% of whatever they know. Because these players are already stars in their own right.”

Nii Lantey Vanderpuye also blamed the continuous importation of expatriate coaches for the Black Stars on what he described as Ghanaian misconceptions.

“I think the problem has to do with the Ghanaian, the Ghanaian always have that feeling that something from outside is better than what you have … I don’t share that opinion.”

My personal views on the matter
Most of you who have followed my articles over the years will realize that I have been a fanatical supporter of an indigenous coach for the Black Stars. So, I was naturally delighted when Kwesi Appiah landed the job in 2012. Even if I thought he failed during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the manner in which the Ghana Football Association dismissed him is something I didn’t agree with because it was so unfair.

Lets examine the arguments, shall we?

Arguments against hiring expatriate coaches
For starters expatriate coaches normally earn hefty wage packages; not to mention the huge signing on fees they receive after landing the job. Indigenous coaches do not get up to 50% of what expatriate coaches are paid and so it is sometimes considered economically sensible to go for a local coach.

Also, some of these foreign coaches, with the notable exception of Claude Le Roy, spend majority of their time outside Ghana and in their home countries unless it is time for the Black Stars to be in action. Until recently, the GFS was paying huge sums of money as rent for an apartment earmarked for the coach but the coaches hardly stayed in that particular accommodation; preferring to stay in hotels.

One might also say that Ghana has been to three consecutive World Cup tournaments, but the Black Stars have not won anything of note since the 1982 African Nations Cup and to date, no expatriate coach has been able to coach Ghana to glory at any of these tournaments.

There is a thin line between doing well and winning tournaments as Portugal showed us all over the weekend at the European Championship. So these are some of the arguments Nii Lante Vanderpuye would fall on is stating that Ghana does not need expatriate coaches.

Arguments against hiring indigenous coaches
On the other side of the coin, indigenous coaches do not have the support of the GFA hierarchy at all and there are reasons why. As sad as it is, most clubs in the top flight engage in bribery and corruption where match officials are concerned, especially during the second half of the season.

Most of these club administrators end up winning positions on the Executive Committee and they feel that they should be given credit for their respective clubs winning games and not the coaches because of certain underhand dealings that may have gone on. As a result, the coaches are not respected and if any of them is mentioned as a possible candidate for the Black Stars job, the idea is shot down by majority of the Ex-Co members themselves.

Again, club administrators do no give these coaches the free hand to do their job and sometimes insist on certain players being fielded regardless of form.

The coaches, for fear of losing their jobs find themselves complying but that very fact is also used against them when any of them come into the reckoning for the national job. The coaches are accused of ‘not being their own men’ by the very people who would not give them a free hand at club level.

There is also a perception (sometimes a misconception) that indigenous coaches cannot command respect from the players; most of whom ply their trade abroad.

As a result, the fear is that discipline would not be instilled in the team. Even though what broke out in Brazil was something beyond Kwesi Appiah, the pockets of incidents, particularly his training ground clash with Kevin Prince Boateng, would give his detractors a basis to say that he could not command respect from his players during the 2014 World Cup.

The reality on the ground
At the moment, I am looking at the coaches on the local scene and it is not too easy these days to nominate a viable indigenous candidate for the Black Stars coaching. Kwesi Appiah is slowly but surely rebuilding his reputation in the Sudanese top flight whilst Sellas Tetteh is hoping to pull off a minor miracle when Sierra Leone faces African champions Cote d’Ivoire in September in a bid to qualify for the 2017 AFCON.

Personally, the one man that could make a good fist of the job is Mas-Ud Dramani but at the moment he is in charge of the Black Satellites and he will have to do extraordinarily well to stand any chance.

Let us also not forget that Avram Grant remains in charge of the team and after winning silver at the 2015 AFCON, he is expected to go one better in Gabon. Only time will tell whether he will be the last expatriate coach for the team ahead of a new policy that will see indigenous coaches handed the job.

To be frank, I really do not see that happening anytime soon because of the dearth of options available at the moment.

Perhaps Nii Lantey Vanderpuye might get his wish but certainly not in the near future.

By: Christopher Opoku/