Soccer News of Thursday, 6 October 2016
Immediate past FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s era was full of drama and as we enter a new era in the period of Infantino, there seems to be greater things to happen to Africa, looking at the new reforms in the process.
Today, as you read this piece, GFA President Kwesi Nyantakyi’s dream of securing a seat on the FIFA Executive Council has become a reality, with congratulatory messages flying all over wishing him the best.
Even though he was given a rousing welcome, I would have wished that he was given a red-carpet welcome with a brass band in attendance. Yes, a citizen of this land has finally assumed that position after decades of trials and failures.
Many African countries would have made the welcome something different, but it appears it is not really part of our culture to call the whole nation’s attention to such events.
Remember in the 1960s, this country had a top diplomat in the name of Quayson Sackey who ascended to the top position of President of the Security Council of the United Nations, but that appointment did not attract any special attention, even though we looked at his position with awe and heralded him.
And in recent years, did we not have another high diplomat, Kofi Annan, being elected to the high position of the Secretary-General of the world body, but his entry into his own did not attract any special fanfare.
This is a country endowed with anointed personalities who have shaken the world, and is still nursing some more in the pipeline in all fields, politically, economically, physically, morally, socially and in the field of sports, as we find Kwesi now.
Yes, his election speaks volumes for our football progress, and of course, our FA president, who is the head of the West Africa Football Union (WAFU) and an Executive Member of CAF, deserves that position despite all the challenges we have at home.
It must be noted that after 36 years of the Black Stars absence at the World Cup from 1970 when Africa was given one full slot at the football fiesta, it took young Kwesi Nyantakyi’s entry into the top echelons of our game to pave the way for three straight qualifiers, despite the four African championships which date back to 1982.
And it started from 2006 in Germany, through to 2010 in South Africa to 2014 in Brazil. Indeed, I must say Kwesi has been very instrumental in landing this country on the world platform, and everybody must be happy for his effort.
There is no doubt that being a member of the FIFA’s Executive Council is an enviable position, something other English speaking countries in Africa must celebrate in a big way, as others who speak different languages have dominated and made their mark, leaving those countries in the British Commonwealth in the dark.
Even in the last elections, the French-speaking countries made their presence felt as they gave the Guinean representative a comfortable winner, thus leaving Kwesi to vie with a Madagascan delegate Almany for the second slot in which Kwesi sailed through with a single vote (31- 30). This was an election too close to call.
According to FIFA’s arrangements, Kwesi’s present status carries him to March next year, after which he will undergo fresh elections to consolidate his mandate, and as a matter of fact, much will depend on the good works of the only one English-speaking African representative.
Of course, there are a lot of hot challenges ahead of Kwesi in all directions, from domestic issues, to West Africa to continental and world level and to endear himself at his position, one of the monumental expectations is the qualification of the Black Stars to their fourth straight World Cup. The journey starts from this Friday when the Stars, led by their skipper Asamoah Gyan, come face to face with the Cranes of Uganda.
Africa is watching, the world is looking up to the improvement of the game in Africa, and on the domestic front we are not closing our eyes to Nyantakyi’s own Wa All Stars as they find their way to the African terrain in the coming season.
Nyantakyi has risen up by dint of hard work, the FA and the whole nation have seen something great in him with CAF finding him to carry that charisma which could catapult him to the position president Issah Hayatou is holding after nearly three decades, and which he may retire after one more term.
One other challenge facing Kwesi is whether he might step out of the FA position to concentrate on Africa and the world. This is a decision that must occupy the attention of all football people in the country, including fans and managements alike, with the FA members watching out how he would conduct himself after his term as president.
We are all passionate about that, but just imagine how the man was ushered into the world forum at a time the Under-17 women’s national team, the Black Maidens, were treated in the on-going world tournament in Jordan. The Maidens’ first opponents, who happen to be the holders of the trophy, Japan, might have been briefed about the election, and perhaps took a decision to demoralise Kwesi and his elated followers with a 5 – 0 hammering in their opening match.The same could be said of the Black Stars qualification to Russia 2018.
It must be remembered that Kwesi will need the full support and prayers of the whole nation to make his path shine in the eyes of the world.
In other words, what made Africa love our man must be maintained and even polished better, but for all I know, it has never been easy for any country in Africa, however high their pedigree to maintain that standard after three straight qualifications to the World Cup, and surely it will be a plus for Kwesi if the Black Stars break that jinx.
The challenges are numerous, and it is the hope of all that all of us will succeed with him. Good luck!